Monday, July 11, 2011

No Sugar Added Protein Energy ... Rounds

I can't call these "bars", since I baked them in a muffin tin, in order to cut out a few steps, and I can't call them "bites" since they are much bigger than just a bite, and I can't call them "muffins", because even though I did bake them in a muffin tin, they are not.  Muffins, that is.  So rounds it is.

I was at the doctor today, and I asked her when postpartum hair loss is supposed to stop.  Her vague-ish answer was, "Six weeks.  Sometimes 12.  Maybe later. Eventually.  Don't worry; you have a lot; you won't be bald."  Captain Subtext translates that into, "Normally, somewhere between six and 12 weeks, but this doesn't apply to you.  Nothing applies to you since you are the hugest medical anomaly I've ever seen." Anyway, she also told me that adding more protein to my diet would help, so I set out to invent something that packs a huge protein punch in a small, quick to grab, easy to eat package. It wouldn't hurt if it gave me a boost of energy, as well, and an even bigger plus would be if it would help boost milk supply.  I don't ask for much, do I?

Anyway, I came up with these ... rounds, which were initially supposed to be bars.  The nuts, nut butter, seeds, and quinoa have a crapton of protein.  Yes, crapton is indeed a scientific measurement.  Look it up. The bananas and the wheat germ are both chock full of potassium, and aside from giving quick energy, potassium is amazingly good for you.

You can customize this recipe a bazillion different ways, according to your taste.  You can use whatever nuts you would like, alone or in combination.  I used almonds, walnuts, and pecans.  You can vary your dried fruit (and if you haven't already, read about why you should dehydrate it yourself).  I used cherries, blueberries, cranberries, and dates.  I almost went tropical and used pineapple, banana, and mango, as I had all of those on hand as well.  Next time...  You can also choose whatever nut or seed butter you most prefer.  I used unsweetened natural almond butter.  Usually I make my own, but I just didn't have time this time.  I did, however, use MaraNatha brand, and their only ingredient is raw almonds.  Even many of the natural nut butters add some oil, so I'm pretty fond of MaraNatha.  I considered using Sunbutter or Tahini.  You can also use the seed of your choice.  I used sunflower, because that's what I had, but pumpkin or sesame would work just as well.

So now I've got nuts and nut butter and quinoa for protein, tons of potassium for energy and other good things, fruit for a burst of natural sweetness, and oats for a lactation boost.  Now, these are not low fat. Nuts are quite caloric and have a high fat content.  However, those fats are the good fats.  They help lower bad cholesterol.  They have lots of protein, fiber, and healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants.  Eating an ounce of nuts a day can help lower your risk of heart disease.  So while these aren't necessarily low fat, they are quite good for you.

Because there is no added sugar, these aren't sweet and cakey like muffins.  They also aren't sweet and salty and crunchy like granola bars.  If you're looking for sweet, then you need to move on.  They are dense and gooey and pack a hell of a nutritional punch.

Protein Energy Rounds

  • 1/2 cup nut or seed butter
  • 2 very ripe mashed bananas
  • 1/2 cup whole nuts
  • 1 1/2 cup dried fruits
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not the quick cooking kind!)
  • 2 TBSP wheat germ
  • 1/8 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Liberal pinch cinnamon
  • 1/4 cups seeds

1.  Preheat oven to 350.

2.  Coarsely chop nuts and dried fruit in food processor.  Be careful and pay attention, because you don't want to make it a gooey paste.  You just want it chopped up into big pieces, like so:

3.  Mix nut butter and bananas until thick and paste like.

4.  Add all the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

5.  Spoon into a lightly sprayed muffin tin.  And by lightly sprayed, I mean spray the hell out of it, or they'll stick!

6.  Bake for 15 minutes.

7.  These must be stored in the refrigerator.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

I'm slowly trying to get back into the swing of things.  The baby is four months old now, and it would be nice to have dinner again every once in awhile.  While he is able to amuse himself for longer stretches than before, he's still only four months old, and those stretches aren't all that long, so quick and easy is the name of the game here.

Drew recently requested some baked macaroni and cheese.  I had no idea how to go about this, because the only macaroni I've ever made in my life came out of a box, and when I gave up Shit That Is Bad For Me (TM), I pretty much stopped eating that.  So I just sort of made this up as I went along, using what we had in the house.  It's certainly not vegan.  It's also not my usual low fat, healthy fare, but it is better than the packaged processed stuff, and I'm nursing.  I can get away with the extra calories right now, because I've seen first hand what not getting enough calories does to my milk supply!

Laura's Make It Up As You Go Along Baked Macaroni and Cheese


  • 8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 3 eggs or equivalent amount of Egg Beaters
  • 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • Generous pinch salt
  • Scant shake cayenne pepper
  • Shake ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 cups grated cheese of choice - I used Swiss, Colby Jack, and Mozzarella.  I suppose most normal people would use sharp cheddar and American, but I'm not normal.  I also don't like cheddar, and we didn't have American.
  • Something crunchy for the top - I used crushed Corn Flakes.  Crushed crackers of some sort or Panko would work really well too.

1.  Preheat oven to 425.

2.  Bring large pot of salted water to boil.

3.  Add macaroni and cook two minutes less than package directions.  Drain and set aside.

4.  If you didn't buy pre-shredded cheese, grate your cheese in whatever manner you       use to grate cheese.  Personally I'm lazy, so I use the food processor.  I'd still be  shredding cheese if I had to do it with a manual grater!

5.  In a large bowl whisk eggs and evaporated milk together until foamy.

6.  Add a generous pinch of salt, the cayenne, and the nutmeg and whisk well.

7.  Stir in the grated cheeses, and mix well.

8.  Add the macaroni and stir well to coat.

9.  Pour into a sprayed casserole or baking dish, and gently smooth the top to make an even layer.

10.  Crush up your crunchy stuff and completely cover the top.

11.  Bake 15 minutes covered and 15 minutes uncovered.

12.  Let rest for ten minutes before serving.

13.  Lastly, if you have one of these, put him in the kitchen and let him help!

My hope is that he'll develop healthy habits early on and not have to struggle like I did.


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