Getting Healthy

Making the Perfect Protein Bites

 

Getting adequate amounts of protein is important for all women, not only die-hard athletes.

Adequate protein is important for both appearance and long-term health, especially among active women….(okay, now find me one woman who is not active…usually we have more on our plate than one person could possibly handle, right)…

So why is protein so important…and why should we find ways to eat more protein at breakfast…and how…

  1. Protein can keep us, or help us get, skinny. Replacing calories consumed in carbs with calories containing protein contributes to a decrease in fat tissue.
  2. Protein can prevent damage to our cells caused by stress.
  3. Protein controls hunger all day. Eating a high-protein meal, such as Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, early in the day triggers a hormonal response that helps keep hunger at bay all day.
  4. Protein is good for your bones, especially important given the high risk of osteoperosis in women. Protein is vital to proper calcium absorption and bone growth.
  5. Protein is good for your hair. A well-balanced diet is important to keep your hair growing to its fullest. Protein deficiency can cause your hair to grow slowly or not at all.
  6. Protein is good for your muscles. Protein can help our bodies maintain and build muscle mass, important to women as we age. Drinking a protein shake or eating a high-protein snack after working out also helps promote muscle repair.
  7. Protein is good for your skin. Protein can help reduce aging and skin damage caused by the sun.
  8. Protein triggers thermogenesis, also known as a “faster metabolism,” and signals the body to burn more calories before, during, and after meals.
  9. Protein will keep you fuller longer. Eating foods high in protein makes you feel fuller sooner than foods classified as carbs or fat and helps controls appetite later on.

 

“Protein bites” are a great way to boost your energy levels and “recharge” your batteries throughout the day…plus they are super-easy to make…

 

(Simply combine the ingredients, chill for thirty minutes, and roll into 1″ balls, Store in airtight container in fridge, unless indicated otherwise…so this is why I’ve simply listed ingredients, instead of directions with each of the following “recipes.”)

 

 

 

 

1. Peanut Butter No-Bake Energy Bites

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

 

 

2.  Chocolate Protein Bite…(roll in cocoa after shaped)

  • 1 1/2C pitted dates
  • 1/2C rolled oats
  • 1/4C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4C flaxseed meal
  • 1/4C chocolate protein powder
  • 2Tbsp honey
  • 1Tbsp espresso powder

 

 

 

3. Coconut Peanut Butter Bites

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

 

 

4. Nutella Energy Bites

  • 1C old fashioned, rolled oats
  • ½C crispy rice cereal (or shredded coconut)
  • ½C Nutella
  • ¼C peanut butter
  • ½C ground flaxseed
  • ⅓C honey
  • 1Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • ½C chocolate chips

 

 

5. Pumpkin Energy Bites

  • 1C old fashioned oatmeal (uncooked)
  • 1/4C pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2C wheat germ
  • 1/3C honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate morsels

 

 

6. Raw Cookie Dough Bites

  • 2C blanched almond flour
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • 1/4tsp sea salt
  • 1/4C coconut oil (solid but soft)
  • 1Tbsp honey
  • 2Tbsp almond butter
  • 2tsp vanilla
  • mini dark chocolate chips
  • stevia to taste, if additional sweetener is needed
Food on Fridays, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Tempura

Getting Healthy

Midnight Snacking

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

Blame your midnight refrigerator raids and before-bed snacks on your circadian rhythm, or inner time clock…or come up with any other excuse that you can possibly think of, but how many of us find ourselves raiding the refrigerator in our pajamas  before we go to bed every night or while anyone in their right mind would be asleep?

 

Honestly does it really matter why we find ourselves nibbling away, but instead which snacks should you choose at night?

Thankfully not all midnight or before-bed snacks are that bad for you, and some snacks can actually help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

 

So exactly which “health-conscious snacks” should you grab first when raiding the fridge at night?

 

In order to make sure that your bedtime snack can actually help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, there are certain ingredients to look for. These ingredients, as well as sources for these ingredients, include…

1. Carbohydrates

  • Why carbs?…Carbohydrates boost the production of serotonin and melatonin and help reset your circadian rhythm. Carbs also increase your insulin levels, which in turn affects the levels of the crucial sleep-regulating gene PER2 so that you’re drowsy when you should be.

