Pumpkin Pie Protein Bars

Pumpkin Pie Protein Bars

There’s only one problem with this Pumpkin Pie Bar recipe.

It’s too delicious.

Seriously, I always end up having to give these bars away or else I’ll keep snacking on them!

I first started making these bars about 10 years ago and they still make me as happy as ever! I’ve tweaked the recipe over the years – it’s forgiving, especially the base recipe. (NOTE: You likely will not have good luck substituting non-dairy milk in the filling.)

Since I enjoy a “oat-ier” base because of its heartier/nuttier taste, I make my own oat flour. Feel free to experiment with other flours – just remember: nut flours require less butter since they come preloaded with healthy fats.

Pumpkin doesn’t always get the respect it deserves. It’s very nutrient dense (it has a lot of nutrition in it for its caloric load) and yet it can still taste like a treat.

Keep these stored in the fridge until you’re ready to enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Base
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup oat flour (I grind oatmeal in my high-speed blender)
1/2 cup flour (experiment with your favorites)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup cold grass-fed butter, cut into small cubes

Filling
2 cups organic skim milk
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 15-oz can real pumpkin puree
5 scoops (equal to 125 g) vanilla protein powder (OWYN or Sun Warrior are my go-to brands)
3 large organic omega 3 eggs
Coconut sugar, to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine first three base ingredients in bowl or stand mixer. Add the cubed butter to the other ingredients, squeezing the butter into the other ingredients to form a coarse breadcrumb-like texture. Press into a 9×13 baking pan, and bake for 12 minutes.

While that’s cooking, bring milk and spices to a boil in a saucepan. As soon as it boils, transfer to a large mixing bowl. Stir in the pumpkin first, then the protein powder, and, finally, the eggs. If using the coconut sugar, add here.

When base is ready, remove it from the oven and pour the pumpkin filling mixture on top. Place back in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the filling as set (it might jiggle a little in the middle, but is somewhat firm to the touch). Cool, cut into 8 pieces and store in the fridge or freezer.

Per serving: 313 calories, 10 grams fat, 4 grams fiber, 34 grams carbs, 23 grams protein.

No-Bake Cookie Oatmeal

No-Bake Cookie Oatmeal

Back in 2010 when I first published this recipe (which I’ve since updated), this was one of my favorite mini meals.

And why wouldn’t it be? It contains chocolate AND peanut butter. What could be better? It’s also filled with protein, fiber, antioxidants, and contains very little fat.

Yes, I know we are rethinking our whole relationship with fat, but it’s energy dense (high in calories) and when you’re watching your macros, that can play a role in your food decisions.

Back when I competed more regularly, this was one of my go-to breakfast meals. It powered me through my mornings and kept me feeling full till noon.

No-Bake Cookie Oatmeal

Ingredients

1/2 cup gluten-free old-fashioned oatmeal, dry
2 tablespoons PB2 (powdered peanut butter) (if you don’t have this, use 1 tablespoon “real” natural peanut butter)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder (the kind you bake with)
1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder (I use Sun Warrior)

Cook the oatmeal in 1 cup of water, as per package directions. Place oatmeal in a bowl and add dry ingredients, mixing well. If it’s not sweet enough for you (it is for me), add some stevia. Voila! Done! Delicious.

To make this richer, you can make the oatmeal using coconut or almond milk.

Nutritional breakdown:
260 calories, 7 fat grams, 8 grams fiber, 36 grams carbohydrates, 23 protein grams.

With 1 tablespoon “real” peanut butter if you don’t have access to PB2:
313 calories, 13 fat grams, 7 grams fiber, 33 grams carbs, 21 protein grams

Oatmeal turkey pizza crust

Oatmeal turkey pizza crust

I love recipes that don’t have to be EXACT. This one doesn’t — and it’s a good guilt-free way to indulge in a dish that’s usually not so healthy for us: Pizza!

I started making this back in 2011 after seeing it in an issue of Oxygen magazine, but have revised it over the years. Feel free to play around with the toppings (the last 7  ingredients).

You can add a Mexican flare with salsa, mix up the veggies, try different cheese — your choice!

