Protein Brownie Muffins For Active Teens

Jannine Myers

Protein bars are a regular shopping list item for many athletes and recreational exercisers, and provided they aren’t filled with unnecessary added sugars, “questionable” ingredients, or poor quality protein, they can occasionally add value to one’s diet. I find them particularly useful when travelling, or after races, or on days when my diet is lacking in protein.

But what about young athletes? I have a young athlete at home with me; my 13-year old daughter. She spends approximately 12 hours a week at her dance studio and besides the fact that she trains hard and puts her muscles to work daily, she is also still growing. She needs quality protein in her diet just as I do!

It’s too costly for me to buy extra protein bars (and I also wouldn’t want my daughter to get addicted to the sugary candy-bar appeal of them), however I don’t mind giving her occasional home-made “treats” that she can enjoy in place of generic supermarket muesli and cereal protein bars. The following recipe is one that she really enjoys, and one you might also like to try for your active teens:

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Ingredients

2 cups chickpeas, canned is fine but drain and wash first

3 tbsps coconut oil

1 tbsp of plunger or instant decaf coffee (optional)

250ml Unsweetened Almond Milk

3 scoops of quality chocolate whey protein (1 scoop = 25g protein)

2 tbsps cocoa or cacao powder

3/4 cup organic oats

3/4 cup ground almonds

2 tsps baking powder

1/4 tsp cayenne powder (optional)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup low GI sugar

1/4 cup molasses

2 tbsps tapioca flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Boil water and add about 4 to 5 tbsps to the coffee. Then, simply add all the ingredients to a food processor, pour the coffee over, and pulse until combined. If you are omitting the coffee, just add a little extra water. Pour the mixture into pre-greased muffin pans (recipe makes 16 muffins), and bake for 15 to 20 minutes (15 to 17 mins if you prefer a really moist brownie, or up to 20 mins if you prefer more of a dense cake texture).

Nutritional Data per muffin: Calories 160; Carbs 18.95g (Sugars 9.45g); Fat: 6.25g (Saturated Fat 2.49g); Protein 7.9g; Fiber 2.5g

 

Trying To Eat Healthy On A Budget

Jannine Myers

There are many reasons to feel grateful for living in New Zealand, but cheap food is not one of them. Grocery shopping for the average family is either a major financial burden or a nutritional nightmare. I don’t claim to have the perfect solution, but I do have a system to share that may work as well for some of you as it does for me.

First of all, before you even begin, I recommend spending a few weeks lining your pantry shelves with some staple ingredients such as spices, seasonings, sauces, healthy oils, dried fruits and nuts, seeds, baking essentials, and also canned beans, legumes, and low-sodium vegetables. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to go! This is how I do my weekly grocery shopping, and it does not involve writing out or taking a shopping list (unless there are a few specific items that I want to remember to pick up):

1. Start with your nearest fresh fruit and vegetable store and grab a basket. Go down all the aisles and only put in your basket whichever fruits and vegetables are selling for the best and cheapest price in terms of quality and quantity. The selection of “sale price” fruits and vegetables tend to differ from week to week, allowing for not only an affordable selection of varied fresh produce but also a wider range of nutrients.

2. Go next to your local supermarket of choice and be prepared to only reach out for “best deal” options. The produce section is always the first area when you walk into most supermarkets, but since you will have already bought your fruits and vegetables, just walk right through towards the deli section. I usually do a quick scan of the deli area to see if there are any exceptionally good deals available but if not, I keep moving.

3. Beyond the deli section you’ll start to encounter the meats in the back of the store, as well as the first aisle entry. My strategy when supermarket shopping is to specifically look for: a) whichever protein foods are on sale, to include eggs, all lean meats, seafood, and vegetarian options; b) top up on the cheapest complex carb options, such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, oats, seeded breads, etc. (root vegetables would have been purchased at the fruit and vegetable store); c) choose whichever dairy (and/or refrigerated vegan) products are on sale, and d), top up on any pantry staples that need replacing.

The main thing to keep in mind is that your objective is to specifically seek out the weekly deals on: fruits and vegetables, meat and non-meat proteins, complex carbohydrates, and dairy and/or vegan cold products.

Once you get home, it’s always a good idea to start food preparation right away. I almost always plan my grocery shopping trips on days that I am off work and have enough time to shop and meal prep all in one go. You’ll find that by practicing this one habit, the likelihood of food being wasted will be significantly reduced.

