Jen’s Apple-Walnut Bread

Headed out the door in the morning for a walk, a strength training session, work or maybe you are savoring a cup of coffee and a chapter in a good book to start your day? A breakfast that has some protein, fiber rich carbohydrate and healthy fat = WIN. A slice of quick bread that is healthier and delicious can be an excellent “go to”. I approach any quick bread asking myself how I can make it healthier without jeopardizing taste or texture? Two of my typical tweaks are: Plain Greek yogurt instead of oil and I decrease the sugar by up to 50%.

This is my current favorite. I tried it with all oat flour instead of half-half and it didn’t end well. I do recommend using 1 cup of flour. I do think you could use white whole wheat or whole wheat instead of all-purpose. I didn’t try that because I didn’t have any on hand, but I think it would be A-OK. Be cautious about adding any other moist ingredients (or adding too much Greek yogurt) – you could end up with a mushy texture that just won’t bake. How do I know that? Let’s just say that the opossums and raccoons that live in the woods near my house are used to finding some tasty things in my compost pile. Since it is made with Greek Yogurt, I slice it and keep it in the refrigerator until I’m ready to eat it. Here you go!

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats (ground into flour)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 /2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (not packed)
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups shredded apples (2 large) plus a few extra chopped apple chunks for texture
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots (optional)
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Stir all ingredients except apples and walnuts together until well blended. Stir in apples and walnuts at the end. Pour batter in to a loaf pan that has been lined with parchment paper and lightly sprayed with cooking spray. You can sprinkle some finely ground walnuts on the top of the loaf before baking to make it extra “pretty”. Bake at 350 F for 60 – 70 minutes until done. Ovens vary, so I’d start with 60 minutes then check on the status and go from there. Remove from the pan onto a cooling rack. Slice into 10 generous slices or 8 very generous slices. Using the ingredients stated above and 10 slices, each slice will be about 200 calories with 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.

Note: You can use any recipe builder to calculate calories and macros of any recipe. MyFitnessPal and Loseit! are examples of free nutritional tracking apps that have recipe building capabilities.

Stay HEALTHY. Be STRONG. Get AFTER It!

Protein Mousse

I few years ago I was hungry for a dessert and wanted something like cheesecake or ice cream. I went to my fridge to see what I had and I came up with what has become a very simple and versatile recipe that I call Protein Mousse. 3 primary ingredients with optional ingredients such as berries, chocolate. crushed nuts or graham crackers. You will need a food processor or a heavy duty blender. I use my food processor since it’s easier to get the mousse out of without wasting any of the good stuff and it is much easier to clean.

  • 3 cups (24 oz container) cottage cheese
  • 2 cups (16 oz) plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 package Sugar Free Jello pudding or gelatin mix (powder only)

Place all the ingredients in a food processor or powerful blender and process until smooth. You only use the pudding or gelatin powder – you don’t prepare it as pudding or gelatin. The consistency will be that of a cheesecake batter. The mousse will firm up more once it is refrigerated. This recipe makes 5 generous servings. If you use 2% cottage cheese, fat-free Greek Yogurt and sugar free pudding mix: 180 calories per serving, 25 grams of protein.

VERSATILE. Use any flavor of pudding powder that you want. I like cheesecake, banana cream and coconut cream the best. I’m also a fan of lime gelatin powder.

Before serving / eating: Spoon individual servings of mousse into a bowl or tall glass cup if you want to make it pretty. You can layer the mousse with fresh berries, slices of bananas, sprinkle nuts, coconut, chocolate, etc. on top. For example: If you’ve made your mousse with banana cream pudding powder, layer the mouse with sliced bananas and crush a graham cracker or vanilla wafers on top for a banana pudding dessert. If using a gelatin powder such as lime or orange: Adding pineapple or mandarin orange slices to your serving of mousse immediately before eating = DELISH.

To make a frozen dessert similar to soft ice cream: Before serving, stir in frozen berries of your choice and place back into the freezer for a couple of minutes. Stir again. ENJOY! You can also add chocolate or any other ingredients to the protein mousse, freeze it for a couple of minutes at a time, stir, repeat until you get the consistency you want. DO NOT stir up an entire batch and freeze it solid. Things won’t end well.

Do NOT put any optional toppings into the mousse and store it in the fridge. You want your mousse to stay nice and firm. Add your optional ingredients right before serving.

