Food, health, healthy eating

National Food Holiday’s: Banana Day and Trail Mix Day

Month after month, we get to celebrate our National Food Holiday.  In August there are many to count!  One to two foods tocelebrate daily.  Everything from watermelon, to bacon, to banana and then wrap the month up with trail mix.  So many
recipes, so little time!  

For this week, two celebrations in one.  Banana Lovers (August 27th) and Trail Mix (August 31st).  Best of both worlds combined in my delicious Banana Coconut Trail Mix.

Bananas are a staple in my house.  My husband actually calls them ‘Monkey Sticks’ because “That’s what monkeys eat, he says referring to himself!”  I think we go through a dozen weekly and why not?  It’s a perfectly packed fruit with tons of benefits.  Bananas are perfect for a pre-workout snack, sliced up in your overnight oats, tossed into a smoothie, blending into a recipe for added sweetness or dehydrated to add to your trail mix!!!  Bananas have 422mg of Potassium which is 12% of your recommended daily value.  In addition, they have Fiber, Protein, Magnesium, Vitamin C and Vitamin B-6.  What’s not to love!

Trail Mix can be just about anything you want it to be.  Walk down an aisle of any supermarket and you’ll see 50+ varieties of trail mix.  Savory, sweet, spicy, and chewy.  You want it, they have it!  Now the key to choosing the right one, or in my case making it, it should not have any added sugar or gluten.  It’s just additional calories that you don’t need.  MAKE IT.  if you’re not going to make your own, you can easily pick up your favorite dried fruit and nuts and combine it yourself.

So where did trail mix come from?  Who thought of it?  Horace Kephart, that’s who!  He was an outdoorsman and this was his snack of choice and recommend it to some hikers and viola, the perfect snack was born!  Thanks Horace!  Much appreciated.

Onto my mix.  I bake mine to add some toastiness to it.  It’s a cross between a granola and trail mix.  The reason why I add oats is to give some carbs without having the added sugar.  When you think about trail mix and what you pick out first…it’s the chocolate.  Let’s be real.  Baking it and adding the oats gives it that something extra.  I also add my homemade dehydrated bananas and unsweetened coconut chips.  It’s the tropics on the trail!!!

Banana-Coconut Trail Mix
Ingredients:
2 cup Gluten Free Oats
1 cup coconut chips, unsweetened
1 cup dehydrated banana chips
½ cup raw cashews
½ cup raw almonds
½ cup raw macadamia nuts
½ cup raw pepitas
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
1 tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
3 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:
Pre-Heat oven to 225 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, nuts, seeds, cinnamon and salt.

IMG_2117

In another mixing bowl, whisk egg white on high, with hand mixer, until stiff.  Fold in vanilla gently once whites are stiff.

IMG_2118

Then fold dry and wet ingredients together, being careful not to overwork the egg whites.

Transfer to baking sheet lined with silpat or parchment paper.

Bake for 60 minutes total, stirring every 20 minutes to break up into large pieces.  After the first 20 minute stir, add in the cococut and conintue for 40 more minutes.

IMG_2121

Let cool completely  and then add the dehydrated bananas before storing.  About 30 minutes.  Can be stored for up to 2 weeks in airtight container.

IMG_2124

All you need now is your sneakers and a great trail to enjoy this amazing Trail Mix.  

Enjoy the Holidays!

Food, health

Aloha Acai! A healthful version of your favorite Acai Bowl with No Sugar Added Granola!

A good friend of mine moved to Hawaii about four years ago.  What a treat for her and her husband, and, quite frankly, a treat for me because I visited yearly!!!  Living on Oahu they became accustomed to the native land and lived like the locals.  I was always amazed every time I went how much they knew about the island and all of the local treasures – where to go, what to see and what to eat, all in such a short period of time.  The land of Aloha!!!  There are so many things I have fallen in love with on Oahu, but who’s kidding…I go for the food, sand and ocean (in that order!!!!)  Some of the local fare that is a must:  Leonard’s with their AMAZING malasada’s, Marukame with their DELICIOUS handmade udon noodles, and Lanikai Juice with their UNBELIEVABLE Acai Bowls.  Everytime I go to Hawaii, I do not leave without getting these local treats.  Yes, you can get udon and acai bowls in the states, but they have a different taste here.  Trust me.

