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Vegetarian Loaded Sweet Potato

It’s no secret that we grew up in a healthy, veggie-centric household.  Sweet potatoes were a veggie that our mom served us on the reg, typically as a carb to many of our meals on a winter evening.  We always loved the creaminess of the potato, it felt like a real comfort food– and the sweetness helped us to curb our wicked sweet tooth.  Now, as registered dietitians, we’re always creating new, healthy recipes that feature our orange fleshed lover, the sweet potato.  This baby packs in 21.5 grams of satisfying protein and 15 grams of fiber for the ultimate satisfaction!

A few more of our faves:

Sweet Potato Nachos

Roasted Tarragon Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet Potato Chips with Sea Salt & Chocolate Drizzle

Sweet Potato and Carrot Mash

and…

Mexican Sweet Potato Salad, Cherry & Pistachio Sweet Potato Medley  and our Sweeeeeeeet! Potato Pie

 

Vegetarian Loaded Sweet Potato -so satisfying with 21.5 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber!

Other than the fact that there is something so satisfying about a creamy, fiber filled sweet potato, there are so many benefits! Check them out below!

Sweeeeet potato!  This sweet potato may be loaded with delish goodies, but the sweet potato itself is packed with mega benefits including:

  • Two very potent antioxidants– carotenoids (including beta carotene) and sporamins, which fight everything from the negative health consequences that come with aging to almost all types of disease.
  • Fighting inflammation: Eat a sweet potato and research shows that inflammation in the body immediately decreases, especially in the brain and nerve tissues throughout the body.

Vegetarian Loaded Sweet Potato

 

Vegetarian Loaded Sweet Potato

Serves 1

Ingredients
1 small sweet potato (about 4.5 oz)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped kale
1/2 cup chopped broccoli
1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons low fat or fat free mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt

Directions:
1.Microwave or bake the sweet potato until tender. While it is cooking, prepare the filling.
2.Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat with a spritz of olive oil in a spray bottle. Add the onion, bell peppers, kale, and broccoli and sauté until tender, about 6-7 minutes.
3.Add the black beans, turmeric, and cumin, and cook until heated through.
4.Cut the sweet potato in half lengthwise and split open. Mound the filling onto the sweet potato (there is a lot of filling – it will not all fit tucked into the sweet potato, but that’s okay!)
5.Sprinkle the cheese on top of the filling, then microwave or bake the whole thing until the cheese is melted.
6.Dollop the Greek yogurt on top and serve.

Nutrition facts:  344 calories, 1 gram fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 187 mg sodium, 65 grams carbs, 15 grams fiber, 21.5 grams protein

 

Hummus Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers

We’re always up for a challenge—and especially when it comes to anything physical—or anything in the kitchen.  (If you saw us on the Food Network’s show Chopped, you know we mean business! 😉 ) Thankfully, in our family, we’re not short on either kind of challenge.  This time, Tammy’s husband requested healthy jalapeno poppers for the upcoming big Super Bowl game–but realizing that wasn’t so much of a challenge– he knew that these twin sister registered dietitians wouldn’t serve anything less than healthy 😉 , so he upped the ante.  He also requested them to be sweet, crunchy, creamy and spicy (he LOVES spicy!) — so we put our chef hats on.  Game on!  We created these Hummus Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers– and they take it two steps further– not only are they waistline friendly, they’re little healthy powerhouses– packed with nutrients, antioxidants and health benefits galore. 🙂

 

Psst… want more jalapeno poppers?  Try our Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers.

If you think that just because we’re registered dietitians we don’t love creamy, crunchy, sweet & spicy comfort food, you’ve got the wrong girls!  😉 In fact, many of you probably know from reading our blog that we love sweets!  And, let’s face it,  of course who doesn’t love creamy and crunchy food–so the request for these poppers is so up our alley! And we love spicy food too.  Ever since we were little girls and our dad lovingly teased us and said that eating spicy food made you stronger and more “manly” (yep, we were tomboys and daddy’s little girls –and being like him–and more “manly” was strangely quite attractive to us in those days!), we were sold! We’d load our food with hot red pepper flakes, and enjoy every bite of it!

