Tag Archives: almonds

Pumpkin Muffins with Almond Flour

I’m always looking for new ways to use pumpkin, one of my favorite canned foods, and I love to use pumpkin in a variety of ways. My trip to an almond farm, courtesy of the Almond Board of California, inspired this recipe for Pumpkin Muffins with Almond Flour.

It was interesting to learn about how almonds are grown and to actually see how they are harvested.

Here are some fun facts about almonds:

• California grows 80% of the world’s almonds

• 90% of California almond farms are family farms

• One ounce of almonds supplies about half of your required daily vitamin E, which protects cells against damage. And, almonds are a far better choice than pretzels, crackers and chips.

But, back to the muffins!

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Here’s why they’re better for you:

I used ground almonds for most of the flour in this recipe, and swapped in whole wheat flour for the all-purpose kind. In addition to the pumpkin and shredded apple, whole grain flour boosts nutrition.

These tasty muffins are a healthier choice than store-bought versions because they provide more nutrition for fewer calories. Muffins from the supermarket and coffee shops can have between 300 and 500 calories.

I hope you enjoy these muffins as much as I do!

Pumpkin Muffins with Almond Flour

Canned pumpkin, California almonds, and shredded apple make these muffins moist, tender, and delicious!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
5 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Servings: 18
Calories: 152kcal
Author: Elizabeth Ward

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups almond flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, optional
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups coarsely grated unpeeled apple

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400˚F. Generously coat 18 standard muffin cups with cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, using a whisk.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin, honey, oil, and vanilla until well combined.  
  • Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and combine, using a wooden spoon, until thoroughly blended. Gently fold in the apples.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the 18 muffin cups. 
  • Bake for 13 to 16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove muffins from pan and cool on a wire rack. 

Notes

I find that grinding 1 cup of whole almonds makes about 1 1/3 cups almond flour. 

Better-for-You Chocolate Holiday Treats

I love combining chocolate with dried fruit, or nuts, or both! My friends and family seem to like the idea, too.  They’re always so appreciative when I present them with these super simple, better-for-you treats, which make great holiday gifts.

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How to make healthier holiday treats

There’s no formal recipe for my healthier holiday treats. For each batch, melt 10 ounces of dark chocolate (I use dark chocolate chips)  in a double boiler. You can also melt the chocolate in the microwave. Use a large glass bowl to make room for other ingredients.

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When the chocolate has melted, add 2 cups whole or chopped nuts, dried fruit, shredded coconut, or a combination directly to the double boiler, mix thoroughly, and drop by large tablespoons onto waxed paper.

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Top with festive sprinkles, if desired!

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My latest obsession is macadamia nuts, dried cranberries, and white chocolate. Yum!

www.betteristhenewperfect.com

I prepare several batches of treats with a variety of ingredients.

www.betteristhenewperfect.com

When I need to be mindful of nut allergy, I make the dried fruit treats first and package them up so that they don’t come into contact with nuts. These are a raisin and coconut combo:

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Dip the apricots halfway in the melted chocolate.

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Allow the treats to set for about 2 to 3 hours before packaging.

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Would it be better to forgo the chocolate and eat plain nuts and dried fruit? Yes, that would be perfect, but not nearly as much fun.  I think my friends and family would be disappointed, and so would I!

Happy holidays!

 

No-Diet Tips for Weight Loss

Just thinking about what to eat to lose weight can be overwhelming. The good news is that you don’t have to try so hard!  These three delicious no-diet tips for weight loss will put you on track for easier weight control, and you won’t feel deprived.

Peanut butter smoothie bowl topped with fresh raspberries, bananas, and chopped peanuts.

Peanut Butter, Raspberry, and Oats Smoothie Bowl from Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During and After Pregnancy.

Eat breakfast

Breakfast is an opportunity to include the nutrients you need. The energy it provides helps to jump-start the body and brain after sleep.

I talk here about how studies suggest that eating the morning meal does not guarantee better weight control, and it may seem like I am contradicting myself by suggesting breakfast. However, the research about breakfast and weight loss is inconclusive.

