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    Archive for the ‘dates’ Category

    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Oil-Free Autumn Buckwheat Granola

    Buckwheat is technically a seed (and, despite its name, wheat & gluten-free)

    I love this granola for several reasons; it offers something different by not being oat-based, it doesn’t contain any added oils (gets all its healthful fats from whole foods), it’s a delectable combination of crunchy and chewy, and it captures all the flavors of autumn.  Enjoy!

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    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Allergy-Friendly Breakfast Pie (Wheat, Soy, Dairy, and Nut-Free!)

    goodmorningiu9You can have this pie whenever you please — day or night.  However, its fruity flavors are breakfast-ish to me.  And, while it is a pie, it is made of such healthful ingredients that you can start your day off quite nutritiously with a slice.

    Chock-full of fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, it makes minimally-nutritious morning pastries quiver in fear!

    YIELDS: One 8-slice pie


    For crust:

    3/4 cup raw almonds (see NOTES at bottom of post)
    3/4 cup raw walnuts (see NOTES at bottom of post)
    (NOTE: For nut-free version, you will need 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup hemp seeds, and 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds; see NOTES at bottom of post)
    2 Tablespoons unsweetened shredded dried coconut (optional)
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup pitted dates (any variety; I like Medjool)

    For filling:

    1.5 cups blueberries
    1.5 cups strawberries, sliced
    1 medium banana, sliced
    2 Tablespoons cup raisins
    1 scoop unsweetened whey or hemp protein powder (optional; see NOTES at bottom of post)
    1 Tablespoon water (if needed, to thin out)


    To make the crust, process the nuts/seeds, coconut (if using), vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in food processor into a finely ground powder.

    Add the pitted dates, 1/3 of a cup at a time, and process for 30 to 45 seconds at a time.

    Once all the dates have been added, you should have a solid “dough-like” product.  If it does not stick together, add a few more pitted dates and process again.

    Remove the “dough” from the food processor and press it into a 9 or 10-inch pie pan (preferably glass), forming a crust that goes up onto the sides of the pan.  Once done, place pie pan in freezer for 30 minutes.

    While crust freezes, make the filling, as detailed below.

    Rinse out the food processor and fill it with berries, the sliced banana, and the raisins.  Process for 45 to 60 seconds, or until completely smooth.  If needed, add up to 1 Tablespoon of water to make processing easier (careful, though, you don’t your filling to be watery!).

    Once filling is smooth (and has a creamy texture), remove crust from freezer and pour filling into pie pan.

    Refrigerate pie pan for at least 90 minutes.

    Once pie has been fully refrigerated, cut into eight uniform slices and enjoy!

    NUTRITION FACTS (for 1 slice, crust made with almonds and walnuts, filling without protein powder):

    245 calories
    1.5 grams saturated fat
    150 milligrams sodium
    5 grams fiber
    4 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: B vitamins (except B12), folate, magnesium, manganese, potassium, vitamin C, zinc

    Good Source of: Iron, monounsaturated fats, omega-3 ALA fatty acids, vitamin E, zinc


    1. For a simpler and less costly crust, you can definitely use one type of nut or seed.  I like using a combination in order to achieve more flavors, but that is completely up to you.  If using multiple nuts/seeds, feel free to experiment with different ratios, too.  You can also try ingredients not listed in this recipe (i.e.: Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, etc.)

    2. The extra scoop of whey or hemp protein in the filling provides an additional 2.5 grams of protein per slice, and thickens up the texture slightly.  I find that an unsweetened, vanilla-flavored type works best with the filling.

    3. Serving this for guests?  Top it off with whole fresh berries or sliced fruits of your choice!

    4. If you want to give the crust a hint of chocolate flavor, add one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder to the crust.  For a deep chocolate flavor, add two tablespoons.


    Quick & Healthy Recipe: W-O-W!

    almondsThe recipe below appears in Ani Phyo’s cookbook Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen.

    I usually do not post recipes from cookbooks, but this one is so delicious, nutritious, and easy to make that I must share it with you.

    Ani, who credits another chef as the inspiration/creator, calls these “raw vegan donut holes”, but I refer to them as “one of the most amazing things you can create in 15 minutes using a food processor and your hands.”

    These “rounds” make for a terrific snack or dessert.

    YIELDS: 20 pieces


    1 1/2 cup raw almonds
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract or vanilla powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup pitted dates, chopped (I prefer Medjool dates, which lend a caramel flavor)
    1/2 cup unsweetened dried pineapple, chopped
    1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
    1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, for rolling

    Note: Although not listed in Ani’s recipe, there are plenty of variations you can make.  Here are some of my suggestions:

    • Add some cinnamon to the food processor almond mix
    • For extra crunch, add raw buckwheat groats to the general mix
    • Replace the dried pineapple with dried apple
    • Add quick-cooking rolled oats to the general mix


    In a food processor, mix almonds, vanilla, and salt.

