I love these. These muffins are not only delicious, but they are protein packed, energy boosting, nutritious, and also filling. They are a great way to start the day when you need to grab-and-go, or they also serve as a great snack option when you're hungry. This recipe makes a lot of muffins!
Ingredients for this recipe:
-1 banana, mashed
-2 cups unsweetened apple sauce
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 cup raw honey
-4 cups Old Fashioned oats ( I like Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oats)
-1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
-1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill Whey Protein Powder
-1/4 cup ground flaxseed
-1/4 cup chia seeds
-1 Tablespoon cinnamon
-3 teaspoons baking powder
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 1/4 cups milk
-1/2 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix eggs, banana, vanilla applesauce and honey together in a bowl. Add in oats, coconut, protein powder, flax, chia seeds, cinnamon, baking powder and salt and mix well with wet ingredients.
Then pour in milk and combine. Add raisins last, and divide batter into greased muffin tins. I love this recipe because it makes a large batch. I usually make 6 large muffins and about 9-10 small with this recipe. I keep some out in the fridge (lasts about 3-4 days in fridge) and freeze the rest for later!
Bake 30-45 minutes (depending on size of muffin tins used) or until toothpick comes out clean.
Let's face it. I think we all know by now that sugar isn't great for us. But there is a lot of confusing information out there about what is okay, what sweeteners are "healthy" and how much we are supposed to have. So let's try to break it down right here.
First, let's look at regular table sugar. Sugar is a disaccharide made up of a 50/50 combination of fructose and glucose and usually comes from sugar cane or sugar beets. The disturbing thing here is that most of the sugar that we eat here in the U.S. comes from genetically modified sugar beets. I prefer to stay away from anything that has been genetically modified anyway, let alone the fact that sugar itself is not good for you. Excess sugar intake, as we know, will clearly lead to weight gain. Not to mention, heart disease, tooth decay, accelerated aging, increased risk for certain cancers, can cause insulin resistance which can eventually lead to Type II Diabetes, has no nutritional value whatsoever, and can be highly addictive. This causes a downward spiral of bad health. Clearly not a great option.
So what about sugar in the RAW? This may sound like a more natural option, yet the differences in processing are very minor. Raw sugar does not undergo bleaching so it is darker in color, but the result on your health is pretty much the same. No winner here.
How about raw honey? Now here's one of my favorites. Now don't get me wrong, honey is still a source of sugar, and all sources of sugar will cause an insulin spike and have the potential to cause weight gain if over consumed. Honey contains more fructose than table sugar, but not by much. But let's look at some of the benefits of raw honey for why it could be a better sweetener choice for you. Raw honey contains antioxidants, has antiviral and antibacterial properties, contains phytonutrients that can be anti-inflammatory, has potential to alleviate seasonal allergy symptoms (I am proof of this!), can help a relieve a cough or sore throat, and can even help you sleep better. It works great in baking recipes, and it just tastes good! And why raw honey as opposed to processed honey? It is pure, unheated, unpasturized and unprocessed. This protects all the nutritional elements in the honey.
Let's look at pure maple syrup. Pure maple syrup contains some vitamin B, zinc, calcium, riboflavin and magnesium as well as some antioxidants... but only tiny amounts in a spoonful. You would likely need over 1/4 cup of maple syrup to get any real nutritional benefits (which is probably more sugar than you need!). It has the same number of calories as table sugar with an equal ratio of fructose to glucose. But PLEASE do not buy imitation maple syrups found on grocery store shelves. Most of them are filled with high fructose corn syrup which is NOT natural or good for you. If you are going to use maple syrup, make sure it is PURE.
Agave syrup - Heard of this one? It was pushed as being a "healthy sweetener" for a while, but if we look closely at the facts, we will see why this is not true. Agave syrup is derived from the agave plant. It is higher in calories than white sugar and it is 84% fructose rather than 50% as in white sugar. This was originally thought to be a good thing since fructose itself is less likely to cause insulin spikes in the short term, thus making this a supposedly better choice for diabetics. However, fructose can only be processed by the liver, and if the liver is overloaded with more fructose than it can handle, the extra gets turned into fat, and this could eventually lead to "fatty liver disease". Fructose disrupts normal liver metabolism. This is similar to how high alcohol consumption can disrupt the liver. This is not something we want, nor is this good for us. Plus, the way this is processed from the agave plant, all of the "natural" health benefits of the plant are stripped away before it ever gets to you.
Coconut sugar - This is made from the sap of coconut palm trees. It has a taste similar to brown sugar and contains less fructose than white sugar (making it easier for liver metabolism and has less potential to turn into fat). However, this is higher in sucrose so it will still cause a significant rise in blood sugar. It does contain trace minerals like potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium. Certainly not a health food, but not a terrible option to keep in mind.
Sugar alcohols -What are these? You may recognize the names xylitol, glycerol, sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, or erythritol. These are most commonly found in foods and candy labeled "sugar free". Sugar alcohols are naturally occurring in plants like berries, other fruits, corn husks and birch. These are supposed to pass through the body unmetabolized, causing no sugar imbalance whatsoever. Are they harmful for us? The short answer is no. However, sugar alcohols can have a laxative effect if consumed in large amounts, and if it comes from corn husks (like most xylitol does) it could very likely contain GMOs. Just to be aware....
Then there is Stevia! This seems to be a popular one right now. This is derived from the leaves of the stevia plant. The concentrated extract is filtered into a powder or liquid form. It is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar! A little goes a long way here. It is a natural zero calorie sweetener, but also contains no nutrients at all. Using the dried leaf form would be the most natural choice, and always try to look for organic. The white powdered stevia usually goes through much more processing and bleaching making it not so natural anymore. So since it causes no blood sugar spikes at all, it sounds good... BUT. There is the question being raised that because it is so sweet, this causes the body to expect a blood sugar change, yet it doesn't happen. Some question whether this could actually be stressful to the body and actually cause some harm.. yet I have not seen any studies yet proving this. Just something to think about...