You may skip breakfast because you’re not hungry in the morning. Maybe you’re not hungry in the morning because you ate too much before going to bed. Eating more regularly throughout the day, starting in the morning, may prevent overeating at night and may decrease your calorie intake overall.

Many people don’t like traditional “breakfast” foods. Not a problem. Any food eaten in the morning counts as breakfast.  Your A.M. meal just needs to be balanced and nutritious and include enough protein, found in foods such as dairy, eggs, and beans.

You don’t have to eat breakfast all at once. It’s OK to divide up the morning into two smaller meals.

Switch to whole grains

I  wrote about a study that showed swapping whole grains for the refined kind burns calories and boosts metabolism.  What a gift! You eat delicious whole grains, and you burn calories!

This No-Added Sugar Fruit and Nut Quick Bread is packed with whole grains and nuts. Get the recipe here.

It’s easier than you think to include more whole grains in your eating plan.

For example, instead of white bread, have whole grain. Enjoy oatmeal for breakfast in place of a highly refined cereal. Experiment with whole grains such as freekeh or farro. Munch on popcorn instead of chips.

Include nuts for better health

Studies show that nuts often have fewer calories than what’s on the Nutrient Facts label.  That’s good reason to include them as snacks, and in other ways.

Research has found that whole roasted almonds have 25% fewer calories than what is listed on food labels; walnuts supply 21% fewer calories; and pistachios also contain fewer calories than what the label says.  It stands to reason the same goes for peanuts, too.

Skip the chips, cookies, and candy. Reach for delicious and nutritious nuts!

One ounce of nuts is an excellent substitution for the same amount of snack chips, pretzels, or crackers.

In addition to having fewer calories, nuts provide protein, heart-healthy fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.  Phytonutrients are powerful plant compounds that protect your cells.

Include nuts in salads, homemade trail mix, and in smoothies.

Bottom line: No-diet loss tips for weight loss

Simple changes can help you to lose weight and keep it off.  Making a few small tweaks to your eating plan promotes eating satisfaction. In addition, including more healthy food choices in your diet provides you with the nutrients you need to support health.

No Added Sugar Fruit and Nut Bread

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No Added Sugar Fruit and Nut Bread 

Baking without sugar and gluten

I love to bake, but the last thing I need is more sugar in my life. Sugary foods are my downfall, especially muffins, quick breads, and other baked goods that are often as sweet as cake! This no-added sugar fruit and nut bread satisfies my sweet tooth. What’s more, it’s perfect for nutritious meals and snacks, especially if you’re following a no added sugar diet.

Baking with ripe bananas is a great way to cut down on added sugar without sacrificing great taste. I use raisins to provide even more natural sweetness so there’s no need for sugar, honey, or other sweeteners. And, almonds and walnuts supply protein, heart-healthy fat, fiber, and some serious crunch!

Why carbohydrates are important

I don’t have a problem with gluten, but I know others may. I use oat flour, which is really easy to make at home, instead of wheat flour in this recipe. As a result, this moist and delicious gluten-free bread is packed with whole grain goodness.

The beauty of this bread is that it’s flexible. You can mix and match the types of nuts and dried fruits you use in any combination. And, you can make 12 muffins out of the batter instead of a single loaf of bread.

There are so many ways to enjoy a slice of this tasty quick bread. For instance, top a slice with peanut butter, almond butter, or cottage cheese. Pair a slice with an egg or two or a carton of Greek yogurt for a quick meal or snack. Add a piece of fruit for a balanced meal or snack.

I hope you enjoy this bread as much as we do in our house!

No Added Sugar Fruit and Nut Bread

This gluten-free quick bread gets its sweetness from ripe bananas and dried fruit – no added sugar required! 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Resting Time15 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: banana, glutenfree, no added sugar, quickbread
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 253kcal
Author: ewardrd

Ingredients

  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups oat flour*
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened dried apricots, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries**

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350˚F. 
    Coat a 1 ½-quart loaf pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
    In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas until no longer chunky. Using a whisk, add the eggs and canola oil and combine well. Add the oat flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.
    Add almonds, walnuts, apricots, and raisins, and blend well.
    Pour the batter into the loaf pan and spread it evenly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
    Cool for 15-20 minutes out of the pan before cutting.
    * To make oat flour, place 2 cups of gluten-free one-minute or old fashioned oats in a food processor and process on high speed until oats achieve a powder-like consistency, about 1 minute.
    ** Most dried sweetened cranberries have some added sugar.