Stay HEALTHY. Be STRONG. GET After It!

Jen’s Un-Fried Fried Apples

Apples.  They are awesome aren’t they? Fiber. Vitamin C. Polyphenols.  They are delicious raw all by themselves or with a slice of cheese or a smear of peanut butter.  Sometimes, I want my apples to be warm and “dessert-y”.   When I do, I grab a skillet, a knife and some cinnamon and get to work. It only takes a few minutes and you have some un-fried “fried” apples ready to eat straight from a bowl with your fork.

Here is what you do.  This is more of a process than a recipe, so make it your own.  The amount of water, spices, and optional sugar depends on how many apples you slice and throw into your skillet.

Slice your apples.  You can peel them or leave the peel on.  Add enough water to the skillet to cover the bottom and the apples are just barely sitting in some water.  You need the water, but not too much! The apples will release their own juice/water as they cook.  Turn the heat to medium and start cooking your apples, stirring them every so often as they are cooking. Add about a IMG_0669Tablespoon of butter.  Stir, and continue cooking until they apples are to your desired level of tenderness.  Add cinnamon to your taste.  I like to add a little nutmeg and ground clove. If you want your apples to be a little bit sweet, this is when you can add a small amount of sugar or honey. Stir it all up.   That’s it!  Takes only a few minutes.   ENJOY!

Stay HEALTHY.  Be STRONG. Get AFTER It!

Jen’s Greek Yogurt Banana Bread

Quick breads can be a delicious part of your healthy lifestyle way of eating.  Traditional recipes typically include a cup of oil and a cup or more of sugar. GEEZ!  That’s a lot of oil and sugar.  What is a person to do?  Make a few tweaks that don’t jeopardize the taste or texture.  An easy tweak that you can make is to substitute plain Greek Yogurt instead of the oil in any quick bread recipe.  The Greek yogurt provides needed moisture to the recipe plus you get some extra protein. I have found that using Greek yogurt doesn’t change the texture of the quick bread.  Another tweak is to half the amount of sugar called for in the recipe.  BOOM.  That’s it.   The recipe I’m going to share with you originally called for 1 cup of sugar, I use 1/3 cup; it called for 1 1/2 sticks of butter, I use 1 TB and 1 small container of Greek yogurt.

10 SLICES.  190 calories per slice.   8 grams protein.

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  • 2 cups all-purpose flour **
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 overripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 TB melted butter
  • Small container (5 oz) Plain or Vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

**  Without jeopardizing texture, can substitute 1/4 cup of the flour for 1/4 cup vanilla or unflavored protein powder 

Place bananas and sugar in a large mixing bowl; mash the bananas and stir well with the sugar.  Let sit for a few minutes then stir again.  Mix in the melted butter and Greek yogurt then beat in the eggs.  Add the flour, baking soda, salt and vanilla.  Mix well.  Pour into a well greased loaf pan. Optional:  sprinkle with crushed walnuts or pecans.  Bake at 350 F  for 60-ish minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Ovens vary, you may need to bake your bread a few minutes longer. Be careful not to overbake.   Let cool in the pan for a couple of minutes then remove the bread from the pan to a cooling rack.  Once the bread has cooled, slice it into 10 pieces.

ENJOY!

STAY Healthy.  Be STRONG.  Get AFTER IT. 

 

 

COLLAGEN – How to Get More Of It

Anytime you are faced with a change you want to make to your health, always look to nutrition first and what you can do differently to support your body in taking care of itself.  If you don’t go to the source, you are merely putting a band-aid on something and sometimes you are working against your body if you don’t provide it with the nutrients it cosmic-daisyneeds.

Collagen is an abundant protein in our bodies, and it is found in our muscles, bones, skin, blood vessels, digestive system and our tendons and ligaments.  It is what gives our skin strength and elasticity and is what keeps our joints, tendons and ligaments healthier and moving with ease.  Tendons are thick bundles of collagen that connect muscle to bone and allow movement, while ligaments are flexible bundles of collagen that connect bone to bone and protect your joints.

Good collagen production can also ease the pain of osteoarthritis.  As we age, our collagen production naturally slows down.  This degenerative process is accounts for signs of aging such as wrinkles sagging skin and joint pain due to weakened or decreased cartilage.  Collagen helps our tendons ligaments and muscles heal after an injury or surgery.