Makes 1 serving

Oatmeal Turkey Pizza Crust

Ingredients:
1/2 cup gluten-free oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground flaxseed
2 oz extra-lean ground turkey
1 cup chopped baby spinach
1/4 cup unsalted tomato paste
1/4 cup 1% cottage cheese
2 tbsp red onion, chopped
2 tbsp red bell pepper, chopped
1 roma tomato, sliced
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, mix together first 4 ingredients. Flatten this oatmeal crust into a disc shape on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, flip over and bake for another 5.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Spread out on top of the oatmeal cake.
  4. Bake until cheese melts. Sprinkle with fresh parmesan (optional) when it comes out of the oven
Banana cheesecake protein shake

Banana cheesecake protein shake

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Sometimes I sneak some not-that-“clean” food into my healthy-ish meals.

Because sometimes a gal just has to eat something that tastes like cheesecake but that doesn’t blow her macros through the roof. Am I right?

This Banana Cheesecake Protein Smoothie is a case in point. The sugar-free, fat-free cheesecake pudding mix in this recipe makes this smoothie thick, luscious and decadent … and that’s not a bad thing, in my book.

Try it! This was originally posted in 2011, but I updated it to make it even “cleaner” … except for the instant pudding mix. 🙂

Banana Cheesecake Protein Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I use Sun Warrior brand)
1 tbsp sugar-free fat-free cheesecake pudding mix
1 cup coconut milk
1 medium frozen, sliced banana
small amount of water (if needed)

Place first four items in a high-speed blender and mix well. Add a little water if it’s too thick. Drink. Yum!

That meltdown I had earlier this week 5/11/18

That meltdown I had earlier this week 5/11/18

So the other day I had a meltdown. It was long overdue, and even though it happened more than 48 hours ago, I am still not quite recovered from it.

That’s because of my general modus operandi for life, which doesn’t allow the “luxury” of a meltdown:

  1. I waited too long (more than a dozen years) to have the meltdown.
  2. Things to melt down about kept piling on because I waited.
  3. I had too much stuff to do to wallow in the ever-increasing pile.
  4. See No. 1 above, and continue the cycle.

There’s a big mountain of unfinished business to deal with now, and while I don’t think this will be a long job, it’s time to start shoveling through it.

Because my health is involved now.

The other night, hours after the actual meltdown, I had a headache so I took my blood pressure. I didn’t like the numbers I saw. At all.

Here’s the thing: even healthy people who theoretically do “all the right things” can get stuff wrong with them. I have decades worth of an autoimmune disease in my back pocket (which I have soldiered through pretty darn uncomplainingly if I do say so myself, because why would anyone listen?). But now I’m at the age where it has lots of ripple effects, including hypertension. 

If the past couple years have taught me anything, it’s that problems will continue to escalate until you decide to address the underlying issues. They won’t go away.

BTW, how weird is it I’m more scared of dealing with the health care industrial complex than I am of kicking the bucket?

Anyhoo, I realize I need to make some additional changes in my life … changes I’m not that excited about and will be railing against over the next couple days.  

Oh, fun!

5 things for Friday, May 11

1. I love sugar and it doesn’t love me. When you have an autoimmune disease that saps your energy, sometimes you crave quick foods that will give you a boost (SUGAR!). But in the long run, it actually saps your energy. Yet another reason to curse the design of the human body.

2. It’s hard to write lists and blog posts when you censor out a lot of tasty morsels because they involve other people whom you don’t want to burn.

3. I once had a married personal training client (someone I inherited from another trainer who attracted a different sort of clientele than my regulars) who used to frequent an “adult friend” website at least weekly. She told me she “met” a guy on that site, drove 50 miles to “meet” him in real life, engaged in an adult-friend encounter in the back of his vehicle, and drove home. My main question, among many: what is your self-talk on the way home from that encounter?

4. I have a lot of stories. So many. 

5. Is it bad I shared that one?

Workout

  • 4x through:
    • Leg press x 12
    • Leg extension x 15
  • Romanian deadlift with DB, 4×12
  • Alternating reverse lunges with KB, 4×10 each side
  • Single-leg hip thrusts, 4×15 each side