afpa nutrition coach

Dark Chocolate "Cookie" Dough

Every once in awhile, I crave sweets.

And my husband? A lot more often than that. Not to mention the multitude of events I get invited to where I need to bring something, and roasted veggies just won't do.

So I hit the internet to discover what others were making or attempting, and stumbled upon this glorious idea of chickpeas as the base for a dough ... a cookie dough! Any time I discover something on the internet, I immediately close down my computer and dive headfirst into my cabinet. See, I LOVE creating from scratch, and from the ingredients I already have, know, and trust. It makes me feel that much more able to share these recipes with you if I've had to stumble through a few less then delightful iterations before publishing.

I enlisted the help of two trusty friends for a version of this recipe ... Justin's Almond Butter and Eating Evolved Chocolate ... and for another version, Sprouted Cashews and Justin's Chocolate Cashew Butter Cups. These brands are about as clean as they come, and are smaller brands which is a big thing for me - I love supporting the local small businesses whenever I can, especially when their ingredients are on point.

OKAY... so now to the cookie dough. The HEALTHY cookie dough...

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can BPA free organic garbanzo beans
  • 2-3 tbsp almond or cashew butter, or 1/4c sprouted cashews soaked in 1 tsp water
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of sea salt (optional)
  • 2 tbsp raw local honey
  • 1/4c millet flour or almond flour
  • 2 Justin's or Eating Evolved dark chocolate nut butter cups, or 2 tbsp cacao nibs, or 2 tbsp crush raw dark chocolate

You'll need a food processor or high-powered blender for this ... otherwise you're in for a forearm workout!

Instructions:

  • Drain and rinse garbanzo beans
  • Add all ingredients except cacao nibs or nut butter cups into the food processor and set to puree
  • Puree for about 2 minutes until all ingredients are evenly blended
  • Crush or chop the chocolate
  • Scoop out into container and add in the chocolate pieces
  • Fold chocolate into the dough until evenly mixed
  • Refridgerate for at least 30 minutes and dough will harden
  • Serve with celery or roll into balls

Pre-Workout Nutrition & Healthy Snacks

My clients often are already fairly active in the gym, and have begun to reclaim their love for movement. By the time we start working together, they've realized that being healthy, as well as looking and feeling the way they want to, takes more than just an hour of sweat -- it's really tied to your nutrition.

Meals tend to be easy, there are so many great recipes to experiment with, and so many simple tricks we incorporate to balance plates and eat more veggies, fruits, healthy fats, and good protein sources. But when it comes to eating snacks or knowing if/what to eat before working out, and finding things to replace the typical sugary, carby go-tos that so often clutter our cabinets, the real challenge is illuminated.

So this week, I was inspired by my clients' questions around healthy snacks, and wanted to share some of my favorite snacks that can also double as a pre-workout energy booster!

First, let's quickly discuss why eating before working out can be important.

  • I'll caveat this by saying that sometimes fasted cardio or fasted HIIT is good for helping get to a goal, but you should be nourishing your body with protein & carbs within 30 minutes of moving if you're training fasted.
  • If you're planning to workout for an hour or more, having some fuel will ultimately help you have more energy to power through your sweat-sesh, and will prevent your body from eating away at the muscle you're working so hard to build because it needs energy!

Here's some science behind food & how it impacts your body during a workout:

  • Carbs help your body use up glycogen that is stored in your cells, which can fuel both short workouts and high-intensity exercises
  • Fats digest more slowly, and can provide fuel for longer gym sessions
  • Proteins help to prevent muscle damage and promote muscle recovery
  • Water, aka being hydrated, will help you perform your best and sustain your performance

So yes, eating before working out is important!! SO... what can I eat if I'm trying to eat clean, and how can I use this same idea to apply to healthy snacks?

