Tag Archives: unprocessed

Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites

22 Oct

This weekend marks my sixth half marathon (!) in two years’ time. And this time, I’ve taken on the additional challenge of running a 5k the evening before. My training plan has incorporated shorter runs the day before my long runs, so I feel physically and mentally prepared for this. It’s a Halloween-themed run, and I’m sure I’ll see plenty of amazing costumes on the course. Stay tuned for a complete review and tons of pictures. Until then, I’ll be snacking on these Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites!

Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

All of this running and racing has taught me to pay more attention to the health of my gut. The gut is responsible for digestion, which is insanely important for our health. Probiotics aid in this digestion, which requires the bacteria in our gut to be balanced. An unhealthy gut might result in a variety of unpleasant issues, such as constipation, indigestion, gas, and more (Global Healing Center).

Furthermore, the microbiome that is the gut is thought to affect our brains: how we think and feel. “Recent studies have found that autistic people’s microbiome differs significantly from control groups.” “Gut bacteria can influence anxiety and depression.” Prebiotics have been shown to “lower levels of a key stress hormone, cortisol, and in a test involving a series of words flashed quickly on a screen, [subjects] focused more on positive information and less on negative.” Probiotic eaters “reacted more calmly to images than the control group,” which scientists think “changed the makeup of the subjects’ gut microbes, and that this led to the production of compounds that modified brain chemistry.” (The Atlantic)

Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Finally, “it’s not yet clear how the microbiome alters the brain. Most researchers agree that microbes probably influence the brain via multiple mechanisms. Scientists have found that gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA, all of which play a key role in mood (many antidepressants increase levels of these same compounds). Certain organisms also affect how people metabolize these compounds, effectively regulating the amount that circulates in the blood and brain. Gut bacteria may also generate other neuroactive chemicals, including one called butyrate, that have been linked to reduced anxiety and depression. Cryan and others have also shown that some microbes can activate the vagus nerve, the main line of communication between the gut and the brain. In addition, the microbiome is intertwined with the immune system, which itself influences mood and behavior.” (The Atlantic)

Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Now we know how the gut works, and why it’s so important to maintain a healthy gut! Consuming probiotic foods are one way to aid gut health, but these should be paired with prebiotic foods, to ensure the most effective absorption of nutrients. This is because “probiotics are living organisms, while prebiotics are indigestible fibers that provide nourishment for the probiotics—much like fertilizer for a garden” (Hyperbiotics).

Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Still with me? Let’s get to the recipe 🙂 One form of a probiotic is fermented foods. Tempeh is a delicious, high-protein fermented soy product that can be eaten raw or cooked. Chocolate is also a fermented food (watch Michael Pollan’s series “Cooked” for an amazing look into the fermentation of chocolate). Bananas, almonds, and coconut are examples of prebiotic foods, and thus pair incredibly well with tempeh and chocolate.

Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Tempeh slices ready for chocolate!

I KNOW how weird it sounds to think of tempeh in a sweet application. But TRUST ME, it’s amazing. On its own, tempeh has a wonderful nutty flavor to it. And what’s better than chocolate and banana and nuts?! Dairy-free, semi-sweet or dark chocolate is a simple way to keep these healthy bites vegan, and you should be sure to use chocolate that’s not loaded with sugar (I’m talking to you, milk chocolate).

Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Vegan chocolate chips were on sale, so I stocked up!

Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites

Makes 12 bites

  • 1/2 block plain tempeh
  • 1 just-ripe banana
  • 6 oz semi-sweet vegan chocolate (chips or a baking block are fine – I used Chatfield’s vegan semi-sweet chips)
  • 12 raw almonds
  • 1/4 C unsweetened shredded coconut

Line a baking sheet or plate with parchment paper; set aside.

Cut a block of tempeh into two equal pieces. Save one half for another meal. Then, slice the second half into two thin sheets. Cut each into 6 pieces, so you have 12 total, equal pieces; they should be about one-square inch in size. Set aside.

Peel the banana and slice into even pieces, about as thick as the tempeh squares. You want them to match up fairly well for easy stacking.

In a glass bowl, slowly microwave the chocolate until completely melted. Be sure to stir will every 30-60 seconds to avoid burning the chocolate.

Now for the assembly! Begin by dabbing a little melted chocolate onto one side of the tempeh squares and press a banana coin on top (yes, these are different shapes, but the mismatched look is totally in). Then, spread a little chocolate onto the parchment paper. Place a tempeh-banana stack on the chocolate and spoon more chocolate on top, and spread it down to cover the sides as best you can. Top with an almond and sprinkle with shredded coconut.

Repeat the chocolate-covering process with the remaining tempeh-banana stacks.

Place the sheet pan in the fridge and let set for an hour. Transfer the Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites to an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator.

Eat them cold or let them set out on a counter for 10 minutes before enjoying for a softer treat. I would NOT recommend freezing these, because the frozen tempeh needs to thaw, but this will cause the banana to loose its shape and weep out its juices.