If you haven’t had a traditional Acai Bowl, you are definitely missing out.  They are delicious, creamy, sweet, crunchy and pretty much the perfect meal!  Fruit, granola and a touch of honey.  I’m addicted to them.

So what is acai anyways?  Acai is a berry found in Central and South America.  It’s an inch long with a purple reddish tint and comes from the acai palm tree.  It’s known to have more antioxidants than it’s cousins:  blueberries, strawberries and raspberries!

acai_berries_hand.jpg (360×240)

palmitoju_ara.jpg (400×500)

And why should you eat them?  Studies have found that eating these little gems can support the following (there are many, but I’m keeping it to my top 5!):

  1. Heart Health.  Acai is known to be extremely high in anthocyanins, which is associated with lowering cholesterol levels in the blood.
  2. Aids in Weight Loss.  Known to nutritionists as a superfood, acai is great for with weight loss in addition to maintaining weight.
  3. Promotes Skin Health.  Brazilians have been eating acai berries for centuries to treat skin conditions due to the high antioxidant content.  Acai Oil has been known to be a natural alternative to chemical based skin-care products.
  4. Helps with Digestion.  We’ve learned recently that having a healthy digestion can aid in your overall health.  Acai has detoxification capacities and is a good source of dietary fiber.
  5. May help fight cancer.  Being very high in Vitamin C and ellagic acid, acai has been known to suppress cancer due to the immune-system-boosting combination.

Acai is just plain good for you!  Now, the Acai Bowls, they can be a different story.  A typical bowl has over 50 grams of sugar and averages around 400 calories.  This is for the traditional acai bowl.  So the question is…are they making you fit or fat??  The acai pulp itself has zero grams of sugar.  That’s right, ZERO.  So it’s all the extra stuff we are loading them up with that may not be too healthful.

What’s the solution??  My No Sugar Added Granola for one!  The next, purchase NO SUGAR ADDED acai packs.  I found some at Sprouts by Sambazon.

So here it is, my recipe for Acai Bowl with Homemade No Sugar Added Granola!

No Sugar Added Granola
Ingredients:
2 cups Gluten Free Oats
1/3 cup chopped raw pecans
1/3 cup chopped raw almonds
1/3 cup raw pepitas
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla

image1 (2)

Directions:
Pre-Heat oven to 225 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl combine oats, nuts, seeds, cinnamon and salt.

image2 (3)

image3 (2)

In another mixing bowl, whisk egg white on high, with hand mixer, until stiff.  Fold in vanilla gently once whites are stiff.

Then fold dry and wet ingredients together, being careful not to overwork the egg whites.image4 (2)

image5 (2)

image7 (1)

Transfer to baking sheet lined with silpat or parchment paper.
Bake for 60 minutes total, stirring every 20 minutes to break up into pieces.
Let cool completely before storing.  About 30 minutes.  Can be stored for up to 2 weeks in airtight container.

Now that your granola is made, onto the Acai mixture.  I used the guidelines of Sambazon, and tweaked it a bit for my liking!

Acai Bowl
Ingredients
:
1/4 cup blueberries
1/3 cup sliced strawberries
1/3 cup No Sugar Added Granola
1/2 cup coconut waterimage1 (3)
1 tsp honey (if desired)
1/2 sliced banana
1/2 frozen banana
pinch of chia seeds (if desired)
1 packet of Sambazon acai, unsweetened

Directions:
Blend 1/2 frozen banana, acai and coconut water into blender.  Blend until desired consistency.

image2 (4)

Once blended, transfer into bowl, add remaining ingredients!

image3 (3)

image5 (3)

Hopefully I have taken you back to the land of Aloha!  And if you haven’t made it to the Pacific Islands, maybe this will help you feel like you’re there.  This is about half the amount of sugar and calories as a typical Acai Bowl.  You can make it even less, by not adding the honey.

Enjoy!