sweet spreads product review and strawberries and cream gelatin gummies!

Holy smokes, guys. On Monday, I got a package in the mail, and I’ll tell you what, that was a great way to start the week (not to mention I came home from an amazing massage to find the package)… Winning.

So what was in the package you might ask? Well, something great; 6 small jars of the best coconut buttery spread I have tasted to date, and I’ve tried quite a few. SWEET SPREADS is the newest delicious spreadable coconut buttery blissful creation, and they can be used in seemingly countless ways. I’ve had the box open for two days, and I’ve already come up with and executed 5 (but more on that to come). Rusty and I had a blast doing our own little taste testing. I also love that Sweet Spreads is a small business, run by passionate people, who are inspired by health, real food, sustainability, and FLAVOR.

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Here are the flavors (in order of amusingness):

chocolate brownie

white chocolate (AMAZING)

chocolate brownie (DELISH)

maple pancakes (currently working on a blended iced chai with this one)

cinnamon roll (currently perfecting a cinnamon roll pudding with this one)

vanilla cupcake (see recipe below!)

dark chocolate mint (only at the bottom because I am not a big mint fan, but still so tasty)

So what’s in it?

Well, each has the following:

  • Organic UnSweetened Coconut Shreds (Base)
  • Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Raw Pecans
  • All Natural Vanilla Extract (GF)
  • Organic Cane Sugar

First thing to note is that the ingredients are organic, which as you know from all of my posts, including THIS one on my ingredient quality, is important to me. There is nothing artificial about these, only pure coconutty deliciousness, designed for any purpose your heart desires really. Though there is cane sugar, which is a sweetener, it’s the last ingredient, and one of the best sugar options out there because it’s minimally processed and organic. Even with the cane sugar, a serving of any of the sweet spreads comes in under 6g carbohydrate and has only 2g of sugar. That is not bad for something that tastes this good, making these spreads a great choice when you are in need of something a little bit sweet that won’t send you off the deep end. The organic coconut and raw pecans provide healthy, energy-dense fat to fuel your every adventure – from training in the gym and hikes in the great outdoors, to marathon Game of Thrones watching or a busy workday.

The stuff is great for the spreading on or dipping of your favorite foods – think apple slices, bananas, strawberries, paleo pancakes, zucchini bread, sweet potato (cinnamon roll… try it); baking into your favorite sweet treats; mixing into shakes, coffee, or chai; or as you’ll see below, creating delicious puddings and gelatin goodies! I can guarantee you’ll find more Lift Laugh Eat Repeat creations in the coming weeks. The deliciousness of the Sweet Spreads has ignited some serious creativity in the Bruner Kitchen.

Without further ado, here is my first creation made from these delicious spreads… I have been wanting to make a new gummy recipe for a while, and who can resist berries and cream??

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Strawberries and Cream Gelatin Gummies (GF, DF, NF)

  • Servings: about 14
  • Time: 40 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 cup defrosted frozen or fresh strawberries (if you defrost keep the juice)
  • 3/4 cup filtered water (if you defrosted your berries, use the juice as a part of this amount)
  • 1/4 cup vanilla cupcake Sweet Spreads
  • 6 TB grass-fed beef gelatin (I use THIS kind – note: you have to use the orange so it will create the gumminess)**
  • OPTIONAL: 3-4 drops Stevia extract if you’d like them extra sweet (I don’t think it’s necessary)

HERE is a post on the benefits of gelatin

WHAT TO DO:

  • blend your berries, water, and sweet spreads in a food processor until smooth and creamy (no berry chunks)
  • in a small pot over medium-low heat, whisk the blended berry-water-sweet spread mixture and gelatin together vigorously until the gelatin is well dissolved and the mixture is blended
  • pour the mixture into a small glass or ceramic dish (the smaller the pan, the thicker your gummies will be)
  • chill in the refrigerator until completely set (about 30 min), then cut into desired shapes 

We keep ours in a mason jar for an easy grab-and-go midday pick me up!

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Happy hump day! If you try these, leave a comment, and let me know what you think. I love hearing from you!

 

 

keto vanilla coco-nut poppers…

If you didn’t get a chance to read my post yet on the ketogenic diet and whether or not it might be a good fit for you, take a moment to head on over HERE.

Put simply, ketosis refers to fat-fueled metabolism – a metabolic state where the body gets energy from fat. The beauty of having control over your own body is that it is very adaptable, and with small tweaks, you can fuel that adaptable machine for great success.

This has been working really well for me, as of late, to maintain blood sugar levels, keep energy levels high, and maintain muscle mass and body composition while I my training is really restricted as I heal my herniated discs.

