Monday, September 5, 2016

No-Bake Chocolate Chex Protein Bars

Did you know September is National Whole Grain Month? It is indeed, which is why I am so excited to work with General Mills on this blog post. Ninety-five percent of Americans don’t get enough whole grain in their diet, but with cereal from General Mills, it’s easy. Whole grain is the first ingredient in all of the General Mills Big G Cereals, which means there is more whole grain than any other ingredient, including sugar from all combined sources. Awesome. 

Chocolate Chex is easily my favorite General Mills Big G cereal, so when the brand reached out about creating a recipe in honor of National Whole Grain Month, I was immediately on-board. Chocolate Chex contains 10 grams of whole grain rice per serving, with whole grain rice as the first ingredient. It’s also gluten-free, isn’t made with high fructose corn syrup, and doesn’t have any artificial colors or flavors. While it doesn’t have the lowest sugar content of General Mills Big G Cereals, it comes in at just 8 grams per serving, which isn’t too shabby considering it always satisfies my chocolate craving with that amazing cocoa taste in every bite.

No-Bake Chocolate Chex Protein Bars

Since I’m an avid meal prep participant, I wanted to create an easy recipe that I could enjoy all week long. And, of course, I wanted it to taste great and satisfy, which is why this recipe No-Bake Chocolate Chex Protein Bars has become a recent staple in our house. They’re a perfect snack before or after a workout (or for dessert) because they have a nice mix protein, carbs, and fat (macros below).

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This recipe requires only four ingredients and can be whipped up in just a matter minutes. Ok, you’ll need to soak the dates overnight, but, other than that, this recipe comes together quickly and effortlessly. And you can’t beat the delicious combination of ingredients: Chocolate Chex, dates, coconut oil, and vanilla protein powder. I’m telling ya, this recipe is definitely a winner! (FYI: These protein bars freeze well, so I often make a double-batch for future consumption.)

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  • 6 cups Chocolate Chex cereal
  • 12 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked overnight
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup vanilla (or chocolate) protein powder
  • 2 tbsp chocolate chips (optional)


Remove dates from water and place into a food processor along with melted coconut oil.

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Process until smooth.

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In a large mixing bowl, combine date-coconut oil batter with Chocolate Chex and protein powder.

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Continue to mix until protein powder is fully absorbed into cereal mixture.

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Line a 9X9 baking dish with parchment paper and then pour batter into dish. Use a spatula to evenly spread the mixture into the dish, pressing down to flatten.

Optional: Melt chocolate chips in a microwave-safe dish in the microwave. Drizzle melted chocolate over the top of the cereal mixture.


Refrigerate dish overnight. The next day, remove the parchment paper from the baking dish and use a knife to cut into 12 bars. Store bars in the refrigerator.

Makes 12 bars

Macros: P: 7 C: 36 F: 11

from Carrots 'N' Cake

Clean Eating Shrimp And Asparagus Skillet Recipe

Clean Eating Shrimp And Asparagus Skillet Recipe

Sometimes, the best meals are the quickest. But lets face it, flavor matters.

This dish is the best of both worlds! It cooks up in about 10-15 minutes, it’s easy-breezy to make and it packs a… Read more →

from The Gracious Pantry

High Low High 13

Hi, friends!

Happy Labor Day to you! How was your long weekend? Ours was both nice and busy, which I guess was the perfect end to the summer. 🙂

Guys, our summer was crazy, and I feel like we didn’t stop moving for nearly 3 months. I’m not complaining—it was all fun stuff—but now I’m more than ready to get back into a routine. Mal is back to school tomorrow, Qman is going to daycare, and I’m finally going to get my act together with CNC and Designed to Fit. Since June (hell, since Quinn was born), I feel like I’ve been flying by the seat of pants/putting out fires with regard to work, so I’m looking forward to turning over a new leaf— try some new things, hire some help, get organized and be more strategic with my time, especially now that I’m juggling a second business. Hey, there’s a lot of exciting stuff happening over here! Anyway, I love a good High Low High post and know you guys do too, so here’s a recap of the high and low moments of our (long) weekend!

HIGH: Starting my half marathon training with an 8-mile run! 

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LOW: Being SO THIRSTY during it. I definitely didn’t plan my hydration well. Ugh, such a rookie move.

