Let’s Talk About Peanut Butter

What ingredients are in your jar of peanut butter? Do you know without looking?

Most popular brands have labels that look something like: “Peanuts, Sugar, 2% Or Less Of: Fully Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (Rapeseed And Soybean), Mono And Diglycerides, Salt.”

When I think about healthy habits and making the right decisions for my body, mono and diglycerides isn’t something that comes to mind first. Or ever. I Googled what exactly this ingredient is (because who even knows) and it’s something that helps the oil (added ingredient) mix with water. Helpful, sure, but what happens when this stuff gets inside the body?

According to Medical News Today, “the FDA classifies monoglycerides as ‘generally recognized as safe’ as food additives and ingredients, meaning that they do not pose an immediate health risk”

Actually the more I research this the more grossed out I get.

What we put into our bodies makes a difference in how we feel now and in the long term! There’s not an immediate health risk, but if you continue to put this into your body over and over for 30 years, then what? And it’s in a lot of packaged foods, not just peanut butter.

Here are my solutions: Read the labels on peanut butter (and everything). My favorite brand is Teddie because it has basic ingredients: peanuts, salt. They even have an unsalted version so it’s literally ONLY PEANUTS! Yes you have to stir these kinds when you open them the first time, but then put it in the refrigerator and when it’s cold it’s like any other junky peanut butter! But better for you! It costs a little more money than the more popular brands, but a little extra now is worth it for your health. Am I right!?

Teddie Peanut Butter

Check your ingredients!

Another option is to make your own, and it’s way easier than you’d think. Start with a cup of peanuts (your choice – unsalted, salted, honey roasted, etc.- just be sure to check those labels too!) and put into a food processor, coffee grinder, or a good blender (I use a Ninja blender) and pulse. Peanuts will first turn into a powder, but keep pulsing and soon you’ll see your peanut butter taking form! Use a rubber spatula to scoop it into a mason jar or other sealed container (perhaps an old peanut butter jar?) and voila! you made your own peanut butter.

I love to make my own to share with my dogs. It’s one of their favorite treats, and knowing it’s not full of junk for them makes me feel good about giving it to them too ❤

Here’s a vegan treat I made for Valentine’s Day using Teddie Peanut Butter + dairy free chocolate. These didn’t last long in my house! Crisp chocolate outside, soft peanut butter inside; I’m drooling thinking about it. Find the recipe on Teddie’s Instagram page.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles, Recipe by Teddie

Let me know, will you make the switch to better peanut butter? Will you make your own? Will you make the truffles!?

Super Spicy Jalapeño Bake

Fresh Jalapeño

Red cabbage

Rice

Red Lentils

Black beans

Corn

Taco seasonings

Toppings: Franks Buffalo Wing sauce, Primal Kitchen Ranch, Chipotle Hemp Hearts

I started by cooking the rice and the lentils, separately, in small saucepans. Each takes two cups water to one cups dry ingredient. Cook until water is absorbed.

While the rice and lentils cook, I prep the jalapenos (with gloves to avoid juices getting all over, lesson learned the hard way) by slicing in half and cleaning everything out of the inside. Lie in baking pan and drizzle with olive oil and place in 400 degree oven to let peppers start to soften.

Rough chop the cabbage into bite sized pieces, cook in cast iron skillet with a little oil until soft.

Season lentils with taco-like spices; I used salt & pepper, cumin, garlic powder, crushed red pepper and crushed chipotle peppers. Stir all together and set aside until jalapenos can almost be pierced with a fork.

Pull jalapeno dish from oven, spread rice all over jalapenos, then scoop lentils on top, followed by rinse canned black beans, and frozen or canned corn kernels. Add soft cabbage and put dish back in the oven and bake until jalapenos are easily pierced with a fork.

Drizzle on Franks Buffalo sauce and Primal Kitchen Ranch dressing and sprinkle Chipotle hemp hearts on top. Of course, you could omit the hot sauce if you don’t like super spicy, but I think it’s a great way to get a little extra water intake for the day.