  • Balance your meals with a good ratio of 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat
  • Or if you're visual, try a fist full of carbs, palm size of protein, and a thumb size of fats
  • Aim for whole foods so you can increase volume! For example, an energy bar is just that, a single bar... however for the same amount of protein, carbs, and fats, you could consume an apple, 4-5 walnuts, and a 1/2-3/4 scoop of protein OR a small piece of grilled chicken in a collard green wrap with avocado and grilled veggies. So much more filling, and nutritious!
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So I'll close this out by sharing one of my favorite preworkout snacks - sliced apple with shredded coconut, goji berries, almonds, and a sprinkle of chia seeds. You can sweeten this up a bit more with some low-sugar homemade jam or local raw honey, or swap the almonds for almond butter! What I love the most about this is how full of flavor and complexity this dish is, how many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants this packs, and it takes awhile to eat which helps me feel satiated and re-charged!

Give it a try, add your own healthy twist, and tag me in your creations or post a picture to the comments!!

Sweet Potato-Black Bean Burger in Collard Green "Bun"

Often times when we clean up our diet, we assume that we won’t be able to enjoy some of the foods that we’ve developed memories around, like burgers! A huge part of the reason we enjoy these foods is because of what is happening when we’re eating them, so take burgers for example, usually enjoyed around a group of our friends at a BBQ or game. What you’re really craving is the laughter, friendship, and simplicity of those moments and eating a burger can easily take you back there. But also, burgers are easy and can be a quick meal to serve to the family.

So in order to recreate that in my kitchen, I’ve discovered that making my own patties isn’t nearly as difficult as one would think, and that if I swap out the bread for collard greens and a side of veggies, I can actually eat a lot more and get that same delicious experience.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2c sweet potato mash; can either purchase 2 large organic sweet potatoes to make your own, or if going with canned opt for organic and BPA free
  • 1c cooked millet (this can be subbed for any grain of choice)
  • 1c cooked black beans or kidney beans
  • 1/2c finely chopped almonds or almond meal (can sub for another if allergic)
  • 1/4c diced onion
  • 1/8c diced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. or less of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. each cumin and turmeric, optional to add in paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper
  • Dash of lemon juice
  • 6 medium collard green leaves (if having all six patties!)
  • 1 ripe avocado, cut into slices
  • Any other toppings, such as black sesame seeds, sprouts, tomato, salsa, etc.!

Instructions:

  1. First you will need to bake the sweet potatoes if you didn’t opt for canned (this honestly is a much tastier choice and the fibers that are in the fresh sweet potato help with consistency)
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and cut the sweet potatoes in half, lying them face down on a baking sheet covered with coconut oil. Rub some coconut oil on the back of the sweet potatoes as well, and bake for about 25-30 minutes until super soft to the touch.
  3. Boil water to prepare the beans and millet on stovetop – should also take about 20-25 minutes so everything will be done around the same time
  4. Once everything is finished cooking, remove from heat and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees
  5. In a mixing bowl, add in 1c black beans an mash them down so they’re not completely pureed but have an oatmeal like texture
  6. Add in your sweet potato and lightly mash these as well, mixing with the beans
  7. Add in the millet, onion, garlic, spices, salt, pepper, and tiny dash of lemon juice and add in cayenne pepper if desired for spice
  8. As you’re mixing, the “batter” should be sticky and easily stay together; if this isn’t the case, you can add more rice or more sweet potato mash as needed
  9. Lightly coat another baking sheet with coconut or olive oil
  10. With hands or ice cream scoop, form palm-sized ball of mixture, then press down into a patty shape on the baking sheet. Use fingers to compress the edges so they are smooth. A burger press may work as well, just haven’t tried it! You want them to be about 1/3” thick, or if you prefer a thicker patty can make these however you want. Just note that this amount will make about 6 burgers if left around 1/3” thick
  11. With the oven now at 375, bake for about 30-45 minutes, flipping halfway through to ensure they’re cooked evenly. If you overcook, they will be firmer due to more moisture leaving the mixture so keep that in mind as you go
  12. Wash the collard green leaves and place open on the plate; prep your other toppings and any sides you wish to have with this
  13. When the burgers are done, slide them into the collard green wraps and top to your hearts delight – enjoy!!