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I usually do my long runs at Southfield (now called “Union Point” –-> stupid name change in my opinion) and make my running loop include a water stop at my car. I thought I could make it through 8 miles without water (I’m typically fine anything less than 10 miles or so), but it was hot and I drank wine the night before, so I was dying. Omg, water was the only thing I could think about for the last couple of miles of my run. Now I’m debating getting a hand-held water bottle or just sticking to my car water-stop method. We shall see.

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Related: Brooks Running is having an awesome end of summer sale right now!! Enjoy an extra 25% on sale apparel now through September 5th. Promotion valid on sale apparel only. Sizes and styles are limited, so once they’re gone, they’re gone. Be sure to hop on it!

HIGH: Celebrating our friends’ wedding! They’re friends that we met through CrossFit, so the reception was basically a reunion and SO MUCH FUN.


LOW: Seeing our old CrossFit friends actually made me kind of sad that we don’t get together more often. Mal and I definitely need to do a drop-in at our old CrossFit soon. FYI, since I get this question a lot, we joined a new CrossFit box because we moved to a new town (last summer) and our old gym didn’t have childcare (and our new one does).

HIGH: Taking an early-morning trip to Coffee Shack. Mal and I got breakfast sandwiches and iced coffee. Qman got an Everything bagel with cream cheese. Mmm!

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LOW: Driving out to Funny Farm to visit family, and Quinn (and Murphy) falling asleep in the car. It was only 9:30 AM, so we didn’t think a short nap would mess up his usual routine. But when it was time for him to nap later that afternoon, he never really did. He alternated between being quiet (and us thinking he was asleep) and chatting up a storm in his Pack ‘N’ Play. After about an hour or so, we eventually called it quits and figured he just wasn’t tired and that his catnap in the car was enough sleep for him. Well, we were sort of right about that. He was mostly happy, but he ended up being kind of a crank-monster later in the day.

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HIGH: Exploring Funny Farm with a super excited 2-year-old and pug! Qman has visited Funny Farm a number of times over the years, but now that he’s a little older, it was SO COOL for him. The four of us explored every nook and cranny of the property!

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LOW: Murphy walking into a huge spider web and freaking the F out. Poor pug.

HIGH: Going to Kimball Farm for ice cream!

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It was so nice spending time with family!

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And Quinn loved Dada’s black & white frappe!

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The end.

Question of the Day

Your turn! Share a high and low moment from your Labor Day weekend! 


from Carrots 'N' Cake

Dear Mark: Salt Room Therapy; Can’t Sleep After Training

Welcome! If you want to lose weight, gain muscle, increase energy levels or just generally look and feel healthier you've come to the right place.

Here's where to start:

  1. Visit the Start Here and Primal Blueprint 101 pages to learn more about the Primal lifestyle.
  2. Subscribe to my weekly newsletter to receive an eBook called Primal Blueprint Fitness and more - all for free.
  3. Cut to the chase by visiting There you'll find books, food, and the best supplements on the planet to help you take control of your health for life.

Thanks for visiting!

Salt Room Therapy in lineFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two questions. First, what’s the deal with salt room therapy? Are there actual benefits, particularly for dermatological and respiratory conditions, to sitting inside a room as aerosolized salt wafts over you? Second, what can a reader do who absolutely can’t get to sleep after training at night?Postworkout insomnia is a real drag, and it will impede your gains, so this is an important topic. Luckily, there are a few things to try.

Let’s go:

Hi Mark,

Just wondering if you have any information on salt room therapy. These places are popping up all over Australia and I have seen good anecdotal evidence that they are terrific for skin and breathing issues. My granddaughter (1yr) has terrible eczema which I thought might be helped by salt therapy. Do you think there are any possible dangers involved? Either short or long term?

Thanks for your time,


Legend has it that ancient salt miners had such remarkable respiratory health that physicians of the time began prescribing visits to the salt caves for people with asthma and other respiratory conditions. As it turns out, a salt cave’s air is imbued with powdered sodium chloride, or clouds of salt. A salt therapy room recreates this “microclimate of the salt cave” by releasing aerosolized salt into the air. Proponents and a recent literature review say it improves respiratory health, treats asthma, reduces inflammation and swelling of the bronchial mucosa, hastens expectoration of mucus (and all the allergens found within said mucus), and can even treat dermatological conditions like psoriasis and dermatitis.

Most of the modern research into salt room therapy, also called halotherapy (from “halo,” Greek for salt), comes from Eastern Europe. It’s quite interesting but difficult to parse.