Calories: 253, Total fat: 14 grams, Saturated fat: 1 gram, Cholesterol: 35 milligrams, Sodium: 135 milligrams, Carbohydrate: 29 grams, Dietary fiber: 4 grams, Protein: 6 grams, Calcium: 64 milligrams, Iron: 2 milligrams


    8 Easy to Make, Better Than Store-bought Foods

    There are a few everyday foods I don’t buy anymore, including cranberry sauce, salad dressing, and almond butter, because they are easy to make at home, and they taste better.  On the flip side, there are several so-called convenience foods I can’t do without. I asked a few of my foodie friends about the foods they absolutely must make from scratch (and for the recipes!), as well as their “processed food” picks that get healthy meals on the table fast.

    Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN, Nutritioulicious

    Must-have homemade food: Peanut sauce

    Why: “Most packaged peanut sauces are really high in sodium and sugar, so I’d rather make my own using natural, unsweetened peanut butter and adding my own amount of sweetener. I also add other flavor boosters like freshly grated ginger and sriracha, which packaged peanut sauces don’t have. Give it a whirl in the blender or food processor and it’s easy as can be!”

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    Favorite convenience food: Canned beans

    Why: “I love adding beans to salads, pasta dishes, sauces, and grain side dishes, but I would not use them as frequently as I do if I had to soak and cook them on my own. Time is of the essence when I’m trying to get dinner on the table in my house! A lot of people are hesitant to buy canned beans because of the sodium content, so I recommend buying the no-salt-added canned beans if you can find them and always drain and rinse the beans before adding to a dish.”

    Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RDN, JaniceCooks

    Must-have homemade food: Sweet and Hearty Beef Stew

    Why: “It tastes better than the canned kind, and it’s better for you. My beef stew has half the sodium, twice the protein, and four times the fiber and vitamin A as the canned variety. It takes just minutes to toss the ingredients into the slow cooker and a hearty, tasty dinner is ready to serve a few hours later.”

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    Favorite convenience food: Canned pumpkin.

    Why: “I tried cooking and mashing fresh pumpkin once and decided that it would be the last time. Canned pure pumpkin is so convenient and nutritious that I stock up every fall to be sure I can use it year round. I use it in muffins, pancakes, smoothies, even chili  and enchiladas! ”

    Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, Nutrition Starring You

    Must-have homemade food: Vegan ice cream

    Why: “I don’t like the taste of store-bought vegan ice cream. It’s always high in added sugar and not nearly as high in protein as my version.”

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    Favorite convenience food: Bagged salad.

    Why: “I couldn’t live without pre-washed greens, especially the cabbage blends because they are super filling and don’t get soggy so you can enjoy them for several meals. (Close second: rotisserie chicken for fast, easy lunches and dinners.)”

    Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, Real Mom Nutrition

    Must-have homemade food: Salad dressing

    Why: “Once I started making my own salad dressing, it was impossible to go back to the gloppy bottled kind–especially the ones with preservatives and artificial dyes.”

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    (Need more salad dressing ideas? Here’s 50 of them.)

    Favorite convenience food: Jarred pasta sauce

    Why: “You can’t beat the convenience of it, and jarred sauce plus frozen ravioli is a last resort meal that saves us from ordering pizza or getting other take-out food. Pair that combination with prewashed greens and dinner is ready in 15 minutes!”

    Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, Amy Gorin Nutrition

    Must-have homemade food: Almond Pistachio Cocoa Bites

    Why: “Unlike a lot of store-bought versions of energy bites, balls, and bars, my recipe contains no added sugar. Plus, they’re delicious!”

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    Favorite convenience food: Frozen fruit

    Why: “Unsweetened frozen fruit is great for when I don’t have fresh in the house. It’s also sometimes preferable. When I use it in smoothies, I don’t need to add ice. And when I heat it up and use it as a topping for a bowl of oatmeal or French toast, it creates a nice liquid that can replace other toppings like syrup or brown sugar.”

    Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RD, Shaw’s Simple Swaps

    Must-have homemade food: Jam

    Why: “I love to make homemade jam not only because I can control the added sugar content, but also because I load it with wholesome, nutrient-rich ingredients, like omega-3 chia seeds, fiber-filled figs and other seasonal fresh fruit. The possibilities are endless!”

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    Favorite convenience food: Whole grain bread

    Why: “I can’t live without whole grain bread! Sure, I can make my own, but there’s nothing like a nice, fresh loaf of 100% whole grain bread with seeds from the store that you can simply take out of the bag and place in the toaster for a quick avocado toast lunch!”

    Katie Sullivan Morford, MS, RD, Mom’s Kitchen Handbook

    Must-have homemade food: Chocolate syrup

    Why: “This beautifully glossy chocolate syrup is a tasty alternative to what you’ll find in the supermarket, products that often have artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup, and mystery ingredients.”

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    Favorite convenience food: Frozen fruits and vegetables (among so many others!).

    Why: “A bag of frozen spinach within reach is a quick way to up the health benefits of everything from stews to smoothies, and frozen spinach is great in smoothies along with frozen fruit. The nutrient values of frozen fruits and vegetables stay largely intact when produce is put under the deep freeze.”

    Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RDN 

    Must-have homemade food: Granola

    Why: “Most store-bought granola is loaded with added sugar and fat. My version has sugar and fat, too, but the fat is the heart-healthy unsaturated kind from nuts, and I add just enough pure maple syrup for a touch of sweetness. Allspice or Chinese five spice powder provides added sweetness without sugar. For variety, I add 1/4 cup dried wild blueberries or unsweetened coconut during the last few minutes of baking. Add whatever you like to make it your own recipe.”

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    3 ½ cups old fashioned oats
    2 cups finely chopped nuts of your choice (I love to mix pistachios, almonds, walnuts and pecans)
    ¼ cup sunflower seeds
    ½ cup pure maple syrup
    Pinch of salt
    1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder

    Preheat oven to 325˚F. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients, stirring well to combine.
    Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

    Transfer the granola to the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 30-40 minutes, turning once, or until golden brown. Higher heat burns the nuts.

    Favorite convenience food: Canned petite diced tomatoes.

    Why: “These little gems are the perfect addition to so many recipes. They add color, flavor, texture, fiber, and other nutrients. I put them in egg dishes, soups, sauces, stews, guacamole, chili, salsa, spaghetti sauce and anything with a red sauce. You can purchase them fire-roasted, with herbs and spices, and with no added salt.”

    Better-for-You Chocolate Holiday Treats

    I eat dark chocolate nearly every day, and especially during the holidays. Combining chocolate with fruit and nuts satisfies my cravings and improves nutrition. My friends and family seem to like the pairings, too.  They’re always so appreciative when I make these super simple, better-for-you treats as holiday gifts and for when I entertain.

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    How to make healthier holiday treats

    There’s no formal recipe for my healthier holiday treats. For each batch, melt 10 ounces of dark chocolate (I use dark chocolate chips)  in a double boiler. You can also melt the chocolate in the microwave. Use a large glass bowl to make room for the other ingredients.dsc_0460

    When the chocolate has melted, add 2 cups whole or chopped nuts, dried fruit, shredded coconut, or a combination directly to the double boiler, mix thoroughly, and drop by large tablespoons onto waxed paper.

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    Top with festive sprinkles, if desired! fullsizeoutput_a79

    My latest obsession is macadamia nuts, dried cranberries, and white chocolate. Yum!

    fullsizeoutput_1e21

    I prepare several batches of treats with a variety of ingredients.dsc_0050

    When I need to be mindful of nut allergy, I make the dried fruit treats first and package them up so that they don’t come into contact with nuts. These are a raisin and coconut combo:

    DSC_0048-2

    For the apricots or other whole fruit, dip them into the chocolate half way.

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    Allow the treats to set for about 2 to 3 hours before packaging.

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    Would it be better to forgo the chocolate and eat plain nuts and dried fruit? Yes, that would be perfect, but not nearly as much fun.  And I think my friends and family would be disappointed!

    Happy holidays!

     

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