How carbs?

  • Bananas…Bananas are the perfect bedtime snack…not only because bananas contain not only healthy, complex carbs…but also abundant amounts of potassium and magnesium, two minerals which help your muscles relax, and tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your body produce serotonin….(more on this below)…
  • Popcorn…Air-popped popcorn contains only thirty calories per cup and is an ideal late-night-TV-watching snack food.
  • Whole-Grain Crackers…The high-fiber content and low glycemic index of whole grains create a steady stream of glucose in your system throughout the night.

 

 

2.  Folate

Why folate? Folate helps to regulate sleep patterns, especially in older people.

How folate?

  • Hummus...The main ingredient in hummus is chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, which are not only rich in folate, but also vitamin B and tryptophan.

 

3.  Magnesium

Why magnesium?…Magnesium is a muscle-relaxing mineral that plays a key role in regulating sleep. Yet studies have shown that nearly 70% of adults do not get enough magnesium in their daily diets. Magnesium deficiency has been linked not only to insomnia, but muscle cramps, which can also disrupt sleep.

  • Almonds and Almond Butter…Almonds are a great source of magnesium…so grabbing a handful of almonds or enjoying a tablespoon of almond butter before bed may help you fall asleep — and stay asleep longer. (more on nut butters next post)…
  • Granola…Granola, oats, and other whole grain foods not only contain those all-important snooze-promoting carbs mentioned above, but also contain magnesium.
  • Lentils…Lentils are a superfood that are not only a great source of magnesium, potassium, and protein…but also are high in fiber and low in fat, so you can enjoy them without worrying about gaining weight.

 

4. Melatonin

  • Why melatonin? Melatonin is a sleep-regulating hormone that regulates your internal clock and basically tells your body when it’s time for bed. We talked about melatonin as a supplement in an earlier post, but there are foods that actually contain natural melatonin as well, such as…

How melatonin?

  • Cherries and Cherry Juice…Cherries and cherry juice, especially the tart variety, are rich sources of melatonin, as well as antioxidants and carbohydrates. Studies have shown that people who drink eight ounces of tart cherry juice twice daily fall asleep sooner and then sleep an average hour-and-half longer than those who don’t.
  • Walnuts…Walnuts another natural source of melatonin….not to mention that they’re just plain good to eat.

 

4.  Protein

Why protein? Protein helps create tryptophan, the sleep-promoting amino acid (see below)…

How protein?

  • Edamame...Edamame is high in fiber, protein, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
  • Cheese and Cottage Cheese...Cheese is full of casein proteins, which provide sleep-inducing tryptophan. Actually cheddar cheese contains more tryptophan than turkey, gram for gram. Eating cheese thirty minutes before going to bed not only will help you fall asleep faster, but has also been shown to improve your metabolism.

 

5.  Tryptophan

  • Why tryptophan? Tryptophan is a sleep-promoting amino acid that the brain uses to make serotonin and melatonin, hormones that promote relaxation and control sleep and wake cycles.

How tryptophan?

  • Cereal and Milk…Milk already contains tryptophan, but adding the carbohydrates of a good whole-grain, low-sugar cereal makes this tryptophan more easily available to the brain.
  • Greek Yogurt…Not only does Greek yogurt contain tryptophan, but Greek yogurt is also a rich source of protein and calcium, both of which can help regulate melatonin production and help you get your sleeping habits in check.
  • Peanut Butter…Most of us grew up loving peanut butter, and my Dad would always peanut butter before bed every night when I was growing up. Wonder if he knew that his favorite night-time snack was rich in tryptophan…(or if he really cared?).
  • Pumpkin Seeds...Pumpkin seeds are packed with a variety of essential nutrients,including substantial amounts of tryptophan.

 

Three final important tips as far as midnight snacking…

  • Avoid sugary snacks at bedtime because these will cause a quick glucose spike that can interfere with sleep quality.
  • Be sure to keep these midnight or pre-bed snacks light. Keep your selection as a 150 to 200 calories actual snack, instead of another complete meal in itself.
  • Eat no later than thirty minutes before bed so that your body has enough time to digest the food and absorb the nutrients before you go to sleep.