I have been experimenting with different ways to get delicious, nutritious fats in, especially with my hectic schedule, and the original fat poppers have been pretty spectacular. But change is nice, so I decided to make a few tweaks. This new recipe was also inspired by a few of my client who aren’t crazy about the taste of coconut. The almond butter and vanilla in these bad boys really change the taste and texture, resulting in a delicious final product!

I also want to make sure that folks understand that, while these are DELICIOUS and a wonderful tool in helping transition your body to fuel off of fat, they are still calorie dense. If used simply as a supplemental snack throughout the day in addition to 5+ meals a day rather than as intended, they won’t serve the purpose, and you won’t get the benefits outlined in my original post.

These are great before a workout, as a snack when you have a long time before meals, or as a quick bite in the morning to continue a fat fast from a night’s sleep.

Let me know what you think!

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Keto Vanilla Coco-Nut Poppers (GF, keto)

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 40 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 ½ cup shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup extra virgin coconut oil
  • 3 TB cup butter, grass-fed (I use Paleo Butter) or 3 more TB coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup raw organic almond butter
  • 1 tsp organic vanilla extract
  • 3-4 drops Stevia extract
  • pinch sea salt (optional)

(Note: 1 bag of the Let’s Do Organic shredded coconut makes exactly 2 batches)

WHAT TO DO:

  • preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast for 5-8 minutes until light golden (stir it up once or twice to prevent burning)
  • toss the shreds into a Vitamix or blender and turn on high, until they turn into a fine powder (*if you prefer the texture of coconut shreds, blend for less time)
  • melt coconut oil, add butter and almond butter and stir until soft, and throw that in the Vitamix
  • blend until smooth and liquidy
  • pour into a bowl (I reused my measuring cup for one less dish)
  • stir in stevia, vanilla, and optional sea salt
  • use a tablespoon and pour a rounded scoop into tiny muffin tins
  • pop in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to set (*if they haven’t set long enough, they will not pop out)
  • pop them out by banging the back of your muffin tin (kind of fun)
  • keep them in the fridge in an air tight glass container
  • ENJOY!!  

 

the best parts of summer… and a delicious summer soup!

Ahhhh summer. It’s hard to beat this time of year; sunshine, tank tops, flip flops, cold brew, bright produce, and The CrossFit Games… What’s not to love?

First, let’s talk about the CrossFit Games. 1 day is done, and what a day it was for my good friends, Jason Khalipa, who is holding his own as an individual, and our NorCal team, who tackled the waves as a team and took first in their heat and second overall this morning in workout 1 at the beach.

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(picture courtesy of CrossFit, Inc.)

It’s going to be an eventful weekend of amazing competition, quality teamwork, and a lot of fun in the sun. It’s hard to beat the atmosphere of the 2014 CrossFit Games. The fittest athletes, the fittest spectators, and all kinds of fun to be had. Stay tuned!!

Now, let’s talk about another summer favorite, that bright produce. It’s amazing to me how much I crave bright, fresh, colorful produce this time of year. I really think there is something to be said for the way that cravings change depending on the seasons (comfort food in the winter anyone?) I believe this stems back to our ancestry and the fact that at certain times of the year, there was only access to certain types of foods. We’ve adapted to crave and need certain nutrients cyclically. It’s pretty fun to think about this stuff, and it lends more credibility to the idea that we shouldn’t get stuck in a rut, eating the same foods, the same meals day in and day out. Sticking to meats, veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar is a great start that will make big changes for so many, BUT we can’t forget the nutrient density and the importance of variety; eating the rainbow isn’t just for Froot Loops (and if you have learned anything from me, I hope you know we should probably avoid eating Froot Loops).

As often as possible, try new produce, shop locally for your food, and eat seasonally.

This will not only help guarantee that you are getting the nutrients your body needs for the time of year, but it will also ensure that you are getting the most nutrients out of that produce possible. Remember THIS post? The colors in the foods we eat do more than give us a pretty plate; they also are a telltale sign of the nutrients provided with every bite.

Those purple plums and pluots, deep dark blackberries, beautiful blueberries, and deep red tomatoes (along with their red, blue, purple relatives) get that color from anthocyanins, also fruits and veggies of this color carry essential vitamins and minerals such as potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and folate.

Those orange and yellow foods we love (carrots, sweet potatoes, yellow tomatoes, and peppers, to name a few are stock full of carotenoids, folate, potassium, bromium and vitamin C.  Plus, beta-carotene is a carotenoid that your body uses to create vitamin A.

