Oct 24, 2012

Almond Butter with Sea Salt and Agave

Who doesn't love a good almond butter? Okay, maybe if you have a nut allergy, you're not a fan. But otherwise, I think it's one of the yummiest, most versatile foods around. Almond butter also scores high in the nutrition department because it's a good source of protein and fiber, even calcium and iron.

One of my good friends is absolutely, completely and utterly addicted to almond butter from Trader Joe's. She stocks up so that she never runs out. This said friend is also a self-proclaimed non-cook. Case in point: she made a smoothie a few weeks ago and posted a picture on instagram to show how far she's come in the cooking world. But - good news friend - if you can blend, you can make almond butter! So, when I came across this delicious, easy-as-pie almond butter recipe, I knew I had to make it, not just for my one friend, but for all my friends (that's you)!

So, here we go. Prepare yourself for the most simple, tasty recipe your food processor has ever seen.

Start with your ingredients. Are you ready? There are three. Seriously.

Grab 2 cups of almonds, 1 teaspoon of sea salt and 2 tablespoons of agave nectar (it's like honey, but with a thinner consistency). If you don't have agave, honey totally works too.

Next, load the almonds and salt into a good food processor and blend (or pulse...whatever). After a few minutes, add the agave.

Keep blending for about 10-15 minutes. The nuts will start to ball up right before they get creamy. Just be patient, it'll happen. I like mine with a tiny bit of crunch, so I blended for about ten minutes. 


I enjoyed my tasty salty/sweet/nutty creation with some sliced apples for a snack. Store it in an airtight container in your fridge.

The fun thing about making your own nut butter is all the easy variations you can try. Next time around, I might go for some vanilla, cinnamon or cocoa action.

Have you ever made your own nut butter?

Oct 20, 2012

Warning: This Post is Not Gluten-Free

You may have noticed a little trend these days: gluten-free foods. Lately, it seems like more and more food products are labelled "gluten-free". Do these labels look familiar?

Garbanzo beans don't naturally contain gluten.

This is a bag of coffee I recently purchased. Last time I checked, coffee beans don't contain gluten either. Granted, the gluten-free label may be on food products with additives that contain gluten or those that have been processed on equipment that may have been exposed to gluten. But I wonder if companies are placing these gluten-free labels on products in attempts to increase sales from consumers who believe gluten-free diets to be healthier? It sure seems like it.  

The truth is that while gluten-free diets have gained popularity in recent years, they are only medically necessary for those who have Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity. But in other cases, simply restricting gluten in your diet is not likely to yield health benefits. 

A true "gluten-free" diet is very restrictive and omits things like wheat and other wheat products, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). Wheat in particular is in so many food items that maintaining a strict gluten-free diet can be very challenging. Gluten is even found in some medications!

 I've read and heard claims that gluten-free diets can aid in weight loss but this just isn't true. Sure, someone who follows a gluten-free diet may lose weight, but it's likely because they're eating fewer calories from all the dietary restrictions than purely from avoiding gluten. 

So, that's the scoop on gluten-free diets. I'm not sure how much extra revenue food companies have earned from gluten-free adds, but it would be nice to see gluten-free labels geared towards supporting those who really need them rather than the latest fad diet.

Oct 11, 2012

Black Bean Turkey Burgers

This week is one of those weeks. The kind where your to-do list is reeeeally long and your motivation to do anything on that list is low. Have you been there? Maybe it's the cold-bug we're passing around in our family? I dunno.

To give myself a break, I tried to stick to really easy meals this week. You know how it goes with easy meals....sometimes they're not as good as you want. But thankfully, I landed on a turkey and black bean burger recipe that was super-easy, yummy, and healthy! Triple score. 

It even passed the husband test, which when it comes to healthy stuff is quite high in my opinion. It also passed the dietitian test because of all the healthy ingredients: lean ground turkey and black beans are great sources of protein and iron plus the beans add fiber. Paired with a whole wheat bun and a salad, it was a nice end to a long day. Definitely making them again soon!

*Cook turkey burgers until internal temp reaches 165 degrees F.

Black Bean Turkey Burgers 
Adapted from Turkey Bean Burgers


  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 100% whole wheat burger buns
  • sliced tomato and onions and lettuce leaves for topping

In a small bowl, add the egg, chili powder, onion powder, pepper and salt. Combine turkey with mixture and mix well. Shape into patties. Spray skillet with cooking spray and cook burgers over medium heat for 4-5 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 165° and juices run clear. If desired, top with a slice of meunster cheese, tomato, lettuce and onions.

Oct 1, 2012

Building Hope...and Cupcakes

Isn't it nice when someone encourages you? A kind word, a nice gesture, they go a long way. Last week on my morning jog with the little ones, a neighbor who I hadn't yet met took one look at my double jogger going uphill and said "What a great Mom! We need great Moms; they build hope for the future".  I was totally out of breath (from the hill AND from what he said). I managed to respond with a "thank you" and felt an instant pick-me-up. Mommyhood is wonderful, but oftentimes unappreciated by others. So it was awesome to hear encouraging words.

The jury is still out whether taking my kids for a jog constitutes being a good mom, but the take-away was clear: great moms are not only needed and important, they build hope for a better future. Hearing these words reminded me of the influential role we moms play in the lives of our kids and therefore our community. That's pretty awesome.

Now onto cupcakes....

That afternoon, Will, James and I went to a neighbors house for dinner. We were in charge of dessert and I decided to try a cupcake recipe using applesauce. I know, I know....why mess with a cupcake recipe? Go big or go home, right? Well I read that this recipe was actually really delicious and wouldn't disappoint someone wanting a real cupcake experience (namely, me and the kids!).

A few simple ingredients: boxed cake mix + 1 cup unsweetened applesauce + 1 cup water

I had a little helper. His hand looks weird here, but I swear he has normal hands.

We followed baking instructions per the box recipe and added some caramel buttercream frosting on top to complete the dessert. This is definitely not "healthy", but it's certainly healthier than original recipe and tasted amazing. The texture was super-moist and made me reconsider ever using eggs and oil in a cake mix again. All the kids (and adults) at the dinner were totally fooled and loved them. Mission accomplished!