Hammer Protein Choc-Almond Cake-Cookies

Jannine Myers

Since I’m often out doing longer endurance-type activities, I like fueling with inexpensive home-made snacks that contain a good ratio of carbohydrates-protein-fat (approximately 40 to 60% carbohydrate, and 15 to 30% each protein and fat). These cake-like cookies are the result of a few pantry staples that I threw together; they fit the bill for the following reasons:

  • they meet the macro requirements that I personally prefer
  • they fit two-to-a-snack-size ziploc, and are therefore easily portable if I choose to eat them during extended outdoor activities
  • they’re not too sweet, which is great for athletes like myself who have particularly sensitive tummies
  • apart from the slightly chewy texture that comes from the protein powder, they’re fairly easy to eat on-the-run
  • they contain a good quality protein powder that doesn’t have any added fillers, sugars, artificial sweeteners, or any other undesirable ingredients

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Ingredients
1/8 cup Brown rice Syrup
1/8 cup Agave Nectar
1/8 cup Smooth Peanut Butter
1/2 cup Organic Oats, pulsed into a finer flour-like texture
1/2 cup Almond Meal/Flour
1 cup Plain Gluten Free Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda, dissolved in a little Almond Milk
1/4 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
16 Whole Almonds
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly Grease a cookie tray. Whisk the sweeteners and peanut butter until well combined, and add the previously dissolved baking soda. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add the wet ingredients. Slowly add the almond milk, a little at a time, until a cookie dough texture is achieved (not too wet and not too dry). Form golf ball size size cookies and lay out on the tray. Flatten each cookie with the back of a fork, and press an almond into the centre. Bake for approximately 12 minutes and allow to cool.
Makes 16 servings (16 each)
Nutrition Data (per cookie):
Calories 99.81
Fat 3.52g (saturated fat 0.36g)
Carbohydrate 13.15g (Sugars 4.27g)
Protein 4.93g
 
 
Macro Distribution:
Carbohydrate 51% / Protein 19% / Fat 30%
Why Hammer Nutrition Protein? Get the facts here: www.hammernutrition.com/blog/hammer-whey-superior-protein-health-recovery

 

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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Coping Strategies For The Runner Who Can’t Run

Jannine Myers

After moving to New Zealand several weeks ago, I not only fell ill with a bronchial type cough that lasted for weeks, but I also managed to injure myself. Consequently I have done very little running and have had to withdraw from three races I had previously signed up for. As a runner who can’t run, it’s difficult keeping a positive mindset, but the following strategies are helping to keep me motivated in the meantime:

– Acknowledging my disappointment and frustration, and allowing myself to feel those feelings was probably a good first step for me. Once I accepted that I wasn’t going to be able to run for a significant period of time, I was able to make a conscious decision to stop focusing on the negatives and visualize instead on daily and progressive steps towards improved physical and mental health.

Key Tip # 1 – Don’t camp out in the land of misery! Keep marching right on through, knowing that every step forward is a step away from negative thoughts and self-pity.

– One thing that I always find helpful whenever I am struggling with any kind of problem, is spending more time reading, learning, and self-reflecting. I like to wake up early and read and/or listen to motivational articles/books/podcasts, as well as journal and put down on paper what I envision and hope for, and then follow through with positive self-declarations.

Key Tip #2 – Use the time that would otherwise be spent training, doing things that advance your personal growth and character.

– My daily goals had to change! To avoid further discouragement, I had to make a shift in goal expectations. Rather than set myself specific and intense training goals, I set myself smaller and more realistic goals, such as “I’m going to do one thing today to maintain my strength,” or, “I’m going to do 60 minutes of non-impact cross-training today.”

Key Tip # 3 – Modify your goals! Make them manageable (given the circumstances you’re faced with), yet still rewarding enough to invoke enough of a positive stimulus and a satisfying outcome.

– Seek professional help! I’m currently under the care of a physiotherapist who has prescribed a set of recovery exercises for me, and depending on how effective or non-effective they are, we may add some acupuncture into the mix of my treatment. For now, I am abstaining from running, doing other cross-training activities that don’t aggravate my injury, foam-rolling, icing, and attempting to do (at least once a day) the rehab exercises that I’ve been given.

Key Tip # 4 – Don’t try to self-manage your recovery process if it’s obvious that your illness/injury is not improving. Better to seek professional guidance and not run, than listen to your over-eager self who will almost always tell you that it’s okay to keep running.

– Nutrition and diet has always been important to me, but it becomes even more so during times of training, racing, illness, and injury. Just as I would normally pay attention to how I fuel my body during peak training phases, I also pay extra attention to my food choices whenever my body is under other types of physical (or emotional) stress.

Key Tip # 5 – Get interested in nutrition! Seek out information on the web and at the library, or consult a dietitian if necessary; learn what foods will help to speed up your recovery. Since my immediate goal is injury/recovery-related, my kitchen efforts at this time are focused on meals that contain a lot of anti-inflammatory foods such as broccoli, salmon, walnuts, flax and chia seeds, blueberries, and ginger and turmeric. On that note, I’ll leave you with one of my anti-inflammatory (and easily portable) breakfast meals:

Turmeric-Ginger Fruit Blend With Oats 

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Ingredients (Serves 4):

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 small banana

1 small apple

3 dried dates

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 cup oats

Toppings: 

Plain greek yogurt, a couple of pieces of fresh fruit (optional), pumpkin seeds, coconut shreds

 

Directions:

Mix the coconut milk, banana, apple, and spices together in a blender.