Spicy Sweet Potato Bowl

1 head cabbage

2 medium sweet potatoes

1 can black beans

1 can sweet corn

1 can diced tomatoes

2 bell peppers, I used red and yellow


2 onions

Spices: cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, chipotle pepper

Chop each sweet potato in half and cook in boiling water until fork pierces all the way through, but potatoes don’t fall apart. Let cool. Skin should peel off easy, chop into smaller pieces.

Chop cabbage into bite sized pieces and cook in a little boiling water, covered, until soft.

In a large pot, cook peppers in a little oil until they start to soften, then add onion. Add black beans, corn, tomatoes, stir. 

Add in cabbage and all spices. Use a fork to mix everything together really well and let cook on low temp for a few minutes. Finally, add in cooked sweet potato and stir carefully to make sure they don’t get smashed if they are extra soft.

Unstuffed Cabbage

1 medium cabbage

1 cup rice

1 large onion

Garlic

1 15 oz can tomatoes

1 jar pasta sauce

Cook rice according to package directions.

Bring large pot full of water to a boil, add bite sized pieces of cabbage. Cook until soft, just a few minutes, drain water.

Cook garlic (amount used is up to you) and onion in large cast iron skillet until it starts to brown. Add cooked cabbage and stir. Add can of tomatoes, stir until well mixed. Add jar of pasta sauce and stir it together until everything is mixed with sauce. Finally, add the rice and use a fork to mix with cabbage.

Let cook on low heat for about ten minutes, stirring frequently to make sure rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Enjoy!

Spicy Acorn Squash Energy Bowl

I needed a good meal after the gym and came up with this awesome dish. I had a half serving of rice and half of an acorn squash in my bowl, trying not to go overboard on carbs. Also I used more of a deep plate, but I’m still calling it a bowl!

Acorn Squash

White rice

Red, green, yellow bell peppers

Onion

Guacamole

Hemp hearts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut squash in half starting at the stem then scoop out the seeds. Place squash face down in baking dish with just enough water to cover bottom of dish and bake for about 30 minutes or until skin can be pierced easily with fork.

Cook rice according to package. Chop peppers and onion and cook in cast iron skillet until soft and slightly browned.

I had guacamole already made, but it’s super easy. Avocado, salt & pepper, garlic powder, chipotle pepper, Franks hot sauce. Done!

Scoop squash from skin into bowl and add peppers, onion, rice, guac, hemp hearts, and hot sauce.

Pictured is everything together in my bowl, but then I mixed it all up to eat it (not as pretty).

*Add cooked cubed chicken if you eat meat

Homemade SpaghettiOs

While I was still working in an office and had no idea what a healthy diet was supposed to look like, I would buy lunch from the pharmacy in the building. That included foods like Ramen noodles, salt & vinegar potato chips, chocolate covered pretzels, or some kind of microwavable Chef Boyardee or Campbell’s product. I didn’t know how to read a nutrition label or even think about looking at an ingredient list, and I’m positive not one thing was clean or macro friendly. Fast forward five years and now I have my own version of the classic canned SpaghettiOs. 

This recipe was a happy accident that happened when I needed to go grocery shopping, but didn’t feel like it so I used pretty much the only things I had in the house: gluten free noodles and tomato soup.

I had no idea what creation I was about to make, but I cooked the noodles according to the package directions (I used this) and added the noodles back to the pot after drained. Next, the tomato soup (this) is added to the pot with the noodles and heated until everything is warm. At this point the recipe could be done, or you can add some of your favorite spices to kick it up a notch. 

This is a great alternative to the canned version of SpaghettiOs, even if it isn’t technically ‘spaghetti’. You can use any type of pasta and any brand of tomato soup and have the same result. I use whatever I have on hand at the time and it always tastes the same. Just make sure to check your labels if you want your dish to be clean!

Broccoli Soup

1 large broccoli crown

1 cup shredded carrots

4 Garlic cloves

Olive oil

7 oz Coconut milk

2 cups water

2 Vegetable bouillon cubes

Banza Chickpea elbow pasta

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Chop broccoli into bite sized pieces, coat in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast in oven for 15 minutes.

