Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nothin' but Nola Recipe: Pumpkin Pancakes with Almond Flour

Serve up these delicious and nutritious pancakes tomorrow for Halloween and you'll have some happy campers!! Plus you can feel GREAT about feeding them to your family, because pancakes don't get much healthier than this! Use your Halloween-themed cookie cutters to make these even more festive and put a big smile on your kiddos' faces!!

If you're searching for almond flour, you may find it as "almond meal" - same thing!! It's ground almonds! You could make your own if you're feeling crafty (yes, you can be crafty with food!)! I'm able to find almond flour and ground flax in the bulk section of our local grocery store. You may need to try your local health food store like Whole Foods, Sprouts, Fresh Market, or Natural Grocers.  

By the way, I snagged these two cute cookie cutters (pumpkin + ghost) at Michael's 4 days before Halloween for 70% off!!! They were 29 cents each. Score!!

Pumpkin Pancakes with Almond Flour
(makes about 4 servings of 3 pancakes)

1 1/2 cups almond flour/almond meal
2 tbsp ground flax
1 tsp organic ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Ginger
1/4 tsp Allspice
2 bananas, mashed*
4 tbsp organic pumpkin puree
3/4 cup of milk (add more for thinner pancakes)
1 cup Goin' Nuts granola

*I substituted bananas for eggs. The rule of thumb is to replace every egg the recipe calls for with one medium banana (or about ¼ cup mashed banana).

Mix it! Cook it! Flip it!
1. Combine almond flour, ground flax, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice.
2. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas and add pumpkin puree and milk.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined.
4. Spray your cookie cutters with cooking spray (I use olive oil). Set on hot skillet and pour in batter. Add more batter for thicker pancakes or less for thinner ones!
5. After about 3-5 minutes, carefully remove the cookie cutter, using an oven mitt. Flip once the bottom side is firm and browned.
6. Allow another 2-4 minutes for the other side to cook.*
7. Top with granola and some honey or maple syrup and enjoy! 

*These pancakes will take longer to cook than your normal pancake.

You can buy our fresh + healthy, organic-based granola here

xoxo Lauren

For more: Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Twitter  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nothin' but Nola Recipe: Jack-o-lantern Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake for Halloween

Oh hey October 21st, it's almost Halloween!! Am I the only one who finds it insanely crazy how the days sneak past so quickly and before you know it another holiday has arrived?! It's almost Halloween, folks!! So to celebrate, I just HAD to bake up a tasty jack-o-lantern-inspired treat, because who doesn't love adorable pumpkin-carved faces!!

When I first started planning this recipe, I knew I wanted to use a natural dye to create an orange icing. So I went straight to The Google, herself! She's one smart lady! I found out that carrot juice is one of THE best orange food dyes. So it was decided. It's pretty easy to find 100% carrot juice at the store. I used Bolthouse Farms 100% carrot juice. As you can see, it lived up to all of the hype and created a beautiful orange icing that I was thrilled with!

I have not listed an icing recipe below, because I'm still working on that. If you're interested in a healthier-alternative icing recipe, let me know. When using carrot juice to dye your icing, start out with 1 tablespoon of carrot juice and continue to add one tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired color. Keep in mind, you want your icing to be fairly thick before adding the carrot juice, because if not you're going to end up with runny icing. Not very aesthetically pleasing! ;)

If you're looking for a gluten-free cookie cake, this one is THE BOMB! We're using fresh-ground oat flour. I couldn't stop eating the cookie dough. I nearly gave myself a belly ache! I must work on my self-control around sugar. It's seriously becoming a problem.

As for the jack-o-lantern face, we're using our nutty and sweet Goin' Nuts granola. It's perfect! It adds such a sweet, delicious flavor to your bite of cookie cake! It also makes a super fun recipe to bake up and decorate with your little ones!

Now before we get started, let me make this clear - this may not be the healthiest cookie cake on the planet. Yes, there are two sticks of butter. But don't go hating on butter -- choose real butter over margarine which is a hydrogenated oil. My focus is on creating delicious, nutrition-filled recipes that you can feel great about eating. Life is about balance, though. I encourage finding that balance in your life and loving on yourself rather than berating yourself. So if you splurge and make this delicious cookie cake for your Halloween party this year, don't fret! Just have a small slice. :) Life is sweet. It's OK to enjoy that sweetness every once in awhile!