By now you’re probably wondering how I create my meals without having planned an advance menu, and the answer to that is that I simply mix and match the groceries I come home with. All of our meals are built around the concept of a balanced plate that contains some type of lean protein, a complex carbohydrate, a decent size serving of vegetables, and a small serving of some type of healthy fat (such as avocado, nuts and seeds, or olive oil, for example). By the end of the week, if protein options are completely used up, I start using pantry supplements such as beans and legumes.

Finally, it’s not necessary, but if you enjoy baking as much as I do, I use up ripened or excess fruits and vegetables by making bread loaves and muffins, and I use dried fruits and nuts to make biscuits; I prefer to have healthier home-baked sweets on hand in place of store-bought packaged goods.

A final tip: have plenty of portable containers available to pre-pack meals for school and work, and to also store ready-made meals in the freezer that can be pulled out later in the week and re-heated.

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A Brussels Sprouts Recipe You Might Actually Enjoy

Jannine Myers

Brussels sprouts are one of those odd vegetables that people seem to either love or hate; I personally love them! If you’re in the “indifferent” camp and don’t mind eating them, but won’t go out of your way to buy them because you’re not sure how to cook them or what to pair them with, give this recipe a try.

I made this a couple of nights ago, and not only was it super quick and easy, but it was also really delicious. And on a nutritional note, there are so many reasons why you should include brussels sprouts in your diet, including the following:

– a great source of fiber, manganese, potassium, choline, and B vitamins

– high in Vitamins C and K

– a reasonably good source of protein when compared with other green vegetables

– can potentially fight different types of cancer and improve bone health

[The following recipe directions recommend adding the brussels sprouts last, and cooking for no more than 5 minutes – brussels sprouts are nutritionally optimal when they are not overcooked].

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Ingredients

1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsps Thai red curry paste

3 cups cubed cooked pumpkin, kumara, and potato (to save time, I stopped at the deli section of my local supermarket and picked up a pre-packaged container of already roasted vegetables).

1 can (400g) organic black beans

1 can (400g) coconut milk

brussels sprouts, washed and halved (about 2 cups)

brown rice, cooked (to serve as base for the curry)

Directions

Heat oil in pan, and gently saute the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes. Add the red curry paste and cook for a further 1 or 2 minutes.

Add the cooked vegetables, coconut milk,, and drained black beans. Cover and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts and a sprinkle of organic sugar, and stir through. Cook over low heat for a further 5 minutes and remove from the stovetop.

Serve hot over cooked brown rice.

[Recipe by Angela Casley, Viva]

No-Bake Apricot-Oat Slice

Jannine Myers

It hasn’t been much of a summer here in Auckland, but unlike the absence of sunshine there is definitely an abundance of sweet summer “stone” fruits. I’ve been enjoying daily servings of my choice of plums, peaches, nectarines, and apricots, and while I love seeing my fruit basket full, the fruits sometimes ripen faster than we can get around to eating them. When that happens it’s time to get innovative. Yesterday I did just that, and the end result was a No-Bake Apricot-Oat Slice made with pantry ingredients already on hand:

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Ingredients

5 or 6 medium size apricots

1 tsp sugar (optional)

1/4 cup peanut butter with chia seeds

1/4 cup blackstrap molasses

1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 cups organic oats

1/2 cup whey chocolate protein powder

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

A few large chunks of dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao)

Directions

Skin and roughly chop the apricots, then add to a small saucepan. Add enough water to soak the apricots and bring to a slow boil (add a little sugar if you wish). Once boiling, cover and simmer until the fruit softens. Remove the lid, increase to medium heat and allow the water to evaporate. Reduce heat again and add remaining wet ingredients (peanut butter, almond milk, and molasses). Slowly heat the mixture through, then remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a separate mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients and mix together. Next, add the apricot mixture to the dry ingredients and combine well. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and lightly grease. Pour the mixture into baking tray and spread out evenly using a spatula.

Melt the dark chocolate and spread over the apricot-oat slice. Refrigerate for at least an hour, then slice and store in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated.

Enjoy with your morning or afternoon tea/coffee, or as a pre-workout snack (and although not as sweet as store-bought granola bars, they’d also be a great, and healthier school snack).

Energy-Loaded Chia-Coco-Walnut Cookies

Jannine Myers

I’m “that person” who never lets any food or ingredient go to waste. I will find a way to use pretty much everything in my refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, even if what needs to be used up doesn’t seem to go with anything else I have on hand. Earlier this week for example, I had about a 1/4 cup red miso paste left, so after a quick scan of my refrigerator I knew I had enough vegetables to make an easy coconut-miso curry. Yesterday, as I was taking something out of the pantry, I saw a few almost-empty packages and jars and decided to get busy baking :)

The end result: these energy-loaded Chia-Coco-Walnut cookies!!! Delicious!

