Two New Energy Bar Recipes (with Tart Cherries!)

It’s been a full month that I’ve been drinking tart cherry concentrate, twice a day, and today I’ve got the promised third and final post in this series, including two new recipes and answers to some FAQ’s from my previous posts.

Once again, to be absolutely clear: this series was sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute. It’s the first time I’ve done any sponsored blog content, and I really do appreciate any feedback you have about it.

Believe it or not, I was relieved to read in the comments of the second post that a lot of you tried the 7-Day Tart Cherry Juice Challenge and reported the same results I experienced with my shoulder — an otherwise inexplicable lessening (or even disappearance) of minor pain. I say “relieved” because I’m always so suspicious of supposed superfoods, thinking them usually to be little more than placebos, so it felt almost wrong to be reporting such overwhelmingly positive results in a sponsored series. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this whole experience, and while my shoulder hasn’t fully healed (I still plan on seeing a doctor to figure it out), I sleep so much better now that shoulder pain doesn’t wake me up.

So here we go with the two recipes (FAQ’s follow)! The first, Momo Granola bars, are from chef Mo Ferris, who contributed the recipe, along with two others, to my book. In this version, I doubled the amount of cherries (the best part anyway) and made sure to use tart cherries instead of sweet.

The second recipe is derived from the Ultimate Energy Bar Formula, also in the No Meat Athlete book but on the blog as well.

One more note: You’d need to eat 100 tart cherries per day to equal the amount of tart cherry concentrate (just one ounce, twice a day) that has been studied and shown to reduce muscle soreness. You’re never going to get that amount with these recipes, but hey, the dried tart cherries taste good! And it doesn’t hurt to get a few more throughout the day.

Momo Granola Bars with Extra Cherries

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  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup raw almonds (Mo suggests roasted, salted, but raw worked well for me)
  • ¼ cup rough chopped pecans
  • ¾ cup flax seed (I pulsed mine in the blender to barely chop)
  • ¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons hemp seeds
  • 1 cup chopped dried tart cherries (Mo’s original recipe calls for half this amount)
  • ½ cup brown rice syrup
  • ⅓ cup peanut butter
  • 2 small pinches of kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Chop almonds, pecans and dried cherries at least in half, but with most pieces being even smaller.

3. Place dried cherries into a large mixing bowl.

4. Spread oats, chopped nuts, flax seeds and hemp seeds onto an ungreased baking sheet and toast in oven for 10 minutes. Gently shake and stir the oat mixture after 5 minutes of cooking to avoid burning the top layer and allowing both sides of the nuts and oats to brown.

5. Remove oat mixture from the oven and add to the bowl with the dried cherries. Add salt.

6. Decrease oven temperature to 300 degrees.

7. In a small saucepan, melt peanut butter over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Once the peanut butter is melted and slightly thinner, remove from heat and pour over oat mixture. Mix thoroughly.

8. In a separate small saucepan add brown rice syrup. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Bubbles will begin to form along the sides of the pan and gradually move in towards the center. When bubbles get big and meet in the middle, immediately remove from heat and pour over the oat mixture.

9. Thoroughly mix, coat all ingredients with brown rice syrup and peanut butter.

10. While it is still warm, pour the mixture out into the corner of a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Using wax paper, firmly press and spread mixture into the shape of a rectangle that is ¼ inch thick (no gaps!). NOTE: the mixture will most likely not fill the entire sheet tray. Starting in a corner will give the rectangle 2 or 3 straight edges.

11. Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes or just until the edges begin to brown.

12. Remove from oven and gently re-press the rectangle using the wax paper. Cool completely on the tray. Flip rectangle out onto a cutting board and cut into 3×5 inch bars.

13. Wrap bars individually in plastic wrap and store in a large ziplock bag.

Chocolate-Cherry Happy Bars

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  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed (about 1.5 cups)
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup mashed banana
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups of oats
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • ½ cup dried tart cherries
  • 3 tablespoons tart cherry concentrate
  • 1 tablespoon water

In a food processor, combine black beans, almond butter, maple syrup, mashed banana, vanilla extract, and salt until smooth.

