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    Archive for the ‘oat bran’ Category

    Healthify Your Baked Goods!

    toolsI find that certain weekend mornings are practically tailor-made for a muffin-and-coffee breakfast.

    Sipping freshly brewed coffee and biting into homemade baked good on a cloudy autumn morning, watching the colorful foliage slowly float down from tree branches, is simultaneously comforting and delectable.

    While many commercial baked goods are nutrition horror cliches (copious amounts of white flour, sugar, and unhealthy fats), homemade varieties can get a nutritional boost in a variety of ways.

    These tips can be used when making muffins, brownies, and cookies:

    1) Go whole or go home

    Gone are the days when “whole grain baked goods” meant a dense, rubbery concoction akin to an E-Z Bake Oven creation.

    The key to making light and fluffy 100% whole grain baked goods is to utilize either whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat white flour.

    You can fully replace a recipe’s white flour with either of these varieties.

    Not only will the end result be higher in fiber, it will also contain more selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.

    2) Go alternative

    Alternative flours can be quite pricey, but they’re a lot more affordable if you make them yourself!

    Instead of purchasing oat flour (which, depending where you live, can be hard to track down), make your own by processing quick oats in a food processor.

    FYI: One and a half cups of quick cooking oats yields one cup of oat flour.

    Oat flour is high in soluble fiber (the kind that helps lower cholesterol and provides a feeling of fullness more quickly) and rich in phytonutrients.

    One other FYI: oat flour can only replace, at most, half of the wheat flour in a given recipe.

    Another favorite alternative flour of mine is almond meal.

    You can also make this at home by pulverizing raw almonds in a food processor or coffee grinder until they achieve a powdery consistency.

    Like oat flour, almond meal can replace up to half of the wheat flour in a given recipe.

    Like whole almonds, almond meal is a good source of fiber, protein, vitamin E, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

    You can even replace half a cup of flour in a recipe with half a cup of pure wheat germ for added fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

    3) Get saucy

    Unsweetened applesauce is a healthy baker’s ally.

    You can replace anywhere from one half to three quarters of the fat called for in a recipe with unsweetened applesauce and no one will be the wiser.

    The applesauce won’t disrupt flavors, but will add plenty of moisture to your baked goods.

    4) Sprinkle away

    Whenever I make pancake or muffin batter, I like to add two or three tablespoons of oat bran and ground flaxseeds.

    Not only do they impart a hearty and nutty flavor, they also add extra nutrition in a pinch.

    5) Sugar?  Think Beyond The White Stuff

    When it comes to sweetening, think natural first.

    Raisins, blueberries, bananas, and fresh pineapple add sweetness — and great flavor — to recipes while also delivering nutrition.

    In my experience, you can halve the added sugar (whether in the form of white sugar, brown sugar, agave nectar, maple syrup, etc.) in conventional recipes and still have a tasty baked good.

    When reducing sugar, make up for it by adding nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla, almond, and/or coconut extract to the batter.


    Out With The Old, In With The New

    Many moms and dads all over the United States know what the start of the school year means — packing a lunch for their children!

    So how do you pack an interesting and tasty lunch (which, for this posting’s sake, I will assume can not be heated in school)? Here are a few ideas.

    INSTEAD OF: Cutting a sandwich into two triangular pieces
    TRY: Shaped sandwiches

    Next time you make a sandwich, get your cookie cutter out. Forget the traditional diagonal slice and instead turn that square slice of bread into a star, a cat, or even a gingerbread man.

    PS: If your kids don’t dig whole wheat “brown” sandwiches, try a “halfie.”

    A sandwich made with one slice of 100% whole wheat bread and another of white bread still packs in 3 to 4 grams of fiber.

    INSTEAD OF: Packaged chips
    TRY: Making your own pita chips

    Here’s a kid-friendly way to boost a bagged lunch’s fiber content.