 

 

These poppers are perfect for enjoying while tailgating or serving as a healthy appetizer before a party, they’re the ideal healthy comfort food! Filled with hummus, tomatoes, California prunes, and feta cheese and walnuts, you can get your appetizer fix without getting all that extra fat and calories—and at 50 calories a serving, you really can’t go wrong.

(Psst… looking for more lightened up recipes? Please feel free to search this site! And here are a few to try…
Skinny Potato Skins
Skinny Mash
Comfort Food Reinvented Apple Pie
Microwave Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies )

Aside from tantalizing your taste buds, here are a few other reasons you can feel good about eating these lil’ bursts of yum!   They’re truly nutrient powerhouses!

 

 

They’re meat-free and packed with flavor, so they’re perfect if you’re serving vegetarian guests or trying to cut back on meat and fearful that you have to cut out all the flavorful stuff!

 

Chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans)/ all pulses: these reside in our apartments year-round and are a great source of protein and fiber and can help lower your cholesterol.

• All pulses (the delicious, protein-packed, sustainable foods you know as dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas), contain both fiber & protein: If you’ve spent any time on our blog, you know that this magical combination helps to keep you satisfied, keep your energy on an even keel and keep your blood sugar level stable.

  • If you’ve ever tried black bean humus, that works great in these poppers too!

• Pssst….fun fact: 2016 was declared International Year of Pulses (IYP) by the United Nations.

• Research show that pulses (like chickpeas), aid in weight loss even when calories aren’t restricted. Check out this 2016 study, that found that it was just 3/4 cup of pulses per day that worked!

 

Prunes (We used California prunes because we find them to be the sweetest and juiciest):

Our mom kept always kept a jar of stewed prunes in the fridge when we we’re growing up and anytime we were craving something sweet, we’d reach for them.  They were the best way to bust a sugar craving!  Who knew we were also getting these benefits:

  • Research shows that eating 5-6 prunes a day may help support healthy bones and help maintain good digestive health
  • Prunes are packed with antioxidants called polyphenols, which help keep many parts of your body healthy– ranging from your heart to your eyes to your memory and your immune system.

 

Tomatoes: 

  • Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, which not only helps to fight cancer, but also keeps your skin youthful by acting as a natural sunblock.

 

Walnuts:

  • Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids: most of us don’t get enough omega- 3’s in our life and need more because they help lower the risk of heart disease, depression, dementia, and arthritis and they help contribute to, gorgeous, moisturized skin!

 

Hummus Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers

Makes 8 Servings (16 poppers)

Ingredients: 

For Hummus (Note: If you don’t have time to make hummus from scratch, choose your favorite store bought variety):

1 can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained (19 0z)

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp red pepper

1/4 cup water

1 lemon

(Use about half of the hummus for the stuffed jalapenos and save the rest!)

Jalapeno:

8 Jalapenos, sliced in half, seeds removed (we suggest using gloves if jalapenos typically burn your skin)

Oil in a spray container (we used avocado oil)

5-6 grape tomatoes, finely chopped

1/8 cup feta cheese

5-6 California prunes, finely chopped (we munched on the extras)

2 tsp. chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Line baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper* (using tin foil will give you a crunchier jalapeno, but after cooking with it for years, we’ve been avoiding doing so to lower our exposure to aluminum). Spray lightly with oil in spray jar.
  3. Place jalapenos sliced side down on parchment paper (or tin foil) and very lightly spray/ mist with oil.  Bake 10 minutes. Then remove and put on parchment paper.
  4. Meanwhile, while the jalapenos are cooking, add the beans, garlic, cayenne pepper, red pepper, and water to a food processor and blend. Cut the lemon in half, and squeeze the juice of each half into the food processor.
  5. Mix the ingredients together until smooth.
  6. Place the hummus in a Ziploc baggie, clip a corner and use that to pipe the hummus into the cooled jalapeños.. (Alternatively, use a small spoon to stuff the hummus in the peppers.)
  7. Fill each jalapeno shell completely with hummus and top with prunes, tomatoes, walnuts and feta! Enjoy!