Cook garlic in olive oil in a large pot. Add shredded carrots and roasted broccoli, stir. Add two cups water and one bouillon cube and let dissolve. Add coconut milk and other bouillon cube, stir and let dissolve. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add pasta and let cook 8-10 minutes or until soft but not falling apart.

Serve with gluten free crackers on top!

Buffalo Cauliflower Vegan Taco Bowl

One of those days where I have no idea what we’ll have for dinner, but then it turns out pretty awesome! The original idea was everything stuffed into taco shells but I always stuff them way too much and it all falls apart so instead I put it all in a bowl and mixed it all together.

For cauliflower:                 1 head cauliflower

Frank’s Hot Buffalo Sauce*

Other Ingredients:          Rice

Re-fried Black Beans

Multi Colored Bell Peppers

Mann’s Kale Beet Blend

Black Bean & Corn Salsa

Blue Corn Taco Shells

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Chop cauliflower into bite sized pieces and put into a large bowl. Drizzle a generous amount of buffalo sauce on top and mix all together until every piece of cauliflower is covered completely. Add more sauce as needed. Roast cauliflower in single layer on baking sheet for 20-25 minutes or until easily pierced with fork and a little browned.

Cook the rice while cauliflower is roasting; I like to make extra rice so I have some for another meal the next day. Chop peppers into small pieces and cook in pan on stove. Add onion too if you want, I just didn’t have any on hand. I have a large cast iron skillet, so when the peppers were soft and slightly browned, I moved them to the side of the skillet and added the re-fried black beans to the other side just to warm them up.

Once everything was ready, I started with breaking some taco shells into a bowl, then I added rice, peppers, black beans, cauliflower, greens, and salsa, then more broken shells. This was really easy to prepare and came together quickly!

*If you don’t like spicy, use your favorite mild taco sauce.

Week 1 Day 1

Breakfast: Mashed sweet potato with almond butter, whole almonds, and cinnamon mixed in

Lunch: Banana, macadamia nuts.

Dinner: Pizza Spaghetti Pie. Spaghetti squash and pasta sauce, plus your favorite veggies. One of my favorite meals, ever!

Whole30 says you can pretty much eat as much as you feel like you need at meals, but try to cut out snacking between meals. If you workout regularly, or are pregnant or breastfeeding then you should snack because your body will need the extra fuel.

One of the first things I do when I meal prep is boil 3-4 (or half a bag) sweet potatoes. It takes about 30 minutes, but they get so soft and easy to mash, and the skin peels right off. I make this breakfast regularly, so it saves me so much time each morning. You can also cook the spaghetti squash ahead of time and then throw together the rest of the ingredients later when you’re ready to cook and eat.

Most days, I stay pretty full from breakfast or I eat breakfast late in the morning, so my lunch will be a snack or preworkout type food. I started this on New Years’ Day so I’m pretty sure I woke up really late in the day, I usually eat much more than a banana and nuts for lunch!

-Sweet potato bowl-

Week 1 Day 2

Breakfast: 4 egg whites, diced russet potatoes

Lunch: Nachos

Dinner: Chicken breast, broccoli, potato slices

I like to mix my eggs whites with some (compliant) almond milk and spinach, cook, then top with salsa, hemp hearts, and Franks hot sauce.

Nachos. Are. Awesome. They are so easy to make and so satisfying! I sliced potatoes on the medium setting on my mandoline slicer, brushed on both sides with melted coconut oil and dusted with salt and pepper. Into a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes (flip halfway) and they come out crisp and delicious! While those are cooking, I browned ground beef and seasoned like tacos (I make my own seasoning). When everything is finished cooking, layer chips-beef-salsa-avocado (garlic powder, s&p, crushed red pepper)-jalapeños-hot sauce. My mouth is watering.

I seasoned the chicken breast with Tuscan seasoning and cooked in a cast iron skillet. Potatoes sliced into thicker rounds, brushed with coconut oil (I do this with a lot of foods), add pepper and garlic salt, and bake in oven 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, flip halfway. These come out soft and are a definite repeat food.

In the beginning, there were a lot of potatoes in my meals. Potatoes don’t work for everyone and can cause tummy issues, so pay attention to how you feel when you have them and cut them out if you think they might be causing a problem.

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