Now here's the big NO-NO!!! Artificial sweeteners are NEVER a good choice. These zero calorie sweeteners may seem like a good idea for weight loss, yet it is one of the WORST mistakes you can make for your health. The risks of these dangerous chemicals far outweigh any benefit you think you might be getting. And the kicker is, most people who become addicted to these sweeteners (and yes, they make you want more and more) actually end up GAINING weight in the long run. Why? Because foods or beverages with these sweeteners provide zero sense of appetite satisfaction. How often do we see someone order a diet soda and then drink it down with one of the most heavily calorie dense items on the menu? These sweeteners can also cause you to have an increased craving for carbohydrates. They have been linked to multiple adverse health effects and are just a bad choice.
So what can we take away from all this information? The bottom line here is that no sweetener is a health food. All sugar of any form will have some negative affects on your body, so they are to be used sparingly. However, I hope that this information helps you to be able to make some informed decisions next time you think about sweeteners you may choose to use. I personally love using raw honey and pure maple syrup for sweeteners at home in certain recipes. I am okay with that, and I make sure to keep the amounts in check. As long as you are careful with how much and how often, make your own choices based on the above information and be smart about it! And what about sugar in fruit? Simple sugars from fruit are not as concerning simply because you are also getting a high amount of antioxidants and fiber along with it. Free sugar that is not bound to fiber in fruit is what can lead to inflammation, blood sugar instability and possibly even Type II Diabetes. Hope this helps!
Planks are an awesome body weight exercise that will always and forever prove to be beneficial. They will never go out of style, do not require any equipment, do not take long to do, and are one of the most effective exercises you can do.
Why are planks so great? They are one of the best exercises for strengthening your core. And why is that so important? Because your core is the foundation of all movement. When your core is strong, you move better... in ALL things. You will lift weights more safely, you will balance better, you will throw a ball with more accuracy, you will protect your back in everyday activities, improve chronic back pain, you will tone your belly, and you will have better posture.
For nurses, having a strong core is essential. Think of all the physical movement necessary in one shift. If we can improve core strength by doing plank exercises, this can be so beneficial in the life of a nurse for work safety and protecting yourself in everyday life. The most common injury feared by nurses at work is usually hurting their back. Strengthen your core! Planks can play a vital role in preventing injury.
Planks engage your rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, obliques and glutes. Not to mention, you will certainly gain upper body strength from holding these positions longer and longer each time.
So how do we do planks? Here are several variations to try:
Go down onto both forearms, keeping elbows directly under shoulders. stretch legs out behind you and go up onto the balls of your feet. Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold your core muscles tight, and think of pulling your navel up into your spine. Hold this position for 30 seconds to start, and try to increase how long you can hold each time you do this.
Straight Arm Plank:
Same as above, but place hands on the ground instead of forearms, keeping arms straight and directly below shoulders.
Come onto your right hand or forearm with elbow directly under your shoulder and stack your feet (or you may place one foot in front of the other if stacking is too difficult). Other hand may be placed on your hip, or raise your arm up straight, in line with other arm. Keep your hip lifted so you create a straight line from your head to your feet. Keep core muscles engaged the entire time. Try to hold for 30 seconds each side.
To increase difficulty if desired, you can always try lifting one foot or one hand while holding your plank. This will create much more of a challenge if that's what you're looking for!
So let's see. Planks require no equipment, can be done just about anywhere, do not require much time at all, yet provide huge benefits with little effort. I'd say that's a win-win! If you're not doing planks, you may want to think about starting!
Who doesn't love a good gummy snack? I know my kids certainly do (and yeah, I do too). The major problem with buying something like this is the grocery store is all the added junk that comes along with most of them. Many gummy snacks have added food dyes that are NOT good for anyone, and have also been linked to many health issues such as certain cancers and ADHD. I would rather do without that, for sure. These homemade gummies are easy to make and have only all natural ingredients so you can be sure they are safe for you and your family - not to mention, they are delicious and fun to eat!
So we start out with 3/4 cup of fresh orange juice and pour into a pot on the stove. Then add 3/4 - 1 cup of fresh (or frozen works too!) strawberries. Heat these together on low, stirring until the strawberries become soft. Then add 2 Tablespoons of raw honey and continue stirring. You want the fruit to dissolve a bit until it becomes somewhat like a compote. Next, remove from heat and puree all ingredients together using an immersion blender (or empty contents into a regular blender). Then let mixture sit for 5 minutes to cool.
Now for the gelatin! This is the magic ingredient for these gummy treats. This gelatin is a great source of protein and makes for excellent homemade treats. This is different from the Great Lakes Collagen that I use in other recipes. Look for this gelatin here. This gelatin will GEL, so it cannot be added to liquids for drinking or other recipes.
The next step is to SLOWLY add 5-6 Tablespoons of the gelatin into the mixture (the more you add the more firm your gummies will be), using a whisk the entire time you are adding the gelatin. This will get clumpy if you add it too quickly and are not whisking enough. Small bubbles will form on the top, and you can skim them off with a spoon if desired so your gummies look more smooth.
Now the fun part! Divide the mixture out into these cute little silicone molds and create adorable gummy shapes! You can find these here. Refrigerate for about one hour to fully set. Then pop them out of the molds, and enjoy! These keep great in a sealed container in the fridge for a week or so.
Last step: Enjoy your yummy gummy treats!
Terri Wentzell is a registered nurse with more than 20 years of experience. She is also a certified personal trainer, wellness coach, fitness nutrition coach, and sport yoga instructor.