 

*We prefer using unbleached parchment paper over aluminum foil due to possible health concern that foil use might contribute to the buildup of aluminum found in the brains of some Alzheimer’s patient as well as contribute to osteoporosis—and our family is no stranger to either of these diseases, so we prefer not to take chances!

Nutrition Information per serving (2 poppers):

50 Calories; 8 g carbohydrate; 1.5 g fat; 3 g protein; 115 mg sodium: 3 g sugar; 2 .5 g fiber

Hummus Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers
 
Author:
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • Makes 8 Servings (16 poppers)
  • Ingredients:
  • For Hummus (Note: If you don't have time to make hummus from scratch, choose your favorite store bought variety):
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained (19 0z)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp red pepper
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 lemon
  • (Use about half of the hummus for the stuffed jalapenos and save the rest!)
  • Jalapeno:
  • 8 Jalapenos, sliced in half, seeds removed (we suggest using gloves if jalapenos typically burn your skin)
  • Oil in a spray container (we used avocado oil)
  • 5-6 grape tomatoes, finely chopped
  • ⅛ cup feta cheese
  • 5-6 California prunes, finely chopped (we munched on the extras)
  • 2 tsp. chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Directions:
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. Line baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper* (using tin foil will give you a crunchier jalapeno, but after cooking with it for years, we’ve been avoiding doing so to lower our exposure to aluminum). Spray lightly with oil in spray jar.
  4. Place jalapenos sliced side down on parchment paper (or tin foil) and very lightly spray/ mist with oil. Bake 10 minutes. Then remove and put on parchment paper.
  5. Meanwhile, while the jalapenos are cooking, add the beans, garlic, cayenne pepper, red pepper, and water to a food processor and blend. Cut the lemon in half, and squeeze the juice of each half into the food processor.
  6. Mix the ingredients together until smooth.
  7. Place the hummus in a Ziploc baggie, clip a corner and use that to pipe the hummus into the cooled jalapeños.. (Alternatively, use a small spoon to stuff the hummus in the peppers.)
  8. Fill each jalapeno shell completely with hummus and top with prunes, tomatoes, walnuts and feta! Enjoy!
  9. *We prefer using unbleached parchment paper over aluminum foil due to possible health concern that foil use might contribute to the buildup of aluminum found in the brains of some Alzheimer's patient as well as contribute to osteoporosis—and our family is no stranger to either of these diseases, so we prefer not to take chances!
  10. Nutrition Information per serving (2 poppers):
  11. Calories; 8 g carbohydrate; 1.5 g fat; 3 g protein; 115 mg sodium: 3 g sugar; 2 .5 g fiber
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 Poppers Calories: 50 calories Fat: 1.5 g Carbohydrates: 8 g Sodium: 115 mg Fiber: 2.5 g Protein: 3 g

 

 

 

Power Protein & Berry Antioxidant Slimdown Smoothie

The combination of the antioxidant-rich California prunes, strawberries and blackberries pack a fiber-punch while making this smoothie delightfully sweet and refreshing. The California prunes are a sweet, convenient way to include polyphenols, antioxidants in the diet that can help protect the body against heart, eye, memory, and immune system issues. Plus, research suggests eating 5-6 prunes a day may support healthy bones! The unexpected superstar weight loss ingredient is the protein-packed pea protein, as like all pulses, can aid in weight loss even when calories aren’t restricted; it was also found to be more effective than whey protein at fighting against hunger.

 

When you sip, you’ll reap rewards…

Here’s why pea protein rocks—and why it’s so great in your smoothie!  (Hint: It’s a pulse!)