Jack-o-lantern Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
(16 servings - makes 15" cookie cake)

Grab it!
½ cups oats
2 sticks butter (1 cup)
3/4 cup organic brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp organic vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 cups oats (ground into an oat flour using your food processor)
1 cup extra dark chocolate chips
Orange Icing
1 cup Goin' Nuts granola  

Mix it. Bake it. Ice it. Decorate it!
1. Using a mixer, mix butter and sugars until combined (may be slightly crumbly).
2. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
3. Grind oats in a food processor until they're the consistency of a flour.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the baking soda, salt, and oat flour. Add to the wet ingredients. Mix until combined.
5. Add chocolate chips. Yes!!
6. This is the fun part - time to get your hands dirty! Spread the dough onto a 15 inch pizza stone (or a lightly greased round pan). Your cookie WILL spread so leave 2-3 inches around the sides and form cookie cake so that the center of the cake is thicker than the edges so that once it spreads it's even.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
8. Let cool. Then top with icing. I left about 1 inch around the edges for a nice cookie "crust" to hold when eating!
9. Decide on a funny jack-o-lantern face and start decorating with your granola!

*I used a 15inch round pizza stone and had a little cookie dough drip over the edges during the baking. So I seriously recommend leaving several inches around the stone for your cookie to spread. I also recommend making your cookie cake much thicker in the center so it spreads across the enter cookie cake and not from your edges onto the bottom of your oven! :)

*Buy icing or make your own and use 100% carrot juice as a natural dye! Don't worry about flavor - you can't tell there is carrot juice in there!

You can buy our fresh + healthy, organic-based granola here

xoxo Lauren

For more: Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Twitter  

Friday, October 17, 2014

#nbnhealthyliving: how to read a nutrition panel

What you put in your mouth affects the way you feel. It affects your appearance. It affects the way you move. It affects the way you think. It affects everything about you!! So being aware of what you're putting in your mouth is very important!

Have you ever been served one of those "surprise" ingredient meals? I was once when traveling! And trust me, it's slightly scary. Of course I'm slightly apprehensive about eating some dish that I have no idea what's in it! Most of us want to know exactly what we're eating. So then why do so many of us grab items off of the store shelf without turning them over to see what exactly is in them?

We end up consuming chemicals, food-like-products, and all kinds of junk without knowing it. Ladies and gents, it's time to get to know a nutrition panel. Because it's really important to know more than how many calories are in a serving. We need to know exactly what we're putting in our mouths. So let's educate ourselves.

What's below:
  • What is a Nutrition Panel?
  • Does the serving size really matter? Can I just eat the whole bag?
  • I don't know what some of the ingredients are. Are these just preservatives?
  • What about Food Allergen labeling? What are manufacturers required to label?
  • Calories vs Calories from Fat - what is the difference?
  • Should I be more concerned by Calories from Fat?
  • How much of each nutrient should I consume daily?
  • What if I still have questions?

I hope this helps you to make easier, quick and informed food choices for you and your family, in order to live a healthier life.

What is a Nutrition Facts Panel?
The FDA requires all packaged food to be labeled with a Nutrition Facts Panel and Ingredient List, as well as Food Allergen Labeling. The Nutrition Facts Panel is the square/rectangular shaped box on the back or side of your food product, labeled "Nutrition Facts". It lists serving size, calories, and detailed nutritional content (total fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, protein, etc.).   The Ingredient List is often listed right next to or beneath the Nutrition Facts Panel. This lists each ingredient in descending order of predominance by weight. The labeling of food allergens is typically listed along with this information (see below for more info).

Does the serving size really matter? Can I just eat the whole bag?
Yes, serving size does matter and no, I wouldn't recommend eating the whole bag in one sitting (though sometimes it is tempting, I know)! The serving size is a great way to judge the nutritional value of the food. Let's take a look...

One serving of Lays Classic Potato Chips is 1oz (about 15 chips). How full are you after eating one serving of these? Typically, not full at all. Instead, you're left screaming for more!! Now what about one serving of almonds, which is 1 oz (about 28 nuts)? Unlike the potato chips, one serving of almonds typically leaves you satiated and with a happy belly. Why is this? Almonds are a nutrient dense food versus potato chips which provide you with a bunch of empty calories.

So next time you're trying to assess the nutritional value of a food rather quickly, take a look at the serving size. Would one serving leave you satiated (satisfied fully or completely; full)? You can find the serving size listed at the very top of the Nutrition Facts.