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Here’s how I think I made them (hard to remember since I didn’t follow a recipe, but I’m pretty sure the following ingredients and directions are accurate):

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1 cup Bob Redmill’s Gluten Free 1-to-1 baking flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1 cup Bob Redmill’s Gluten Free oats, plus an additional cup pulsed into flour
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup organic coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup organic raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup black chia seeds

[You don’t need to use gluten free or organic products; that’s just what I had on hand]

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Heat coconut oil and agave nectar in a microwaveable bowl, then mix well and leave to cool slightly.
  3. Combine all remaining ingredients (reserving 1/4 cup oat flour) in a large bowl.
  4. Add the slightly cooled coconut oil and agave to the dry ingredients and mix well. If the mixture is too moist and sticky, add more of the oat flour until you reach a dough-like consistency that holds well.
  5. Roll mixture into balls and place on baking trays and press the balls down using the bottom of a glass.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes. After the cookies have been out of the oven for about 10 minutes, place them on a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Baked Cashew Oatmeal Bars

Jannine Myers

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe, so here’s one that can be enjoyed by everyone in the family. I got the idea actually from a friend’s Facebook page; she’s a fitness and health coach who advocates as I do, a mostly whole foods approach to diet. On her page, she showed a picture of her young son demolishing a baked oatmeal bar, and in her comments she added, “It’s the perfect low glycemic option and high in fiber…….”

Admittedly, my bars probably don’t meed the same standards as hers (she didn’t post her recipe so I have no way of comparing), but I am taking a guess since the glycemic and fiber profile of mine are not quite as favorable. However, on the plus side, they are much more nutritionally dense than commercial bars – they contain less sugar, healthy fats, and 4g of protein per slice -.and they’re perfect for rushed on-the-go breakfast snacks or mid-afternoon energy slumps. Give them a try and see what you think!

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup cashew butter (soak raw cashews in hot water for at least an hour and then pulse into a butter)
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 1/8 cup raw honey and
  • 1/8 cup agave
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup gluten free rolled oats
  • ¾ cup Bob’s Redmill gluten free one-to-one flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cashew butter, coconut sugar, honey and agave, egg, coconut oil, and vanilla until fully combined.
  3. Add in the oats, flour, salt, and baking soda and mix until combined. Add the chocolate chips and fold into the batter.
  4. Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  5. Allow to cool in the pan, then cut into bars and store in a sealed container (they freeze well too).

Help your Children By Feeding Them Nourishing – Not Harmful – Food

Jannine Myers

In a recent report from the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, the authors listed several reasons for the alarming global increase in childhood obesity; these included:

  • biological factors
  • inadequate access to healthy foods
  • a decline in physical activity in schools
  • and the unregulated marketing of fattening foods and non-alcoholic beverages.

Our kids are living in an age where childhood obesity is not going to go away without governments enforcing some major policy changes, but as parents we can help by ensuring that our kids eat reasonably healthy and get enough exercise. In today’s post, I want to share how a nourishing diet can enhance a child’s health, mind, and body. This is the story of a friend’s son, and his recent accomplishments after a forced change in diet.

Haruna’s son Jet is just ten years old, and he recently ran and finished – before the cutoff time – a half marathon. A couple of weeks later he also completed a challenging 10k mud run. While it’s not uncommon to see young kids of Jet’s age participating in running events, it is unusual to see them completing the more difficult adult distances; that made me curious about Jet and his ability to do what many other 10-year olds cannot do.

A couple of years ago, personal circumstances resulted in Haruna taking better control of Jet’s diet, despite his resistance. Haruna says, “Jet always liked meat and less veggies…. and eating pretty much chocolate or anything sweet. He like a lot of sugar.. he’d eat just sugar if he could.”

In an effort to “clean up” Jet’s diet, Haruna stopped buying processed snacks. She used to always have an ample supply in the house but she decided to stop that and only buy snacks on occasion, as a treat. Now, when her son and daughter go shopping with her, she allows them to choose just one snack each, and she no longer takes any home to store in the pantry.

The next step Haruna took in changing Jet’s diet, was to limit his meat intake. In the past she served him meat almost daily, because that’s what he liked and so that’s what she cooked. His meals were typically meat-heavy with just a small side-salad; now he eats more vegetables than meat. That didn’t happen over night, but was instead a gradual process that involved reducing Jet’s meat servings, and introducing him to different kinds of salads and dressings in an effort to make vegetables more appetizing.