It contains both fiber & protein: If you’ve spent any time on our blog, you know that the magical combination for weight loss is a meal that contains both protein and fiber, to keep you satisfied, your energy on an even keel and keep your blood sugar level stable.

o Power to Pulses! Not many foods contain both protein and fiber, and peas, like all pulses (the delicious, protein-packed, sustainable foods you know as dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas) contain this weight loss friendly combo!

• Pssst….fun fact: In 2016 Pulses were named International Year of Pulses (IYP) by the United Nations.

Research show that pulses (like pea protein), aid in weight loss even when calories aren’t restricted. Check out this 2016 study1, that found that it was just 3/4 cup of pulses per day that worked!

 

California Prune Benefits (we use California prunes because they are super sweet and we grew up loving them. 🙂 )

If you’re allergic to dairy, lactose intolerant or avoid dairy, meet your bone-building bestie! 🙂

  • Research suggests that eating 5-6 prunes a day may help support healthy bones! So cool, we know!Why? Prunes have copper which aids in bone structure, boron and a handful of polyphenols that help with the regulation of bone building and bone breakdown. 1
  • They’ve got Vitamin K which helps to improve calcium balance and promotes bone mineralization.A 40g serving (about 5 prunes) is an excellent source of Vitamin K, providing 30% of the Daily Value.Research is continuing on the effect of California prunes on bone health and they’re finding good stuff, healthy people… more good news to come!
  • Hello Polyphenols! California prunes pack polyphenols in their purple bodies, which acts as antioxidants  to protect your body–keeping watch over your heart, eyes, memory and immune system.
  • Plus, let’s not forget our antioxidant- rich friends are great for a flat-belly!   Feeling a little heavy and constipated? Help relieve your tummy and flush out some of that waste and bloat!   A serving of prunes (4-5 prunes) has 3 grams of fiber and 100 calories–and seem to do wonders when you need a little tummy relief!

 

Power Protein & Berry Antioxidant Slimdown Smoothie

Servings: 1 serving = 16 ounces

Ingredients:
• 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
• 1/2 frozen banana
• 1/3 cup frozen strawberries
• 1/4 cup frozen blackberries
• 2 California prunes (we use California prunes because they are super sweet and we grew up loving them)
• 1 scoop (27 grams) pea protein (We used Garden of Life’s Organic Raw Protein & Greens)

Directions:
1. Blend ingredients and enjoy!

Nutrition facts per 16 ounce smoothie:

256 Calories, 35 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat, 23 g protein, 0 g saturated fat, 10 g fiber

As you happily sip this Pea Protein Weight Loss smoothie, sip on this (more research supporting pulses, berries & weight loss…and California Prune benefits) below:

 

Super Berry Protein & Antioxidant Smoothie
 
Nutrition facts per 16 ounce smoothie: 256 Calories, 35 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat, 23 g protein, 0 g saturated fat, 10 g fiber
Author:
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • • ½ frozen banana
  • • ⅓ cup frozen strawberries
  • • ¼ cup frozen blackberries
  • • 2 California prunes
  • • 1 scoop (27 grams) pea protein (We used Garden of Life’s Organic Raw Protein & Greens)
Instructions
  1. Blend ingredients and enjoy!

 

 

References:

Prunes:
1. Shahnazari M, et al. Dietary dried plum increases bone mass, suppresses proinflammatory cytokines and promotes attainment or peak bone mass in male mice: J Nutr Biochem. 2016;34:73-82.
Schreurs AS, et al. Dried plum diet protects form bone loss caused by ionizing radiation. Sci. Rep. 2016;6: 21343; doi: 10.1038/srep21343.

Hooshmand S, et al. The effect of two doses of dried plum on bone density and bone biomarkers in osteopenic postmenopausal women: a randomized, controlled trial. Osteoporosis International. 2016;27(7): 2271-2279.

Arjmandi BH, et al. Dried plum consumption and bone mineral density retention in postmenopausal women: a follow-up study. The FASEB Journal. 2016;30:1, Supplement lb268.