A PubMed search for “halotherapy psoriasis” produced a confusing Russian study that appears to show benefits for psoriasis patients. A 1993 paper found that among 112 children with atopic dermatitis treated with halotherapy, 58% reported a full recovery and 20% a partial recovery at 24 months. Another, earlier Russian paper reports the successful treatment of 216 pediatric bronchial asthma patients using halotherapy. A halotherapy institute in Belarus reports treating over 42,000 respiratory and allergic patients with a 97% success rate.

In 2013, 45 patients with tonsillar hypertrophy (the kind of hypertrophy you don’t want) received either halotherapy or placebo (spending time in a room that resembled the salt therapy room only without the aerosolized salt). 44% of the halotherapy group improved, while only 22% of the placebo group did. Moreover, the young patients enjoyed the halotherapy, considering it a “time for play rather than therapy.”

Most of the studies don’t seem to have control groups, and the language barrier (albeit via translations) makes it tough to analyze, but I’d say it’s worth a shot if it’s not too expensive and nothing else has worked.

Good luck and let me know how it goes.

Hi Mark,

I love working out – especially HIIT. I tend to work out between 7pm and 9:30pm after I leave the office. I have noticed that during weeks where my training is especially intense, I suffer from incredible insomnia. I do not want to stop training, but on the other hand, need to bring down my exercise-induced cortisol levels so I can catch some zzzs. Any suggestions on how I can do this naturally and safely?


Be the weirdo wearing blue-blocking goggles

The worst thing you can do for your sleep is to spend your evening under fluorescent lights with blaring music and two dozen big screen TVs beaming blue light directly into your eyes. Couple the heavy light-induced melatonin suppression with the stress hormones coursing through your veins from the constant training sans-respite and yeah, you won’t sleep well. Pick up a cheap pair of orange safety goggles and wear them to the gym for two weeks. See if it helps. I bet it will.

Train in the morning

Instead of losing 2.5 (and likely 3, with showers and such) hours every night to your workout, shift it to the morning. You can focus on establishing a nice, relaxing evening routine. You can read some fiction, chill out with friends or partners, have some tea, maybe some gelatin. Sure, you’ll have to wake up earlier, but you’ll be sleeping better, going to bed earlier, getting the workout over first thing, and that should free up enough sleep time for an earlier wakeup.

Gelatin before bed

Gelatin is a great source of glycine (the best, actually). Human studies show that 3 grams of glycine taken before bed increases the quality of your sleep and reduces daytime sleepiness following sleep restriction.

L-theanine before bed

While L-theanine hasn’t been definitively shown to reduce cortisol, it does induce relaxation and improve sleep quality (especially in hyperactive people). Go for 100-200 mg. You might also try Primal Calm, my anti-stress stack that includes L-theanine.

Look into anti-stress teas, herbs, and supplements

Browse these two posts for ideas.

Don’t make it worse with caffeine

Keep caffeine to the morning hours. Avoid pre-workouts that include caffeine if you intend on training at night.

Don’t train HIIT so much

HIIT, sprints, and related workouts work as an acute stressor: a massive dose of intensity that you need lots of time to recover from. If you try to make them a chronic stressor, something done every day or every other day, you’ll get diminishing returns and blowback from your adrenals. Your insomnia is blowback.

But at some point, you’ll have to just chill out and reassess your schedule. It sounds rather extreme to me.

Why are you training for two and a half hours at a time? Are you doing this every day? Why?

I’ve observed a funny thing: when something isn’t working, many people do the same thing even harder. Low-carb not working? Go even lower. Dropping 500 calories a day not helping your weight? Drop 1000! This can be a big mistake. That you feel the need to train so frequently and for so long suggests that you’re not getting the results you’d expect. Just remember that you don’t get fitter during a training session. You get fitter during your recovery from the training. If you’re doing HIIT every day, you aren’t recovering. You aren’t improving. And the lack of sleep will only hamper your recovery and adaptation even further.

That’s it for today, folks. If anyone has any tips for post-workout insomnia or experience with salt room therapy, let us know down below!

from Mark's Daily Apple

Food Fight: French Fries vs. Sweet Potato Fries

French fries aren’t generally considered health food, but there are many options to consider. Are you baking them, frying them or getting them at the drive-thru? Is it a healthier move to order the sweet spuds when they appear on the menu? Here are the real differences between traditional french fries and those made from sweet potatoes.