In four bowls (or containers with lids), add 1/4 cup dry oats to each. Top with a little water to moisten the oats. Pour the coconut milk mixture in even portions over all four oat bowls. Refrigerate for at least an hour. When you’re ready to eat, top with a dollop of yogurt, some pumpkin seeds and coconut shreds.

Enjoy :)

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).

No-Bake Seasonal Cranberry-Chocolate-Chia Slice

Jannine Myers

I thought this week I’d take the opportunity to share a recipe that some of you might like to make in place of other traditional Thanksgiving desserts such as pumpkin and pecan pie. In one of the social media groups that I belong to, we were asked earlier this week to share a “revamped” fall recipe; revamped in the sense that it contains less sugar, calories, and fat, and more wholesome ingredients. So I took a recipe that I shared some time ago, and tweaked it a little – to make it more fall-appropriate – by using as the main ingredient cranberries.

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Ingredients

for the base:

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup organic unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 tablespoons IsaLean Chocolate Powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

for the berry layer:

  • 1 cup organic dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup frozen blackberries
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 4 tablespoons water, plus additional if needed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil

for the chocolate topping:

  • 1/4 cup Hersheys Special Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1 tsp extra virgin coconut oil, melted

Directions

  1. Grease a small square baking pan with coconut oil.
  2. Process the oatmeal and shredded coconut in a food processor, then transfer to a small bowl. Add the IsaLean powder and salt, and stir to combine. Melt the coconut oil and whisk together with the agave syrup and vanilla extract, then pour into the dry ingredients and mix well. Press the mixture into the baking pan and set aside in the freezer.
  3. To make the berry layer, place the cranberries, frozen blackberries, and coconut oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat. As the mixture starts to warm, add the chia seeds and water, and stir everything together. Reduce the heat to low and allow the mixture to simmer, continuing to stir regularly and adding more water if necessary. The mixture should thicken as the chia seeds absorb the liquid. Once the mixture has thickened into a paste-like consistency, take it off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Remove the baking pan from the freezer and pour the berry mixture over the base; return pan back to freezer.
  4. To make the chocolate topping, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring to combine. Remove the slice from the freezer and pour the chocolate mixture over the top of the berries; spread evenly. Place the baking pan in the fridge to set for an hour or so. Once set, leave the slice at room temperature for a few minutes before cutting into squares. [I recommend storing in the freezer, and letting it sit at room temperature for several minutes before eating].

[Nutrition Info – per slice: Calories 110; Carbohydrates 16g; Sugars 9g; Protein 2.25g; Fat 4.5g; Saturated Fat 2.25g; Fiber 2.8g]

A Protein Powder Solution For Runners On A Budget

Jannine Myers

A question I am sometimes asked is if I can recommend a reasonably priced protein powder. Protein powders seem to inhabit the kitchens of almost anyone who exercises these days, and I can see why since they take the guess work out of calculating recovery and performance-gain nutrition needs. But they’re really quite expensive, and while I can’t recommend a more affordable product, I can suggest a much cheaper alternative.

Powdered milk is an often over-looked nutritional gem. Although not as rich in protein as actual protein powders, it’s still a very good source, and also a great source of magnesium, calcium, and Vitamins A and D. I always have powdered milk in my pantry – admittedly, because I live in a location where typhoons love to stop by – but I actually do use it when I’m out of protein powder. It’s so versatile that it can be used in baking recipes, in smoothies, in oatmeal, and even in sauces and soups.

To help get you started – should you decide to pick up a bag of dry milk powder the next time you’re at the supermarket – here’s a recipe I created that’s quick and easy, and perfectly nourishing after a run or workout.

Milk Powder Protein Cake-In-A-Cup

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Ingredients
4 tablespoons Non-Fat Dry Milk Powder
1 tablespoon Coconut Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 packet Stevia
1 Egg
1 tablespoon Coconut Milk/Cream
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 tablespoons Frozen Blueberries

Directions

Add all the dry ingredients to a large mug

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In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, coconut milk, and vanilla.

Pour wet ingredients into the mug and mix well with the dry ingredients.

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Add the blueberries and gently fold into the mixture.

Put the mug in a microwave and cook for about 90 seconds.

Remove the mug from microwave and allow to sit for a couple of minutes to cool slightly.

Enjoy your mug cake; you should have a nice blueberry sauce at the bottom of the cup :)

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 Nutrition Information: 265 Calories, 6g Fat, 12 g Carbohydrates (4g Sugar), 9g Protein, 15% Calcium, 10% Iron, 8% Vitamin A

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).

Chocolatey-Vegan “Hammer Protein” Brownies

Jannine Myers

Who doesn’t love brownies? I’d say most of us love brownies, and there’s nothing wrong with that unless you’re someone who has a hard time stopping at just one. If that’s you, try making a batch of these not-so-guilty brownies and see if they measure up to your taste standards. I made them for myself and my daughter, and admittedly, they were not sweet enough for my daughter – but, she’s a teenager who loves real cookies and brownies! As for me, they hit the sweet tooth right on the spot, and the texture was perfectly moist.

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Ingredients

  • 5 Chiquita Mini Bananas (the really small ones that fit in the palm of your hand)

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Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a square baking pan with a little oil from the peanut butter jar. Add all the ingredients to a blender, and pulse to a nice smooth doughy consistency. Transfer the dough mixture to the baking pan, and evenly press it out. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Let it cool, then cut into 16 squares.

Enjoy!

Note: compare the nutritional information between

these brownies, and a Betty Crocker brownie:

89 calories                                  164 calories

4.19g fat                                      6.62g fat

43.27mg sodium                         105.38mg sodium

4.36g carbohydrates                   25.11g carbohydrates

2.45g additional sugar                 16.37g additional sugar

4g protein                                    1.72g protein