    Process until almonds have a finely chopped (as opposed to ground up) consistency.

    Transfer mixture to a large bowl (you will be mixing ingredients by hand in this bowl for approximately five minutes, so make sure it provides plenty of room)

    Add chopped dates, chopped pineapple, and 1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut to bowl.

    Mix all ingredients by hand until you get a dough-like texture (Hint: rinse your fingers under running water a few times to make this process easier)

    Rip off small chunks and make them into small ball/circular shapes by hand

    Roll in coconut.  Enjoy!

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (for 2 pieces):

    250 calories
    3.5 grams saturated fat
    240 milligrams sodium
    0 grams added sugar
    6 grams fiber
    6 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Fiber, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin E

    Good source of: Niacin, protein, riboflavin


    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Ridiculously Easy Pie Crust

    dates crustI always enjoy experimenting with new pie recipes (especially of the vegan variety), but find pie crust to be an often-times challenging obstacle.

    Most ready-to-use pie crust products on the market have horrid ingredient lists.

    If I choose to make my own at home, it’s either taking out the rolling pin I do not own, or mixing together crushed graham crackers with butter.

    Alas, this recipe not only makes a delicious pie crust in minutes, it’s also chock full of nutrients.

    Whenever I have served pies made with this crust in the past, the only comments I get are how delicious it is.  Busting the “health food tastes like cardboard” myth one dessert at a time!

    YIELDS: One 8 or 9 inch pie crust


    1 1/3 cups almonds
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup pitted dates


    Place almonds, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in blender and process until coarse texture is achieved.

    Add dates, process until all ingredients are evenly mixed.

    Press onto pie plate with fingers and chill for two or three hours.

    NUTRITION FACTS: (per 1/8 slice)

    215 calories
    1.2 grams saturated fat
    75 milligrams sodium
    4 grams fiber
    5 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Copper, magnesium, manganese, riboflavin, vitamin E

    Good Source of: fiber, potassium


    Made with Real Fruit. Really!

    018627431640Avid readers of Small Bites know how much I despise the “made with real fruit” scam so many processed foods love to advertise.

    In case you are not familiar with it, I am referring to items like fruit snacks or sugary cereals which boast about fruit on their ingredient list only to simply offer juice concentrates (think concentrated fruit sugar devoid of any nutrition).

    Alas, the folks at Kashi  mean what the say.

    Their new fruit & grain Tasty Little Chewies are advertised as being “made with real fruit” and, well, they’re not pulling a fast one on us!  The second ingredient, after all, is dates.  Not date juice,  not dehydrated date concentrate, but REAL dates.

    In fact, dates appear BEFORE chocolate on the ingredient list.  Knock me over with a flaxseed!

    These new bars are delicious, by the way.  I recently tried the Dark Chocolate Coconut flavor and am a fan.  I recommend adding it to your snack repertoire, particularly with this nutrition profile:

    • 120 calories
    • 1.5 grams saturated fat
    • 50 milligrams sodium (a mere 2% of the allotted maximum)
    • 4 grams fiber
    • 7 grams sugar (I am guessing only 4 grams are from added sugars)

    TLC indeed!


    You Ask, I Answer: Sugar/Fruit

    You often say that “sugar is sugar” when talking about calories from white sugar, brown sugar, or evaporated cane juice.

    But then you point out that a Lara bar is a healthy snack choice because it has no added sugar.

    They are made with dates, though, which have sugar.

    So if “sugar is sugar,” why don’t you say that a Lara bar is essentially the same thing as a Snickers?

    — Raymond (last name withheld)
    Brooklyn, NY

    The three sweeteners you mention in your first sentence are commonly referred to as “empty calories.”

    This means they contribute nothing but calories to our diets. There are no “redeeming qualities” to them. Not only do they not offer a single vitamin or mineral, they also don’t do anything in the way of satiety.

    That is precisely why 600-calories of soda don’t fill you up anywhere near as much as 600 calories of a meal containing some fat, protein, and fiber.

    (Slight tangent: a semi-exception can be made for pure maple syrup in the ‘mineral’ category, since a single tablespoon provides a third of the daily value of manganese.)

    In any case, snack bars made with dates — such as Lara — are different from bars that tack on extra calories via a sweetener.

    The dates in these bars contribute naturally-occurring sugars which co-exist with potassium, fiber, and many phytochemicals and antioxidants in that fruit.

    While brown sugar and white sugar are identical from a nutritional standpoint, those two sugars are nutritionally inferior to fresh or dry fruit.

    Hence, a Lara bar and a Snickers bar are worlds apart.

    The Snickers bar gets a large portion of its calories from sugar and certainly does not provide the same amount of potassium, fiber, or phytochemicals as its date-based counterpart.

    This is why I would love food labels to differentiate between naturally occurring versus added sugars.

    A Lara bar might seem to have almost as much sugar as a Snickers bar, but we are talking about two very different sources of sweetness.


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