French Fries
Potatoes have a bad reputation, but they’re actually filled with good-for-you nutrients, including fiber and potassium. The calorie count is also relatively low, coming in at about 170 calories for a whole potato. Armed with this knowledge, you can easily see how a sliced and roasted spud with a drizzle of olive oil can be a healthy side dish.

If you hit up the freezer section for a bag of fries, every 3-ounce portion (about 12 pieces) contains 120 calories, 5 grams of fat and 300 milligrams of sodium — but who eats only 12? Fast-food fries can get you into even more trouble, with a medium-sized order averaging 400 calories and 17 grams of fat. Sodium levels can range from 300 to more than 1,200 milligrams, depending on how those fries are seasoned.

Sweet Potato Fries
One medium sweet potato contains slightly more calories, coming in at 183. These orange spuds are exploding with antioxidant-rich vitamin A and also contain equally hefty doses of fiber and potassium. Sweet potatoes contain about 15 grams more carbohydrates per serving, but that’s no reason to pass on these tubers; they can also make super-tasty and healthy baked fries.

The same 3-ounce serving of frozen sweet potato fries contains 140 calories, 5 grams of fat and typically less sodium than the regular fries. Sweet potato fries at a restaurant also land in the 400-calorie neighborhood, and the fat content also averages 20 grams; sodium can add up quickly.

Winner: Homemade and baked is always the way to go, and if that’s how you make your fries, mix it up with both white and sweet potatoes.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

from Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy...

Rosemary Roots + The Heritage Harvest Festival At Monticello

This post is sponsored by Monticello

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If you’re planning a visit to Charlottesville, this coming weekend would make a great time for a spontaneous visit. The 10th Annual Heritage Harvest Festival is happening at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello on Saturday September 10.

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The festival is a celebration of Jefferson’s legacy featuring talks and exhibits on gardening, food, sustainability, plants, seeds, and more. I had the chance to experience the festival last year as well as a preview event in 2014, and both years I had a great time exploring all the things that Jefferson loved. General admission tickets to the Saturday festival are $15.

On Friday Night, there’s an opening event downtown at the Paramount Theater featuring keynote speaker Chef Patrick O’Donnell from the Inn at Little Washington. (Someday I hope I can enjoy a meal there!) Following his talk, he’ll be joined by Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms (also known from “Food Inc.”!), Ira Wallace of the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and culinary historian Michael Twitty. The reception afterwards will showcase local food in chef-created dishes. Tickets to the opening are $65, but I have a special $10 off code for you guys! Use VEG16 at checkout.

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In preparation for this year’s event I was invited to Jefferson’s garden, a stunning and well-maintained tribute to his love for exotic and unusual plants. My host was Pat Brodowski, one of Monticello’s gardeners, and she give me a history lesson and a taste adventure all in one.

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We tasted many kinds of beans, ate prickly gherkin cucumbers, and plucked salsify straight from the earth as we perused our way through the 24 square garden plots that Jefferson established.

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The gardeners at Monticello aim to replicate the historical methods of Jefferson’s time, including the contributions of the enslaved people who would have tended to the gardens. I admire their efforts to tell all sides of the story.


Pat sent me home with a basket full of some of the most reverent vegetables in the country. What is it about rustic, imperfect, dirty vegetables that is so beautiful?!

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With my bounty I made this roasted rosemary roots recipe as the perfect harvest side dish.


Included in the mix were sugar beets, which I had never tried before. I loved that they had the beet taste without me having to worry about all the purple juice stain. I also came home with a rainbow of carrots and couldn’t wait to roast them together with fresh rosemary.

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Finally, I picked up this Hickory Syrup at the Monticello Shop, and loved the subtle hickory flavor throughout the recipe.

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This was some of the most fragrant rosemary I’ve encountered!


Simply spread onto a pan and roast at 425 degrees for about an hour.

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And serve with wine, as Jefferson would have done.


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Rosemary Roots


Ingredients (Big bowl of roots)

  • 10 multicolored carrots, sliced diagonally into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 sugar beets, sliced in uniform bite-sized pieces
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, about 1 heaped tbsp chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp hickory maple syrup (or just regular)
  • 2 tsp flake salt


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine chopped roots and rosemary in a big bowl and toss with olive oil, syrup, and flake salt.
  3. Spread onto sheet pan and roast for 1 hour, or until fork tender.
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So if you’re anywhere near Charlottesville this weekend, I hope to see you at the festival!

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Thanks to Monticello for sponsoring a post and all the inspiration!

from Kath Eats Real Food