Haruna says it was around eight months or so after changing Jet’s diet that she began to observe some noticeable differences in his body. Jet’s exercise routine – since the age of four – had pretty much remained the same, yet Haruna noticed that Jet was leaner and more toned.

In addition to Jet’s physical changes, his stamina and endurance seemed to have improved. Although running is probably in his blood (Haruna runs, and her grandfather has many medals to show for the multiple marathons he has run), Haruna believes that Jet’s weight loss and new diet habits most likely made it easier for him to achieve his half marathon goal. She inferred that his weight loss not only produced a greater level of physical energy, but also an increase in mental energy, as shown by his strong resolve to complete an incredibly tough challenge.

Jet pushing forward at this year's Ayahashi Half Marathon (April 24th 2016)

Jet pushing forward at this year’s Ayahashi Half Marathon (April 24th 2016)

At just 10 years old, Jet completed a half marathon and proudly earned his finisher's certificate!

At just 10 years old, Jet completed a half marathon and proudly earned his finisher’s certificate!

Haruna isn’t sure what Jet’s next race goal will be, but her goal for him is to one day run a full marathon with her! Somehow I can see that happening…..

Jet and his mom Haruna on right - at the Famous Hansen 10k Mud Run April 24th 2017

Jet and his mom Haruna on right – at the Famous Hansen 10k Mud Run April 24th 2017

 The take-away from sharing Haruna and Jet’s story:

  • You can improve your child/ren’s diet – with small but consistent changes. Be patient, and you’ll see that those small changes will eventually produce healthy and strong bodies, and happy and positive minds.

Turning Kid-Favorite Meals into Kid-Healthy Meals

Jannine Myers

Even at the age of 12, my younger daughter is still incredibly picky, but I generally don’t let her eat foods that have no place in our home; i.e. those foods that come in packets and boxes and with ingredient lists a mile long. I do understand however, her frequent cravings for the types of comfort meals that many kids – and even adults – are drawn to. Still, we compromise with such meals and she lets me “re-create” them; in other words, I make them from scratch using the most nutrient-dense ingredients. Last night for example, I made her a healthy version of sloppy joes and received no complaints.

[Note: making these sloppy joes from scratch did cost more because I added fresh vegetables and used organic ground beef, but I’d rather contribute to my child’s health than to a slightly greater spending allowance]

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound organic ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Shredded cheese
  • Whole-wheat kaiser rolls

Directions

Brown the meat in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, breaking up the meat as it cooks. Pour the drippings out of the pan and discard, and set the meat aside. Add the garlic, onion, carrot, and red pepper to the pan (with a little olive oil) and saute for 5 minutes or more, stirring occasionally. Transfer half the vegetables to a blender, and add half the tomato sauce. Pulse into a puree and pour into a jug or small bowl. Do the same with the remaining vegetables and tomato sauce. Return the meat to the pan, along with the pureed vegetable sauce, and all remaining ingredients. Bring back to a boil over medium heat, and then simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve over toasted bread rolls, with a little melted cheese and a side of vegetables (I added roasted cauliflower and raw carrots).

GLTR – Girls Love To Run

Jannine Myers

WOOT wrapped up another successful run-club program a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to the generous time and coaching contributions of WOOT member Alli Kimberley, some of our young aspiring runners were able to spend twelve weeks getting a taste of what it’s like to get up early on Saturday mornings and run on various types of terrain at different locations. Here’s what Alli and some of the participants and their mothers had to say about the program:

What made you decide to start GLTR (Girls Love To Run), and what was the main objective in offering this program?

Alli: I started GLTR (pronounced Glitter), because I wanted to pass on all the gifts that running has given to me; running has given me confidence in my own strength and abilities. I wanted the girls to realize they were strong and capable, and I wanted to give them something that would stay with them wherever they found themselves.

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Alli in back center

How was the program structured?

Alli: GLTR ran on all different terrain: pavement, trail, and track. We started at 1 mile the first week and over the next eight weeks we increased our distance with the aim of eventually running a 5k. The last four runs were 2-3 mile runs on our favorite roads, purely for enjoyment. The last four weeks were definitely my favorite; the girls were comfortable running and they were starting to realize the joys of running without worrying about distance or speed.

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What were the ages of the girls?

Alli: The youngest was 4 and the oldest was 12; most of the girls were between 7 and 9.

Did you encounter any problems?