Hooshmand S, et al. The effect of dried plum on serum levels of receptor activator of NF-kB ligand, osteoprotegerin and sclerostin in osteopenic postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition. 2014;112:55-60.

Rendina E, et al. Dried plum’s unique capacity to reverse bone loss and alter bone metabolism in postmenopausal osteoporosis model. PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e60569.

Hooshmand S, et al. Comparative effects of dried plum and dried apple on bone in postmenopausal women. British Journal of Nutrition. 2011;106(6);923-930.

Halloran BP, et al. Dietary dried plum increases bone mass in adult and aged male mice. Journal of Nutrition. 2010;140:1781-1787.

Hooshmand S, et al. Viewpoint: dried plum an emerging functional food that may effectively improve bone health. Ageing Research Reviews. 2009;8:122-7.

2. Seidel DV, et al. Dried plums modify fecal short chain fatty acid concentrations and gene expression in a rat model of colon carcinogenesis. The FASEB Journal. 2016;30(1Supplement):147.3.

Attaluri A, et al. Randomized clinical trial: dried plums (prunes) vs. psyllium for constipation. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2011;33:822-828.

Seidel D, et al. Dried plums modify colon microbiota composition and spatial distribution, and protect against chemically induced carcinogenesis. The FASEB Journal. 2015;29(1 Supplement):394.7.

Pulses and berries in Weight loss:

o A study published in Nutrition Journal found that pea protein was more effective at staving off hunger than whey protein; improved satiety can potentially lead to weight loss. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3295702/

1 Kim SJ, de Souza RJ, Choo VL et al. Effects of dietary pulse consumption on body weight: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27030531

C3G in berries may help with weight loss– check this out!:

11. Tsuda T., Horio F., Uchida K., Aoki H., Osawa T. Dietary cyanidin 3-O-beta-d-glucoside-rich purple corn color prevents obesity and ameliorates hyperglycemia in mice. J. Nutr. 2003;133:2125–2130. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12840166
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4931534/

photo courtesy of pulses.org

 

Black Bean Patties

  Black Bean Patties

 Black_bean_cakes_LOGO

 

…aka Black Bean Love Cakes. 🙂 That’s right, we’re in love with these lil’ cakes and can’t wait for you to fall head over taste bud after them too. We’re not quite sure why it is that eating food in the shape of a patty or a muffin just makes it that much more fun. But it does—and when we were growing up when our mom would make her Black Bean patties, we loved eating the little cakes—and we loved our contribution to helping her make them—shaping them into the patties, even as small kids we remember loving this assignment she’s give us. And now we’ve cooked up a tasty and super-satisfying Black Bean Patty version, inspired by our mom’s!

Psst… looking for a few more recipes inspired by our wholesome, cook-it-from-scratch mom? Check these out!

One-Pot Quinoa Chickpea & Avocado Bowl

Coconut Quinoa Chicken Nuggets

One-Pot Black Bean Quinoa Chili with Avocado

Quinoa Breakfast Nibbles

Choco-nilla Oats & Quinoa Swirl

blackbean3

If you’re looking to have a few more meals that are great for Meatless Monday, this patty will hook you up. This clean and delicious alternative to a greasy burger leaves you fully fueled and satisfied, and provides an excellent sources of fiber to stabilize your blood sugar and nutrients like magnesium and potassium to help to relax your muscles and lower your blood pressure. You can top these patties with avocado and salsa for a Mexican twist, or eat them on a whole grain bun for more of a hands-on burger feel! Pair them up with a nice salad or steamed veggies and if you eat it bun-less, add some healthy carbs like these Roasted Tarragon Sweet Potato Fries. Grab a plate, and a patty and dig in! 😉

 

 

 

blackbean5Black Bean Patties (aka Black Bean Love Cakes 😉 ):

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

 

  • 15oz black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ cup cooked brown rice

 

  • ½ cup corn
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 4 ounce low fat swiss cheese, for melting on top

 

