What’s a Phytonutrient?
Phytonutrients are the beneficial components in plants that help fight off disease and prevent the damaged caused by free radicals and toxins in our environment. They protect the plants themselves from potentially harmful factors such as UV light, pests, fungus, and parasites. The protective quality of phytonutrients extends to us when we eat these plants, which translates into the prevention of heart disease, diabetes, and other inflammatory diseases.
When plants are exposed to a threat, they fight back by producing these wonderful chemicals. It follows logically and has been scientifically studied and proven that the use of pesticides and herbicides allows plants to “let their guards down” and stop producing as much and as many of these beneficial substances. Conventional produce contains far fewer phytonutrients than organic produce.
Antioxidants are phytonutrients.
Carotenoids are phytonutrients.
Flavonoids are phytonutrients.
Today I’m going to share some easy, useful, and simple-to-implement shopping and cooking hacks to help you increase your intake of phytonutrients.
Maximizing Your Phytonutrient Intake
If you haven’t had a chance to check out Jo Robinson’s new book Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health, it’s high time you check it out. There are so many awesome little tidbits in this wonderful book explaining how our food isn’t quite what it used to be, and what we can do about it. It outlines the origins of domesticated plants and makes the argument that the “5 a day” recommendation of typical fruits and veggies simply won’t cut it anymore. Instead, you need to know which fruits and veggies to eat to really max out that phytonutrient count and reach optimal health.
There’s no way that I could “give away” the plethora of valuable information that you’ll find between the pages of this book, but I took it upon myself to extract some of my favorite goodies — tips and hacks you can put to use today to start upping your phytonutrient count and improving your health.
6 Shopping Hacks to Increase Your Phytonutrients:
- Choose granny smith. It has the highest phytonutrient content and the best sugar-to-fiber ratio. Great for the heart and the whole body too. The golden delicious apple has the fewest phytonutrients of any of the other varieties, and has so much sugar that it can increase your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Replace salt with herbs and spices. Herbs and spices are as nutritious as the wild foods of our ancestors, packed full of a wide range of phytonutrients. They are a great substitute for extra salt and can provide wonderful, rich flavor to any dish.
- Opt for red lettuce and other leafy greens. Red lettuce is the king of lettuces, according to Robinson, as that red color indicates a very high antioxidant content. Additionally, the internal leaves of the head lettuce never see the sunlight, so they don’t generate phytonutrients to protect themselves from the UV rays. Leafy lettuces that flare out and are exposed to the sun have a greater supply of nutrition.
- Go green. Green onions have 100x more phytonutrients than bulb onions that grow underground. The green part is the richest portion, so chop it up and use it all!
- Berries over bananas. Like the golden delicious apple, the farmed banana is much higher in sugar than in phytonutrients and fiber. Berries have a better sugar-to-fiber ratio, and their deep color indicate a high level of phytonutrients. If you can find wild berries, you’ll get even more bang for your buck! Some grocery stores sell frozen wild blueberries, and if you live in the Bay Area, you’re about to start seeing wild blackberries all over the place. Eat up! Robinson recommends that we shoot for eating 1/2 a cup of berries a day.
- Opt for yams. White potatoes are very starchy without a lot of fiber to mitigate the glycemic load. The orange color of the yam indicates a high carotenoid count, and you’ll find more fiber there too.
4 Kitchen Hacks to Increase Your Phytonutrients:
- Don’t boil your veggies — you end up throwing out the nutrition with the water. All other types of cooking are superior to boiling most vegetables (artichokes are the exception, but even then steaming is better than boiling). Stir frying is a great way to go, because you don’t lose the water soluble nutrients the way you would if you boiled or steamed.
- Tear your greens a day in advance. The leaves are still alive in your fridge (in fact, asparagus can grow another inch or two in the grocery store or in your fridge), and if you tear them, it sends a signal for them to repair themselves. That means the torn plants are creating more antioxidants to protect what’s been torn.
- Let your chopped garlic sit for 10 minutes before you heat it. This is my favorite kitchen hack. We’ve all heard that garlic is great for cardiovascular health and cancer prevention, right? Well the chemical responsible for that protection in us is called allicin. As with the torn lettuce, the allicin count increases exponentially if you chop the garlic and let it sit. If you expose your chopped garlic to heat immediately, the allicin content is next to nothing. That 10 minutes makes all the difference.
- Thaw frozen berries in the microwave to prevent the loss of antioxidants that would take place in a counter- or fridge-thaw. This is the one and only time I recommend choosing the microwave to a more old-school method of heating or defrosting. For some reason, the quick thaw preserves the nutrition far better than a slow melt.
These hacks are so easy, I challenge you to try them out TONIGHT as you cook your dinner. Chop the garlic first and leave it out for 10 minutes before tossing it into the flames. Tear your salad greens tonight for tomorrow’s meals. Throw a few berries, fresh herbs and chopped green onions in that salad too! Let me know how it goes!
Originally posted on Cultivated Wellbeing.
Toni Sicola is the Wellness Program Manager at Alameda Health System (AHS) and an Integrative Wellbeing and Nutrition Expert at Cultivated Wellbeing. You can find more health and wellness tips from Toni at www.cultivatedwellbeing.com, where she explores the how the intersection of food, personal fulfillment and creativity affect wellbeing. She also manages and is the primary contributor for the AHS Passport to a Healthy Me! blog. When not writing, Toni is feeding her passions of cooking, gardening, rock climbing, creating and playing with her dog Dexter.