Add the oats, cocoa, and brown rice flour and pulse just to combine. Add the coconut and tart cherries and pulse again, just to combine. Add the tart cherry juice and water and pulse a few more times to mix. if it’s too runny, add an additional 1/4 cup of the brown rice flour.

Grease 13×9 pan with baking spray or rub with 1 tablespoon oil, then spread mixture into pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

Tart Cherries FAQ’s

The first two posts in this series, especially the second, generated a lot of questions from readers about the specifics of tart cherries. I didn’t know most of the answers, so I passed the questions along to the Cherry Marketing Institute and have paraphrased their answers here.

Where can you buy tart cherry juice/concentrate? If I can’t find it in my grocery store, can I get it online?

It’s quite possible you’ll find it in your local grocery store, but if not, ask the manager to source the product you are looking for. Montmorency tart cherries are available for national distribution, so sometimes it just takes consumer demand to put the product on the shelf. If you can’t get them locally, you can order online directly from most of the cherry processors.

What brand of cherries did you use for the challenge?

I didn’t know the brand during the challenge, and that was intentional (all the juice, concentrate, and cherries that they sent me for the experiment came free of labeling). The Cherry Marketing Institute didn’t want this to be about a particular brand, but about tart cherries in general. You can find a full list of processors here.

What about capsules or chewables? Are these as good as juice or concentrate?

You could have guessed this answer: whole foods are better. Our bodies don’t really know what to do with nutrients when they’re taken out of foods, and our scientific understanding of the complex interactions within foods and in our bodies doesn’t yet let us capture the essence of whole food in a pill. I’m not claiming that juice is a whole food, but it’s probably a lot closer than whatever goes into a pill. The science was done on tart cherry juice, so that’s what the cherry people recommend you use.

Are tart cherries something you might build up a tolerance to, and need to take more in the future to get the same anti-inflammatory effect?

This hasn’t been specifically tested. There’s no research to suggest that you would build up a tolerance and would need more. (Nor is there research to suggest that you wouldn’t, I think.)

What about melatonin in Montmorency cherries? Does anyone report drowsiness during the day?

Straight from the cherries people: “Tart cherries are one of the few natural sources of melatonin, which is responsible for the regulation of the body’s internal clock and sleep-wake cycle. Researchers believe it’s the combination of melatonin and the anthocyanins in tart cherries that might help you sleep better at night, but this effect should not impact drowsiness. The research examined sleep efficiency, meaning that participants sleep more soundly once they were asleep.”

Anecdotally, from me: I’ve slept better since drinking tart cherry concentrate, but I think that’s because my shoulder hurts so much less (it hurts much less in the daytime, too, so I don’t think it’s “I’m sleeping more deeply; therefore I don’t notice the shoulder pain at night”). I haven’t noticed any drowsiness during the day (and haven’t in several years since going vegetarian and then vegan — that, for me, has been one of the great benefits of eating this way).

Thanks again for your enthusiasm about and engagement with this series of posts.

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Cream of Tomato Soup from the Oh She Glows Cookbook

ohsheglows 822x1024The day the long-awaited Oh She Glows Cookbook showed up on our doorstep was an exciting one indeed.

My wife and I do a lot of cooking at home, and time permitting, we make as much as we can from scratch — staples like almond butter, hummus, almond milk, and vegetable stock. Foods that of course you can buy, but it just feels better (and it’s usually cheaper, too) to make them ourselves.

And if there’s one blog that has helped us find our way along this less-trodden (these days), do-it-yourself path — and one blog that seems to turn up whenever we Google “how to roast pumpkins” or “oil-free vegan pancake recipe” — it’s Oh She Glows, by Angela Liddon.

Though we haven’t met in person, Angela has become an online friend of mine. I jumped at the chance to get a review copy, knowing major points would be scored on the  home front (as they always are when advance copies of cookbooks show up) but also genuinely excited to see how Angela would distill her considerable natural cooking chops and hundreds of recipes on her blog into a cohesive, comprehensive book format.

To nobody’s surprise, she has done it beautifully, with rustic, DIY elegance.

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How to Make Simple Vegan Pizza from Scratch (Plus a Big Announcement!)

vegan pizza image 2 1024x768For four straight days, my kitchen has been completely destroyed at the end of the day.