Directions

  1. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large soup pot.
  2. Saute the onion, bell pepper and garlic in the olive oil, until translucent.
  3. cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper and stir to mix thoroughly.Cook for 2 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  4. Add beans and rice, cooking for five more minutes over medium , stirring frequently.
  5. Remove pot from heat and empty rice and bean mixture into a bowl, stir in the corn, and let cool.
  6. Once cooled, add cilantro and mash the contents of the bowl until a near paste-like consistency is made.
  7. Divide into four portions and shape into a patty. Refrigerate patties for 15 minutes.
  8. Add 1 tsp olive oil to saute pan and heat over medium heat.
  9. Place each patty on the pan, and cook 4-5 minutes on each side until both sides have browned and place slice of cheese on top each patty and allow to melt.

 

Nutrition Information per serving (1 patty): 196 Calories, 5g Fat, 14g Protein, 21g Carbohydrates, 267mg Sodium, 7.5g Fiber

Black Bean Patties
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 15oz black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ cup cooked brown rice
  • ½ cup corn
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • 4 oz low fat swiss cheese, for melting on top
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large soup pot.
  2. Saute the onion, bell pepper and garlic in the olive oil, until translucent.
  3. cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper and stir to mix thoroughly.Cook for 2 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  4. Add beans and rice, cooking for five more minutes over medium , stirring frequently.
  5. Remove pot from heat and empty rice and bean mixture into a bowl, stir in the corn, and let cool.
  6. Once cooled, add cilantro and mash the contents of the bowl until a near paste-like consistency is made.
  7. Divide into four portions and shape into a patty. Refrigerate patties for 15 minutes.
  8. Add 1 tsp olive oil to saute pan and heat over medium heat.
  9. Place each patty on the pan, and cook 4-5 minutes on each side until both sides have browned and place slice of cheese on top each patty and allow to melt.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 patties Calories: 196 Fat: 5 g Carbohydrates: 21 g Sodium: 267 mg Fiber: 7.5 g Protein: 14 g

Black_Bean_Patties3_collage

Chickpea Blondies (Gluten-free, grain-free)

We often describe our parents, who raised us in a loving, healthy, cook-it-from-scratch, granola-making, wholesome home, as being basically hippies, minus the drugs. 😉 Long before it was considered cool to eat and buy locally grown food or to belong to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), our mom was all over it.  Before people were avoiding pesticides, our mom was on the case.  And when the current plant-based movement didn’t even exist and before it was considered cool to worry about sustainability, and saving the planet, our mom was serving us yummy spaghetti and lentil-“meatballs”– and bean “burgers” and vegetarian split pea soup had a regular spot on the weekly dinner menu too.  Our mom was simply out to keep us—and the planet healthy.  And you could see it all over her granola and chickpea covered apron.  🙂

chickpea-blondies-peanutbutter-honey-darkchocolate-coconut-logo

Our mom was eating conscientiously before it was chic.  She didn’t realize that she was savvy and ahead of her time, creating most of our family meals out pulses–the delicious, protein-packed, sustainable foods you know as dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas—unaware that years later, 2016 would be named International Year of Pulses (IYP) by the United Nations.

Now, as registered dietitian nutritionists, the coolest thing for us is that everything is coming full circle since we grew up with pulses and already love them and toot their horn (couldn’t resist! 😉) and our mom had taught us what the UN is currently acknowledging about pulses.  We get to deliver the amazing message about pulses and encourage you to enjoy them more often and take the pulse pledge.

To take the pledge you’ll simply commit to eating pulses once a week for 10 weeks and join a global food movement!

Here’s why you’ll love it! Eating dry peas, lentils, beans and chickpeas helps reduce your carbon footprint – and it’s great for your health. Every 1/2 cup of cooked pulses delivers 9 grams of protein.