The dark leafy greens that can be found at ever Farmer’s stand contain vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, chlorophyll, indoles, and lutein, which may lower your risk for cancer and can help prevent vision problems, among so m any other health benefits.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Summer is our time to soak in these nutrients, while enjoying every minute of it! So don’t miss out. Find your local Farmer’s Market, chose new produce every week, and have some fun in the kitchen, just like I did with this brand new recipe….

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Summer Chilled Carrot Curry Coconut Soup

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 60 min
  • Difficulty: moderate
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WHAT YOU NEED (you can get almost all of this from Farmer’s Market):

  • 1 bunch of scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 TB finely grated ginger root
  • 2 TB of grass-fed butter ( I use Paleo Butter)
  • 1 TB curry powder (or more depending on your taste)
  • 3-4 large carrots, sliced thin (I keep the skin on)
  • 2 1/2 cups of homemade bone broth
  • 1 1/2 cups of full fat, organic coconut milk (from a BPA-free can)
  • 1 TB fresh lime juice (or more depending on your taste)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • ice water as needed to thin soup
  • Optional garnishes: coconut cream, trimmed scallions, goat cheese, etc.

WHAT YOU DO:

  • warm a large cast iron sauce pan over medium low heat, and throw in your butter
  • cook scallion, onion, and ginger root in the butter with curry powder and a bit of salt* and pepper until softened
  • add carrots and broth, let simmer for 20 minutes covered (until carrots are soft)
  • in a blender, puree mixture, adding coconut milk until smooth
  • pour into a bowl and stir in lime juice
  • chill at least 5 hours or overnight
  • thin soup with a little ice cold water
  • add optional garnishes
  • ENJOY!! We had ours with a beautiful Farmer’s Market salad and beef kabobs

Tate the rainbow….. and stay tuned because this is a versatile one! I have two new easy recipes for you that incorporate this chilled soup in all kinds of new ways! I love leftovers and recreating.

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chocolate banana BROtein cakes

The CrossFit Games are upon us, and this year is going to be extra exciting and anxiety-provoking. We’ve got good friend, Jason Khalipa, going for gold as an individual, and our NorCal team competing for their spot too. On top of that, I’ll be pulling hard for my friends Margaux Alvarez and Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (among other awesome colleagues). There’s little more inspiring than the effort, passion, and dedication these guys put into their training every single day, not to mention the fact that they balance family, work, and play in there too. I think people genuinely underestimate what it takes to get where these athletes are. Actually I know most do; there was a time when I did too! I’ve worked many a Level 1 Seminar where people will tell me of their aspirations to make it to The Games in a year, which (no disrespect to them) is just not realistic. It takes 100% dedication, LOTS of sacrifice, and perhaps some genetic advantage too.

These top level athletes earn their spot, and they have truly learned to dial EVERYTHING in. That includes nutrition. With so little time to food prep, it’s still really important for them to get high quality, nutrient rich, and energy dense foods to fuel their performance and keep them healthy, energized, and injury free.

Jason recently asked when I’d be baking something for him (I think I owe him a lifetime of baked goods, considering he was the one that got me in the doors of a CrossFit gym for the first time). Knowing banana baked goods are his jam, and that he’s fueling for the biggest competition of the year, I decided to throw something together that would provide just the sustenance needed, while still tasting DELICIOUS! I’ll be bringing these to our company brunch tomorrow. (Side note: how cool is that the NorCal coaches all get together on the regular to hang out?)

So, here’s what I came up with….

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Chocolate Banana BROtein Cakes (GF, NF)

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 40-60 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk (from the can)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate protein powder
  • 2 really ripe bananas
  • 2 pastured eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 TB vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or more to taste)
  • depending on the sweetness of your protein powder, you might want to add 4-5 drips of stevia or 1-2 TB honey*
  • ADDITIONS: chopped nuts and dark chocolate chips

*I assure you tasting a bit of batter will not hurt you (I have raw pastured egg yolks frequently)

WHAT YOU DO:

  • mash the bananas up real nice
  • add eggs, coconut milk, vanilla, and optional sweetener and mix well
  • in a separate bowl, stir up coconut flour, protein powder, baking soda, and cinnamon
  • pour wet mixture into the dry, and use a hand mixer or spoon to make it into a nice batter
  • add optional nuts and/or chocolate chips (I also sprinkle some chips on too because it looks nice)
  • use 1/4 cup to pour batter into cupcake wrappers in your muffin tin
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean)
  • ENJOY! Great for pre/post workout or as a delicious start to your day 
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