Food processor, Blendtec, Dutch oven, and every pot and pan we own completely filthy. The sink piled so high we started calling it Mount Dishmore.

And right now, every time you turn on the front left burner of our stove, it fills the house with toxic plastic fumes, thanks to my accidentally setting a Ziplock bag on it while it was hot.

The above can only be the result of an insane amount of recipe-testing, which is, of course, what my big announcement is all about: I signed a contract with a publisher to write the first No Meat Athlete print book!

I can’t share too many details yet (and likely won’t have many until spring), but of course it’s about the same topics No Meat Athlete is about, and with lots of recipes. Hence the kitchen that every night looks like a mad scientist’s laboratory that has been carpet-bombed.

Anyway, much more news on the book to come. Now, to the fruit of my labor …

Vegan pizza!

For several years, my dad and I have been on a quest to make the perfect homemade brick oven pizza — without a brick oven.

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10 Delicious Ways to Eat More Kale

emklogoI know: you know all about kale.

If you’ve been to a Whole Foods recently, you probably already know that kale scores a perfect 1000 on Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Aggregate Nutrition Density Index (ANDI).

And if you’re a fan of No Meat Athlete on Facebook and saw the infographic we shared a few weeks ago, then you know that per calorie, kale has more iron than red meat and more calcium than milk!

I’ll bet you’ve even heard about those great Eat More Kale shirts, and the fight with Chick-fil-A.

But here’s the real question: are you actually eating kale?

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The World’s Most Versatile Veggie Burger Recipe

iStock 000019040143XSmallAfter seeing how useful (and how popular) the Perfect Smoothie Formula and the Ultimate Energy Bar Formula were, my sister Christine and I set out to see what other foods could benefit from a good formula-izing. That’s a real word.

In case you haven’t seen our other formulas, the idea is simple: instead of creating just one recipe, to make just one smoothie or one energy bar (that your taste buds will surely tire of by next week), we come up with a template that can be used to create virtually limitless variations, leaving room for your ideas in the process.

Smoothies and energy bars were natural choices for formulas. These are foods we eat all the time, so we need endless variations. But what else would lend itself well to a formula?

Enter the veggie burger formula

It’s not that we eat veggie burgers every single day. Or even every week.

But what’s great about veggie burgers is that if you’ve got just a few standby recipes, on any given weeknight you’ve almost certainly got everything you need in your pantry or fridge to throw something edible together in 20 or 30 minutes.

They’re super healthy and a good protein source too. And most importantly, they’re substitution-friendly, making them a perfect fit for a formula — if you’ve got a can of beans and a few random veggies in the fridge, chances are you’ve got what you need.

About the formula

And so Christine got to work creating a new formula. What’s really interesting is that she started with the energy bar formula as the backbone, since the bars are based on beans as well and have a texture that’s befitting of a burger. Of course, she replaced sweet flavors with savory ones, and designed the burgers to be fried, not baked like the bars are.

These burgers work great for a weeknight meal, and they’re perfect for tucking into a pita for a lunch on the go. We like to make them slider-style, since smaller burgers tend to stay together better than large ones and have a better texture. You can also make a large batch on the weekend and freeze ahead of time, but keep in mind that they tend to defrost better in the refrigerator than in the microwave.

Alright, here we go! The master formula is below, and we’ve listed several options for each broad type of ingredient, which you can mix and match to come up with your perfect burger. We’ve also included, at the bottom, three of our favorite combinations in case you’re not in a creating mood.

Enjoy!

The veggie burger formula

Ingredients:

  • 1  pound can of beans, drained and rinsed, or 1.5 cups cooked beans (suggestions: your favorite bean!)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups diced veggies (suggestions: carrots, celery, mushrooms, chopped spinach, chopped kale, corn, chopped artichokes, zucchini, squash, sweet potato)
  • 2 teaspoons + 2 tablespoons oil for frying (suggestions: olive, coconut, grapeseed)
  • 3 tablespoons liquid flavor (mix and match suggestions: mustard, ketchup, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, vegan worcestershire, buffalo sauce, balsamic vinegar, salsa, pasta sauce, marsala, water)
  • 4 teaspoons spice (we recommend combining at least two: smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, italian seasoning, poultry seasoning, montreal steak seasoning, black pepper, cayenne pepper, fennel, oregano, curry powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (omit or reduce if your liquid or spices contain salt)
  • 1 cup dry base ingredient (suggestions: buckwheat, unsweetened protein powder, bread crumbs, cornmeal, oatmeal)
  • 1/2 cup texture ingredient (suggestions: chopped walnuts, olives, avocado, sundried tomatoes, leftover cooked rice/quinoa/bulgur, parsley, cilantro, basil)

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a pan over medium heat. Fry the onion, veggies, and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a food processor and pulse with beans, liquid flavor, spice, salt until combined but still chunky. Pulse in the dry base and texture ingredient.

Form into golf ball size balls and flatten into patties.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Fry patties 2-3 minutes per side until browned and heated through.

Makes about 18 small patties.

Our favorite variations

Mexican Sliders

  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 cups of veggies: 1 cup canned yellow corn, 2/3 cup sweet red pepper, 1/3 cup packed spinach
  • 3 tablespoons liquid: 1 tablespoon lime juice (1/2 a lime), 2 tablespoons red prepared salsa
  • 4 teaspoons spice: 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dry ingredient: cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup texture ingredients: 1/4 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup white rice

Classic Sliders

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 cups of veggies: 1 cup mushrooms, 1/2 cup celery, 1/2 cup green pepper
  • 3 tablespoons liquid: 1 tablespoon ketchup, 1 tablespoon mustard, 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, 2 teaspoons soy sauce or vegan worcershire
  • 4 teaspoons spice: 3 teaspoons Montreal steak seasoning, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp salt (omit salt)
  • 1 cup dry ingredient: panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup texture ingredients: 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Indian Patties

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 cups of veggies: 1 cup sweet potato, chopped fine, 1/2 cup sweet red pepper, 1/2 cup yellow corn
  • 3 tablespoons liquid: 1 tablespoon lime juice (1/2 a lime), 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 4 teaspoons spice: 3 tsp curry, 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup dry ingredient: oats
  • 1/2 cup texture ingredient: 1/4 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup chopped cashews

 

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24 Tasty, Healthy Vegetarian Snack Ideas

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If you still haven't tried roasted chickpeas, do it now and thank us later.

Post written by Susan Lacke.

When I was a kid, I always swore that when I grew up my days would be filled with snack time and recess.

Twenty years later, though I still won’t admit to being a grown-up, I will say I’ve managed to make my childhood dream come true: life as a triathlete provides me with plenty of time playing in the water, riding my bike, or running around.

And the best part? The active lifestyle is one which definitely favors lots of snacking.

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The Super Vegan Protein Source You’re Probably Missing Out On

If I’d have put the name of this food in the title of the post, you probably wouldn’t have kept reading.

But I wanted to first be able to tell you that just a quarter cup of the mystery ingredient has 11 grams of protein in it.  (And that a single serving of soup made from it has 22 grams!)

And that it’s totally soy free, and it’s a whole, unprocessed food.  And that it’s used in a lot of vegan protein powders because it’s such a good source.  Alright, ready?

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My First Vegan Grocery List (and a Must-Make Recipe)

I can’t believe I’m actually going to post a  list of what I bought at the grocery store.

When my wife, Erin, suggested that we save the receipt in case people wanted to know what we bought, given that it was our first full-on vegan trip to the store, I told her no way.

lentils and roots image 300x225“Are you serious?  Who gives a rat’s ass what we buy to eat?” I responded.  (Actually, I was nicer than that.  I may have even offered a foot massage in return for the suggestion.  Not really.)

I mean, I posted my grocery list and all sorts of other boring things about myself when my blog was new and nobody read it, but surely we’re past that now, right?

Nope.  As soon as I wrote something about my first vegan food-shopping trip on Twitter (my current repository for all things personal, petty and childish; follow me there if you want), people asked for the list.

You win, Erin.

So, with the hope that maybe it will help somebody realize that being vegan doesn’t mean just eating lettuce all day, here goes nothin’.

My first vegan shopping list

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