Alli: The main problem was that myself and some of the moms sometimes had trouble making it on time to the GLTR runs, after finishing earlier-morning WOOT runs. And I may have been a bit ambitious in thinking the girls would remain motivated for 12 weeks, although they seemed to enjoy it all the way through so I guess it wasn’t really a problem.

How do you think the girls handled the weekly runs?

Alli: The girls did incredible. We had a few that seemed like they were going to struggle and hate every minute after the first run, but they all finished the 5k with smiles on their faces. I emphasized running “at your own pace.” Almost all of the moms ran with us, and were able to let their daughters run at their own pace. I tried to ensure that the runs were on trails or paths that they could not get lost, so that no one had to feel pressured to keep up.

What would you do different next time? 

Alli: Next time I might push the runs back from 9am to 9:30am, and maybe only do eight weeks. Additionally, I’d like to try and mark the courses in some way.

And a few comments from the moms and girls:

What did your daughters most enjoy most about the program, and would they do it again?

Abby (7 yrs old): It was awesome but hard. I like running against the water. I would do it again.

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Abby’s Mom: I liked it being bonding time with me and my girl. She could get a taste of why I love to run.

Lauren (12 yrs old): I loved the beach run. I like that I became a better runner. I dropped three minutes off my mile time in P.E.! Yes, I would do it again.

Lauren’s Mom: I enjoyed getting out and moving with my daughter. I’ve not been the most active person, but this group motivated me to make some changes. The different locations were wonderful too!

Morgan (9 yrs old): I liked running with friends; I’d definitely do it again.

Gigi: I liked running with my mom, and with my friends, and I liked making new friends.

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Gigi’s Mom: Gigi liked cheering friends on at the finish line, and she enjoyed going home and telling her dad about how far she ran. This gave her confidence and really made her feel good.

Was there anything your daughters did not like about the program?

AbbyRunning –  and it smelled like cow poop! (her mom says, “That’s a direct quote” 😂😂)😂  )

Lauren: I didn’t like that I didn’t get to sleep in on Saturdays!

Morgan: There wasn’t anything that I didn’t enjoy about the program.

Thank you so much Alli Kimberley, for sharing your love of running and instilling so many great values in the hearts and minds of all the girls who participated in GLTR; WOOT appreciates you!

Mini Recipes For Mini Wooters

Jannine Myers

We now have budding WOOTers following in our footsteps; well, actually they’re called GLTR (Girls Love To Run), and pronounced “Glitter.” They’ve only been at it for a couple of weeks so we’ll let them get more fully established before reporting on them, but in the meantime here’s a couple of nutritious recipes for your active girls: Pork and Red Lentil Shepherd’s Pie, and Flourless Mini Choc-Nut Muffins.

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Pork and Red Lentil Shepherds Pie

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic

1 medium carrot, roughly chopped

1/2 lb lean pork pieces

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cups organic chicken broth

1/2 cup water

1 cup red lentils, uncooked

2 tbsps tomato sauce

1 tsp worcestershire sauce

2 medium sweet potatoes (orange or yellow)

2 tbsps butter

1/2 cup shredded cheese

 

In a frying pan, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil, then add the carrots and let cook for a few minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a blender or food processor. Add 1/3 portion of the chicken broth to the blender, and pulse until the vegetables are minced.

Next, add the pork to the fry pan and cook for a few minutes (add a little extra oil if needed). Once the meat is brown, add the flour and quickly whisk. Then slowly add the remaining broth, making sure to whisk as you’re pouring so that there are no lumps from the flour. Stir in the water, tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, and mix well. Add the lentils and vegetable mixture, and slowly bring the liquid to a boil before lowering the heat and simmering (cover with lid), on low for approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

While the lentil mixture is simmering, boil the sweet potatoes until tender. Mash with the butter (and a little milk if too dry).

Fill individual ramekins with the the cooked lentil and pork mixture, to two-thirds full. Top each ramekin with mashed sweet potato and shredded cheese, and top with black pepper. Bake in a 375 F pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.

Flourless Mini Choc-Nut Muffins (super easy by the way)

Ingredients

1/2 cup sunbutter

1/2 cup peanut butter [or use any nut butters you have, either a combination or just one kind]

2 medium sized bananas

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla (try making your own!)

2 tablespoons of honey

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Chocolate chips – a small handful

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place all ingredients, except the chocolate chips, into a blender or food processor, and blend until well mixed. Pour batter into a greased mini muffin tin. Top each muffin with a few chocolate chips. Bake for approximately 10 minutes.

 

[Taken from this recipe]