Pulses are:

  • nutritious (packed with protein, fiber, iron, potassium, antioxidants, and more!)
  • versatile and tasty (ummm… our yummy spaghetti and “meat”balls were made of lentils! our succulent “burgers” we made from beans—and just wait ‘till you check out the delectable sweet recipe below)
  • affordable (ah, yes….our mom didn’t let us forget that dad was a phD student with 3 kids to feed, so we were taught at an early age that pulses are one of the most cost effective proteins in the world)
  • sustainable (growing up, as proud owners of a “compost heap” in the wooded section of our suburban back yard, we were taught a thing or two about how pulses enrich the soil where they grow, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. Plus, they can grow in harsh environments and have a low carbon footprint and hardly require any irrigation (they’re water-efficient).

 

And just in case you we’re wondering what pulses do for our crazy sweet tooth that we work hard to keep in check—we’ve got this scrumptious golden nugget below.  It’s a throwback to the Blondies our mom used to bake. Only these are even healthier and tastier, if you can believe it! We can’t!  And the protein and the fiber in the pulses help to keep you satiated.  Regardless, it’s hard not to eat the whole batch…they’re that good!

 

chickpea_blondies_horizontal_logoChickpea Blondies

Makes 16 servings

Chickpea_blondies_ingredients_logoIngredients

1, 15-oz can chickpeas, also may be found as garbanzo beans

1/2 cup all natural peanut butter

1/3 cup honey

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips, plus 1 Tbsp, reserve for top

1 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes, reserve for sprinkling

Chickpea_blondies_tray_vertical_logo

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  1. Spritz an 8×8 pan with oil in a spray container.
  1. Rinse chickpeas and place in food processor. If using a blender, after rinsing chickpeas, remove their skin before placing in the blender by pinching the chick pea between your fingers. The skin will easily fall off and will take about five extra minutes and will ensure a very smooth blended product.
  1. Combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips and unsweetened coconut flakes in a food processor and blend until completely mixed.
  1. Fold in 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips.
  1. Spread batter evenly in pan, top with reserved 1 Tbsp of chocolate chips
  1. Bake for approximately 18 – 20 minutes. This will vary depending on your oven. You do not want to overcook these so check on them to see if they are ready sooner in your oven. They should be moist and a little brown around the edges. Insert a toothpick, if it comes out clean they are done. Cool pan on a wire rack until pan is cool to touch, sprinkle with unsweetened coconut flakes.
  1. Cut into squares. Makes 16 blondies
  1. Delicious immediately or cool in refrigerator for a delicious cold treat. If you prefer them to be more firm, simply allowing them to cool in the fridge.

 

Nutrition Facts Per 1 Serving: 123 Calories, 6 g Fat, 2 g Saturated Fat, 0 mg Cholesterol, 35 mg Sodium, 15 g Carbohydrate, 2 g Fiber, 8 g Sugar, 3 g Protein

 

The Nutrition Twins work with the Pulse Councils to help people to eat more healthfully and encourage them to take the Pulse Pledge.

Chickpea_Blondies_Collage

Chickpea Blondies (Vegan, gluten-free, grain-free)
 
Nutrition Facts Per 1 Serving: 123 Calories, 6 g Fat, 2 g Saturated Fat, 0 mg Cholesterol, 35 mg Sodium, 15 g Carbohydrate, 2 g Fiber, 8 g Sugar, 3 g Protein
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1, 15-oz can chickpeas, also may be found as garbanzo beans
  • ½ cup all natural peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup dark chocolate chips, plus 1 Tbsp, reserve for top
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes, reserve for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spritz an 8x8 pan with oil in a spray container.
  3. Rinse chickpeas and place in food processor. If using a blender, after rinsing chickpeas, remove their skin before placing in the blender by pinching the chick pea between your fingers. The skin will easily fall off and will take about five extra minutes and will ensure a very smooth blended product.
  4. Combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips and unsweetened coconut flakes in a food processor and blend until completely mixed.
  5. Fold in ⅓ cup dark chocolate chips.
  6. Spread batter evenly in pan, top with reserved 1 Tbsp of chocolate chips
  7. Bake for approximately 18 – 20 minutes. This will vary depending on your oven. You do not want to overcook these so check on them to see if they are ready sooner in your oven. They should be moist and a little brown around the edges. Insert a toothpick, if it comes out clean they are done. Cool pan on a wire rack until pan is cool to touch, sprinkle with unsweetened coconut flakes.
  8. Cut into squares. Makes 16 blondies
  9. Delicious immediately or cool in refrigerator for a delicious cold treat. If you prefer them to be more firm, simply allowing them to cool in the fridge.