I don't know what know some of the ingredients are. Are these just preservatives?  
If you can't pronounce it or don't know what it is, steer clear of it. You should be consuming wholesome, real food. If it's a real, wholesome food or ingredient, then (most of the time) you should be able to:
 1) pronounce it
2) know what is it
3) not have to google it to find out the chemical process through which is was created

Unfortunately, it's difficult to pick up packaged or processed food these days and not find some long, strange word that you can't pronounce, listed in the ingredient list. My recommendation is this - if over 30% of the ingredients are strange to you or you cannot pronounce them, you should probably put it back on the shelf. However, the 3 rules above don't always hold true (they do most of the time). So, if there are a few ingredients listed that are strange or new to you, go ahead and Google a few. You may find out it's something you're comfortable consuming and it's not that strange after all. Just be a smart consumer and be more aware of what you're putting into your mouth.

*note: in the nutrition panel posted here (for our Goin' Nuts 12oz bag) the ingredient labeled "natural flavoring" is Pure Vanilla and the ingredient labeled "spices" is Organic Ground Cinnamon. You will see this listed specifically on our new labels (coming soon!). 

A few good things to know about the Ingredient List:
  • The ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance by weight. That means the ingredient that weighs the most is listed first, and the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last. *(if the first ingredient listed on your cereal is sugar, you might as well add some milk to a cup of sugar and call it a day. the first ingredient listed is what you're consuming the most of.)
  • Spices, flavors, or artificial flavors may be declared in the Ingredient List by using either specific common or usual names ("Organic Ground Cinnmamon", "Pure Vanilla Extract", etc.) or by using the declarations "spices", "flavor", "natural flavor", or "artificial flavor"
  • If water is added as an ingredient, it must be listed in the Ingredient List

What about Food Allergen Labeling? What are manufacturers required to label?
There are allergies everywhere today with some of the most well-known allergies being gluten and nuts allergies. So it's extremely important for individuals with severe allergies to be well aware of the foods they're consuming and whether or not those foods have come into contact with, or contain, a food allergen. The FDA has taken steps that require the labeling of packaged foods to contain food allergen warnings.

Under The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA), a "major food allergen" is an ingredient that is one of the following eight foods or food groups or ingredient that contains protein derived from one of them: milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, soybean. According to the FDA, these "major food allergens" account for 90 percent of all food allergies. So if you're concerned, first check the Ingredient List (this is your best friend for finding out anything and everything that's included in that product). Next, look below the Ingredient List. Here, you will typically find the Food Allergen warning. It should look like this

CONTAINS: any food allergens found in that food (i.e., WHEAT,  MILK, WALNUTS)

Calories vs Calories from Fat - what is the difference?
You will find Calories and Calories from Fat listed directly below the Serving Size. Let's define these better:

"Calories" are total calories in one serving from all sources - fat, carbohydrates, and protein. 

"Calories from Fat" are just the calories you're receiving from fat (not carbs + protein).

On every Nutrition Facts Panel, you will also see "Total Fat" listed in grams. Every gram of fat contains about 9 calories. So, to figure out the "Calories from Fat", you merely multiply the # of grams of "Total Fat" by 9. Voila!! So when you see "Calories from Fat", they've just done the math for you! 

Should I be more concerned by Calories from fat?
We are a society that is frightened by fat, which is why they have isolated the calories from fat and listed it separately under the Nutrition Facts. Take a seat, I'm getting ready to blow your mind. FAT doesn't actually make you fat! Wait. What?! It's true. The body actually needs fat. It's a major source of energy. But that's for another post and another day! So in short, no Calories from Fat should not scare you. I hope this merely helps educate you and encourages you to read more! 

How much of each nutrient should I consume daily?
On the right side of the Nutrition Facts, you'll see a column labeled "%Daily Value*". It is much easier to learn how to read this rather than memorize how many grams of each nutrient you should consume daily! So, let's learn how.

Let's say you're consuming a snack that has 50 mg (per serving) of sodium. That is 2% of your recommended daily intake (based on a 2,000 calorie diet). To find out how many grams of each nutrient you should consume daily, look at the very bottom of the Nutrition Facts. You'll see below, that for a 2,000-calorie diet, you should consume less than 2,400mg daily. So, 40mg for a snack is OK.