    Buy 100% whole wheat pitas and cut each one into eight small triangles. Brush a thin coating of extra virgin olive oil on them, sprinkle a little salt (and, for an extra kick, either some paprika, rosemary, or oregano), and toss them in the oven (350 Fahrenheit) for approximately 20 minutes.

    For a sweet twist, sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon of sugar (a mere 16 calories) over them.

    Make a big batch on Sunday afternoon for the rest of the week.

    INSTEAD OF: Sugary puddings
    TRY: A Super Smoothie

    In a blender, mix two of your child’s favorite fruits with 2% milk. Add a tablespoon of flaxseed, another of oat bran, mix, and pour into a thermos!

    These two ingredients add nutrition and texture to the smoothie but don’t affect the taste one bit.

    INSTEAD OF: Chocolate brownies or cookies
    TRY: A homemade choco-mix

    Mix a low-sugar, whole grain cereal (like Cheerios), a handful of mixed nuts, and a few chocolate chips or M&M candies into a small zip bag. This way, little bursts of chocolate are surrounded by fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals (as opposed to white flour, sugar, and unhealthy fats.)


    Summer Eatin’

    The latest video posted on the Small Bites YouTube channel offers tips and advice for a healthy and nutritious summer.

    Is mayo a microbiological bad guy? What’s a tasty and refreshing replacement for ice cream? Are you preparing your salad in such a way to ensure maximum absorption of nutrients?

    Find out more in this short video, where I also introduce you to a key player of the Small Bites team!


    Five Must-Have Foods

    The latest video on the Small Bites YouTube Channel singles out five must-have foods.

    Having these in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer will make healthy eating simple, quick, and convenient.

    This is not an end-all-be-all “five healthiest foods on the planet” or “five superfoods that reverse aging” list, but rather just one of many practical ways in which nutrition can have a place in your kitchen.


    Quick and Healthy Recipe: Whole Grain Pancakes

    I spotted a simple pancake recipe in the back of an Arrowhead Mills pancake and waffle mix I bought, threw the kitchen sink at it, and ended up making these delicious — and super healthy — pancakes!

    YIELDS: 4 Pancakes


    ¾ cup whole grain/multigrain pancake mix (i.e.: Arrowhead Mills)
    1 Tbsp. canola oil
    3/4 cup milk of choice (dairy, soy, rice, almond, etc.  I used unsweetened soy)
    1/3 cup chopped walnuts
    1 Tbsp. egg whites or egg replacer
    1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
    1 Tbsp. coconut extract
    3 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
    3 Tbsp. oat bran
    2 Tbsp. wheat germ
    1 Tbsp. cinnamon
    2 medium bananas, sliced
    1 cup strawberries, sliced


    1. Combine pancake mix, canola oil, milk, chopped walnuts, egg whites/egg replacer, vanilla extract, coconut extract, ground flaxseed, oat bran, and wheat germ in medium bowl.

    2. Stir lightly until ingredients are evenly mixed. The batter will be a little lumpy; this is normal. DO NOT OVERMIX.

    3. Lightly grease skillet and place over medium heat.

    4. Gently pour batter into skillet (remember, this batter makes four pancakes.)

    5. Flip pancakes as soon as bottoms feel firm when prodded with spatula.

    6. Once pancakes are evenly cooked, serve on plate and top with bananas and strawberries.

    NUTRITION FACTS (2 pancaked, made with unsweetened soymilk and topped with fruit):

    552 calories
    1 g saturated fat
    12 grams monounsaturated fat (the fat that helps reduce LDL cholesterol and heart disease risk)
    1.8 grams Omega-3 fatty acids (in the form of ALA; 85% of a day’s worth)
    412 milligrams sodium
    13 grams fiber
    3.5 grams added sugar
    14 grams protein

    Excellent source of: Fiber, monounsaturated fat, Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin C,whole grains,
    Good source of: Folate, niacin, manganese, potassium, protein, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B6


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