Collagen is a long-chain amino acid compound of the individual amino acids proline, glycine, hydroxyproline and arginine.  Collagen accounts for 30% of protein found in the body and 70% of protein in skin.   Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.

The good news is, there are some things we can do nutritionally to help support collagen production.

First, a couple of things to stop or dramatically cut down on:  Smoking, excessive sun exposure (yes, that especially means tanning beds which are harmful in so many ways to our skin) and junk food/sugar consumption.  We need the Vitamin D benefits of real sunshine, but we don’t need to be baking ourselves.  Smoking, excessive un exposure and a diet high in added sugar speeds up the deterioration of collagen.

Secondly, the good things to add to your diet that support collagen production.  The biggies are:  Protein / Amino Acids and Vitamin C.Orange Slice

Vitamin C supports collagen production.  Eating fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C helps our bodies to maintain and build collagen.   The top 10 foods for Vitamin C are:  Oranges, Red Bell Peppers, Kale, Guava, Kiwi, Green Bell Peppers, Brussels sprouts, Broccoli, Strawberries & Grapefruit.

Protein from plant or animal based foods such as eggs (the protein is in the egg whites), beans, lentils, plain or lower sugar Greek or Icelandic yogurt, cottage cheese, hard cheese, quinoa, fish (canned tuna & salmon are easy options) chicken, turkey, beef, pork and to a lesser extent: nuts, seeds and higher protein vegetables.  Vegetables highest in protein are asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, artichoke, watercress and yellow corn.  Nuts and seeds have protein and healthy fat.  However, you cannot depend upon nuts and vegetables as your primary protein source.   Quality protein powders whether whey protein or vegan proteins such as hemp, brown rice or pea protein with added BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) can be used to supplement your diet, if you are not eating a sufficient amount of protein (on average 100 – 125g of protein per day for older adults).  Real food is always best, but if you are not getting enough protein, then supplementing can be a wise choice.

Millie foot Walking picExercise is beneficial for our overall health so it’s no surprise that exercise supports collagen production.  30 – 60 minutes of continuous exercise each day (30 minutes minimum) but building up to 60 minutes is optimal and you can do it in two 30-minute sessions).  Walking is excellent and can be done by almost anyone anywhere.  A walk around town, at the park, the parking lot at lunch, the perimeter of a large warehouse store or up and down your driveway gets the job done!  Jumping on a mini trampoline has great benefits for our lymphatic system and bone density.  Bicycling, dancing, taking a group fitness class, lifting weights circuit style are all options. Strength-Resistance training is very important as we age so be sure to prioritize resistance training.  Find an activity and get out there and do it!

Other foods to eat more of to support collagen health.

Red fruits & vegetables due to the lycopene they contain

Dark green vegetables are rich in lutein and vitamin C

Beans help produce hyaluronic acid which is a lubricating fluid found in skin,                   eyes, joints and connective tissue

Prunes & Blueberries are high in antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals before they can do damage

Omega 3 fatty acids help create an ideal environment for collagen production. You find Omega 3s in seaweed, fatty fish, walnuts, chia and flax seeds as well as cod, flax, walnut and mustard oil (can be found in Indian food stores).

Broth made from beef, chicken or fish bones is rich in collagen and can be consumed by itself or used as a base for soup.

Collagen Peptides| Collagen Proteins is a supplement that you can consider for boosting your collagen production.  Choose an unflavored powder and mix it in a glass of juice, add it to a smoothie or add it to a batch of banana bread.   There are also Collagen supplements in capsule form.  Be aware of the different types of Collagen. If you purchase a Collagen product, there are products with a blend of different types of Collagen.

  • Type I: This type accounts for 90% of your body’s collagen and is made of densely packed fibers. It provides structure to skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue and teeth.
  • Type II: This type is made of more loosely packed fibers and is found in elastic cartilage, which cushions joints.
  • Type III: This type supports the structure of muscles, organs and arteries.
  • Type IV: This type helps with filtration and is found in layers of your skin.

Ensuring that we are eating nutritious foods that support collagen production is important for every single person.  If you are an older adult, or someone who is recovering from an orthopedic injury or surgery or an injury or surgery involving your skin, keeping your eye on your health relative to collagen production is essential and vitally important.  It truly isn’t that difficult to do; we just need to know what to do.