What if I still have questions?
Read and learn more! With the internet, you have a wealth of information at your fingertips. But don't read just one article and take it for truth. Read lots. Get lots of different opinions and form your own thoughts and opinions. I'm still learning! I am no expert! But if you do have questions, I would love to help you find the information to make informed decisions about your health. You're only given one body. Treat it well and make smart, informed decisions about the food you're eating!! You can find more great information from the FDA here.

What other topics would you like to learn about in our weekly #nbnhealthyliving series? Let me know in the comments below!

xoxo Lauren

You can buy our fresh + healthy, organic-based granola here

For more: Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Twitter 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Nothin' but Nola Recipe: Quinoa Oatmeal + Granola

I love oatmeal. It all started my sophomore year in college when I bought my first cookbook and started learning all of the basics! The cookbook had an amazing recipe for oatmeal. I made it one weekend with my beautiful mother, while at home. We fell in love and started making it every weekend I came home! Since then I've experimented and made countless oatmeal recipes. This is one of my favorites!!

We are taking a traditional favorite and giving it a fun and quirky twist - we're substituting quinoa for oats! This is an awesome way to start your day with a great big ol' dose of protein! Quinoa is one of the highest protein grains on the planet and provides all 9 essential amino acids!! Heck yeah quinoa!!

I first made this yummy breakfast dish last winter. I think it came to be for several reasons: I was in love with quinoa at the time, had a lot of cooked quinoa in the fridge, and didn't have a lot of time before work to throw together a healthy breakfast. So, I tried this concoction and quickly realized I'd created a gem!

Just a fun fact - before we started selling Nothin' but Nola, Mom would mail me a large bag of it every now and then to enjoy! So, this recipe was created before Nothin' but Nola was born. All thanks to snail mail and Mom sending me a bag of her delicious granola, that we now sell. :)

Quinoa Oatmeal + Granola
(one serving)

Grab it!
1 banana
1 cup organic quinoa
1 tbsp organic brown sugar
1/2 tbsp organic coconut oil
organic ground cinnamon, to taste
1/4 cup Goin' Nuts Granola
optional toppings: fresh berries, apples

Mash it! Mix it!
1. Mash banana
2. Add quinoa, brown sugar, coconut oil, and ground cinnamon. Mix well and heat over stove until warm or in microwave for 30sec-1min.
3. Top with granola and optional toppings and mix well.
4. Enjoy lovelies!

You can buy our fresh + healthy, organic-based granola here

xoxo Lauren

For more: Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Twitter  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pumpkin Greek Yogurt + Granola Parfait

In case you haven't walked outside or gotten anywhere near social media in the past two weeks, IT'S FALL Y'ALL (#itsfallyall has been a trending hashtag)!! And it's been quite a big deal, as it rightfully should be. Who doesn't just love this time of the year - it's the perfect temperature, you can drink apple cider out of a cute little mug, and pumpkin-flavored everything is everywhere!! I'm pretty darn happy about all of it! So I'm sharing our first pumpkin-flavored recipe of the year!

This is super easy to throw together and makes a tasty afternoon treat or healthy dessert! I may have to throw some dark chocolate shavings on top to dessert-ify this bad boy, though! What can I say, I love chocolate! Either way, this is yummy. If you enjoy yogurt + granola for breakfast, then put a little pep in your step with pumpkin!

Pumpkin has some AWESOME health benefits (look out for a future blog post) and I've added in some ground flax for some super nutrition. If you don't do dairy, there are some awesome soy and coconut milk yogurts out there. Oh and this pumpkin parfait is PERFECT with our original goin' nuts granola

Pumpkin Greek Yogurt + Granola Parfait

Grab it!
1 cup (or single serving container) vanilla greek yogurt
4 heaping tbsp organic pumpkin
spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice OR pumpkin pie spice
1-3 tsp honey, for desired sweetness
2 tsp ground flax (it won't change the flavor .. just adds some great nutritional benefits)
1/2 cup Goin' Nuts granola

Stir it! Layer it!
1. Combine all ingredients except for the granola. For your spices, you can use pumpkin pie spice OR use a combo of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. Don't have all of the spices? Just use whatever combo of these spices are in your pantry - it'll still be delicious, I promise!
2. Layer pumpkin yogurt with granola in a bowl or container (glass containers are awesome because then you can see the deliciousness you just created!).
3. Enjoy, my loves!

You can buy our fresh + healthy, organic-based granola here

xoxo Lauren

For more: Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Twitter