Chocolate-Covered Probiotic Protein Bites | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com


24 Vegan Recipes for October #Unprocessed

9 Oct

October #Unprocessed is well under way, and that means I’ve been cooking more frequently, and more from scratch. Vegan meat alternatives are usually loaded with strange ingredients, so it’s been an interesting challenge to avoid using them. I’m sure others taking the challenge are struggling with this, so I put together a vegan recipe roundup to get you through the day, and the month! Enjoy these 24 recipes from my blog and some of my favorite food bloggers. #Unprocessed doesn’t have to be impossible!

24 Vegan Recipes for October #Unprocessed | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com


24 Vegan Recipes for October #Unprocessed | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Apple Cornmeal Protein Muffins

Piña Colada Oat Muffins

Sheet Pan Pear Crumble

Zucchini Bread Steel Cut Oatmeal

Sweet Potato Chia Pudding

Whole Wheat Apple Pannekoek (Dutch Pancake)

Oats & Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

Lunch & Dinner

24 Vegan Recipes for October #Unprocessed | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Vegan Chorizo Enchilada Soup

Triple Pepper and Tempeh Stir Fry

Slow Cooker Corn, Pepper and Potato Chowder

Mexican Lentil Salad

Nourishing Vegetarian Crock Pot Lentil Soup

24 Vegan Recipes for October #Unprocessed | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Honey Pineapple Tofu Bowl -Sheet Pan Dinner

Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash Soup with Sweet Potato, White Beans, and Red Pepper

Bites & Sweets

24 Vegan Recipes for October #Unprocessed | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Golden Milk Recovery Truffles

Carrot Cake Hummus

Carrot Cake Energy Balls

Lemon Turmeric Energy Balls

Pumpkin Cookie Dough

24 Vegan Recipes for October #Unprocessed | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Maple, Pecan & Date Healthy Stuffed Apples

3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Pie Dip

3 Ingredient Medjool Date Nutty Caramel Protein Bars

24 Vegan Recipes for October #Unprocessed | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Superfood Chocolate Cups

Hazelnut Mocha Energy Bites

Golden Milk Recovery Truffles

3 Oct

Disclaimer: I received free product from Nuzest USA to create recipes with. All opinions are my own; I was not compensated for my time.

Happy October!!! While everyone is welcoming the month with Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Halloween decorations, and Hocus Pocus memes, I’m over here meal planning and reading ingredient lists with a hawk’s eye.

October Unprocessed

Yep, it’s time once again for October Unprocessed! This year is going to be extra interesting, as I have basically gone vegan (albeit sometimes a lenient vegan). That means no dairy, eggs, or honey for me. If you’re not familiar with this annual challenge, Andrew over at EatingRules.com says: “Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients.”

The general idea is that you cut out chemicals, lab-made compounds, and overly processed foodstuffs because these are not real foods. This will be my 6th year taking the challenge, and I’ve learned more about food and my eating habits every single year. I’ve added new vegetables and food preparations to my cooking rotation, and have even spread the love of unprocessed foods to family and friends. And, naturally, I will be running a half marathon on October 22, which is another great test of the #Unprocessed challenge.

Golden Milk Recovery Truffles | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Speaking of running, let’s talk about recovery. Yes, recovery runs, recovery workouts, proper rest, and compression socks all make for a better run come race day. But food is also a massive aspect of recovery! It takes some practice to learn what’s best for your body as far as the food to eat following a long run, hard workout, or race. Which is why you should “train as you race, and race as you train.” {Shout out to the Agile Bettys podcast!!}

Turmeric & black pepper should absolutely be a part of your recovery fuel plan. This combination of spices has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. This is exactly what you want after a race! That’s why Golden Milk has become so popular – it combines coconut milk, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and coconut oil into a warming, delicious drink. And that’s why I’ve made these Golden Milk Recovery Truffles. They combine all the goodness of turmeric and black pepper, plus protein powder, coconut oil, cashew butter, maple syrup, ginger, and cinnamon into a delectable little truffle, which is the perfect treat after exercise.

 Golden Milk Recovery Truffles | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

I’m proud to be an ambassador for Nuzest USA,  where you can use code “behealthy” for 15% off your next order at checkout! These protein powders really are clean and lean – they’re vegan, too, and taste amazing on their own, or blended into smoothies and baked goods!

Golden Milk Recovery Truffles, inspired by VegNews

Makes 12 truffles

Measure the coconut oil and cashew butter into a glass measuring cup and microwave until just melted.

Whisk in the rest of the ingredients until completely smooth and incorporated. The color will be a nice golden yellow.

Line a mini muffin tin with mini paper liners and pour the truffle mixture into each one until nearly full.

Carefully transfer to the freezer and freeze for a couple hours. Once solid, remove truffles from the tin and store in a freezer-safe container.

To enjoy these truffles, let them sit out of the freezer for about five minutes before biting into them.

You could alternatively make bark out of this by lining a rimmed baking sheet or 8×8″ dish with parchment paper and pouring the mixture on top. Freeze, then break into pieces and store in a freezer-safe container.

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