Stay Healthy. Be STRONG.  Get After It!
I share my thoughts with you to provide information and food for thought aka pondering, Pondering leads to more reading education and Eureka! Moments. However, please don’t take it as medical advice. It isn’t. If you have a medical condition, or suspect that you have one, always seek care from a licensed medical professional.

Massage & Stretch Your Feet

Our feet are our foundation.  We stand on them, they carry us around from place to place, and if our feet hurt, everything hurts – or so it seems.  Each foot is made up of bones, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments, all of which work together to provide support, balance and mobility.  A foot out of alignment results in discomfort and pain to the foot, ankle, knee, hip and back.   What can we do to give our feet some extra love and attention?

EPSOM SALT SOAK

Soaking your feet for 10-15 minutes in a warm water with Epsom Salts will help soothe your tired feet and relax your muscles.  Magnesium is the relaxation mineral and Epsom Salt is magnesium sulfate.

POINT YOUR TOES

Lift one foot and roll it downward until the toes are pointed toward the ground; hold for 10 seconds then flex your foot; hold for 10 seconds. Repeat using the other foot. This exercise will help stretch out all the small muscles that are on the bottom of your feet, which can help relieve aching and improve blood circulation.

SPREAD YOUR TOES

Spread your toes apart as wide as you can; hold them spread apart for 5 seconds.

SQUEEZE YOUR TOES

Interlace left fingers with right toes (as if holding hands with your foot). Squeeze fingers and toes together and hold for 10 seconds, then stretch wide for 10 seconds. This helps relax, stretch and align your toes.  If this is difficult for you to do you can use toe separators such as a product called “Yoga Toes”. A product such as Yoga Toes might be beneficial for you if you have chronic foot pain, bunions, hammertoe or plantar fascitis. 

ROLL YOUR ANKLES & “Pump the Gas”

Rotate each ankle by doing circles with your ankles, rolling your ankles clockwise for a few rotations, then rolling them counterclockwise for a few rotations. Pump your ankles/feet up and down as if pumping the gas in your car.  “Pumping the Gas” is a good exercise to improve circulation and is something you can do whenever you’ve been sitting for a while such as in a car or a chair.  It is also good to do before you stand up to walk when getting out of bed.

MASSAGE YOUR FEET

Using gentle pressure, start with your toes, using your thumb to massage them in circular motions then move to the arch under your foot and gradually work your way down to the heel, applying pressure with your fingers and palm of your hand. Use lotion to allow your hand to move smoothly over your foot.  Squeeze the back of your calf and massage up and down while pointing and flexing your foot. End with long, upward strokes from the top of your feet to your knees paying attention to the front of your leg and the back of your calves.

Roll a tennis or golf ball back and forth from your toes to your heels. If you are having pain and inflammation in your feet, you can use a frozen juice can for some cold therapy with your massage.

TOE LIFTS

Sit in a chair and place a small towel on the floor. Lift the towel with your toes. Most likely you can lift it with your big toe—for a challenge try lifting it with your little toes.  Progress the exercise by using a marble or a dice instead of a towel.

TOWEL CURLS

Place a small towel on the floor and curl it toward you using only your toes.

Did you do those stretches are you read through this post?  I hope you did.  It felt pretty darn good didn’t it?  If we get in the habit of doing those stretches every day, we will have happier feet and if our feet our happier, then we are happier.  That’s a Win-Win!

STAY Healthy. Be STRONG. Get AFTER It!

Blackberry Oatmeal Muffins

Love muffins, but want something healthier with fiber, some protein and less sugar?  I’ve got you covered.  Give these a try!

Grab a bowl and a spoon & whip up a batch; can use any berry such as blackberry, raspberry, blueberry or mulberry.

1 cup all-purpose flour (or use ½ cup whole wheat & ½ cup all purpose)

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1 TB baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup blackberries (cut in halves or thirds)

1 egg

5 oz container plain or vanilla Greek or Icelandic yogurt

Handful of chopped walnuts

GENTLY mix until blended together. Spoon into 12 muffin tins lined with foil baking cup liners.

Bake at 350 for approximately 20 minute +/- depending on your oven.

Stay HEALTHY. Be STRONG.  Get AFTER IT.