Avocado & Lentil Vegan Tacos

As registered dietitians and personal trainers if there’s one thing that we’ve learned from our clients, it’s the same thing that life’s taught us, too –there’s nothing more valuable than having a few healthy, satisfying, weeknight meals that you can turn to that can be tossed together in less than 30 minutes.  Who’s got time to slave over the stove after a long day?  Not us–and not you! So we’ve got your watch, your healthy heart and little waist-line with this meal! 😉 We’ve been loving the satisfying combo of fiber and protein from lentils and we knew we had to test out this meal.  We weren’t disappointed–in fact, we fell tongue over lentil for it! 🙂  Give these tacos a whirl, you may just call these dinner –a few nights a week!

 

Avo_Lentil_Vegan_Taco_smcropLOG 

Easy—ready to eat in less than 30 minutes!

Hello Meatless Monday that’s so delish even meat lovers won’t miss the beef!

Pssst… if you’re serving these and looking for some sides or other dishes, you may enjoy these:

Skinny Avocado “Fries”

Egg & Veggie Stuffed Bread

Skinny Potato Skins

Sweet Potato Chips with Sea Salt & Dark Chocolate Drizzle

Skinny Guacamole

Skinny Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Chocolate Drizzled Granola Balls

Creamy Vanilla Coconut Coffee

Avo_Lentil_Vegan_Taco2_logoAvocado & Lentil Vegan Tacos

Get ready to dive into these yumsters–you’ll never look back–and you’ll never feel better! 😉

Make 4 servings
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
2½ cups pre-cooked lentils (we used Trader Joe’s Ready-to-Eat Steamed Lentils}
¼ cup water
8 whole grain corn tortillas, ideally organic or Non-GMO
1 avocado
1 large tomato

Directions:
1. Heat oil a large pan over medium-low heat. Once oil is warm, add cumin, chili powder and cayenne and stir until fragrant.
2. Add lentils and water and stir. Season with cracked pepper. Allow mixture to heat over low heat to simmer for several minutes until heated through.
3. Meanwhile slice avocado and tomato and place 2 tortillas on 4 plates.
4. Add salt to the lentil mixture if using, and stir in. Adding it last will help you to need less salt.
5. Add about ¼ cup of lentils in a row down the middle of each tortilla. Top with tomato and avocado. Flip the tortalla in half and serve, enjoy!

Nutrition Facts Per 2 Tacos: 405 Calories,  9 g fat, 61 g carbohydrate, 20 g protein, 500 mg sodium, 14 g fiber

Avocado & Lentil Vegan Tacos
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 2½ cups pre-cooked lentils (we used Trader Joe's Ready-to-Eat Steamed Lentils}
  • ¼ cup water
  • 8 whole grain corn tortillas, ideally organic or Non-GMO
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 large tomato
Instructions
  1. Directions:
  2. Heat oil a large pan over medium-low heat. Once oil is warm, add cumin, chili powder and cayenne and stir until fragrant.
  3. Add lentils and water and stir. Season with cracked pepper. Allow mixture to heat over low heat to simmer for several minutes until heated through.
  4. Meanwhile slice avocado and tomato and place 2 tortillas on 4 plates.
  5. Add salt to the lentil mixture if using, and stir in. Adding it last will help you to need less salt.
  6. Add about ¼ cup of lentils in a row down the middle of each tortilla. Top with tomato and avocado. Flip the tortalla in half and serve, enjoy!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 tacos Calories: 405 Fat: 9 g Carbohydrates: 61 g Sodium: 500 mg Fiber: 14 g Protein: 20 g

Avocado Lentil Tacos_collage