A lot more flavorful and healthy than anything you could buy at the supermarket, these sweet treats are something you can keep on hand for breakfast, lunch or any time of day.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- 1 cup sweet potato puree, cooked*
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Place the first 7 ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.
- In a separate bowl whisk the remaining ingredients.
- Slowly combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients just until they are combined (be careful not to over mix the batter).
- Place 1 tbsp of batter in each cup of greased mini muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes.
- * To make sweet potato puree, bake sweet potatoes (or yams) in a 400 degree oven for one hour, allow to cool, slice in half lengthwise and mash flesh with a fork until smooth.
Recipe compliments of weelicious.com.
Do you take a look at your tongue in the morning? You should! It is a great indicator of your state of health, and specifically the state of your digestion. In Ayurveda, tongue analysis is a main diagnosing tool to determine someone’s current state of imbalance. Your tongue speaks in more ways than you’ve realized!
Digestion is #1 for good health
When our digestion is impaired, food is not absorbed efficiently and leaves behind a raw, toxic residue that Ayurveda calls ama. You may see some of that whitish, sticky, gooey substance on your tongue in the morning. Yuck. I know. But hey, on the other hand isn’t that great that you can just stick your tongue out and get instant feedback on the state of your digestion? Digestion is HUGE when it comes to your energy level, immunity, moods, skin health, elimination, quality of your tissues…everything! So much so that Ayurveda says you are what you digest. Not what you eat. Subtle, yet big difference.
If allowed to build up in your GI tract, this toxic substance eventually starts circulating throughout your body, potentially clogging the channels of circulation and preventing flow of nutrients, oxygen and life force to all tissues. Hence the line “Ama is the Mama!” (coined by one of my teachers, Doctor Chauhan, BAMS) which means ama creates many, if not most dis-eases.
How do I know if I have ama accumulation?
Here are signs you may have some ama build-up:
- Feeling heavy
- Feeling lethargic, foggy, unclear
- Thick coating on the tongue in the morning
- Feeling tired after eating
- Stiff and painful joints
- Poor circulation
- Skin blemishes
- Bad breath
It’s undeniable that we live in an increasingly toxic world and that at least some cleansing is necessary to keep our bodies and minds functioning optimally. Read on for simple things you can do daily to begin releasing ama.
Easy ways to release ama:
1. Scrape your tongue first thing in the morning. You really don’t want to swallow that toxic residue back in! Use a tongue scraper NOT your toothbrush (which would be pushing ama deeper into your tongue).
2. Have a glass of hot lime water. Cleanses the entire GI tact and will promote a bowel movement.
3. Eat only when hungry! This is a very important recommendation. Eating when not hungry is a sure way to create ama and feel sluggish. So if you’re not hungry for breakfast, skip it. if you’re still not hungry at lunchtime, skip it. Not hungry at dinner time? Skip it! You’ll do your digestive system a big favor. In fact, I suggest you wait until you are really hungry to eat your next meal. You might be surprised how long you wait! This is a simple and effective way to reset your metabolism and feel lighter in no time. (Once you do get really hungry, please DO eat! Not eating when hungry induces a stress-response and the slowing down of your metabolism, which then slows down your digestion and you guessed it, causes the formation of ama).
4. Strengthen your digestive fire by sipping on ginger tea in between meals. The light and spicy qualities of ginger are ideal to kindle your digestive fire (a must to keep ama from forming in the first place).
So which practice are you going to try first? Because they are all gentle I suggest you implement all of them!
Sylvie Barthelemy draws upon her 16 years of experience in the field of holistic health to help people achieve optimum health, naturally. She is a Certified Ayurvedic Lifestyle Coach, with extensive experience as an Ayurvedic massage therapist and as a Yoga and Meditation Teacher. Sylvie particularly loves to help women who feel stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted to generate calm, clear and confident energy, using yogic and ayurvedic methods of healing. Visit her personal website HERE.
Sitting down in peace and quiet can be very difficult. This day in age, people are constantly preoccupied with so many other distractions such as phones, computers and televisions that it is easy to forget what it’s like to simply sit and be in your own company. When you choose to start a meditation practice, whether it be to relax, to reconnect yourself with your breath, or to connect with higher dimensions, it is important to first create the space so that your practice can be as nourishing and beneficial as possible. Here are a few tips, some of which seem obvious but are still important nonetheless, to void your space of distractions in order to enjoy your practice in peace.
- Choose a room which you use less often than others. Typically, a room which gets used less will be quieter and automatically have a minimal amount of distraction. Think of using rooms like the dining room, the living room which nobody is allowed to go in unless you have company, or a spare bedroom.
- Turn off all electronics. This includes the TV and your phone and any other pieces of equipment that can possibly cause distraction. These items must be turned completely off. When they are on, even if they are silenced, it creates a space for anxiety to enter the mind. In addition, the electromagnetic field distributed by technology while functioning makes it very hard to relax. When the technology is off, you are affirming to your higher intelligence that you are ready to sit, relax, and meditate with no distractions. If you choose, you may have gentle music playing in the opposite side of the room.
- Set up a small timer on the opposite side of the room if you want to meditate for a specific amount of time or if you are in a time crunch. Preferably, the notice sound of the alarm will not be too violent – perhaps some nice bell sounds. Having a timer grounds you and reassures you that you can go as deep into your meditation as you want without having to worry about getting to your next engagement on time.
- The room should be dimly lit. This will help direct your attention and focus inwards, rather than into the room in which you are sitting.
- Get comfortable. This is by far the most important step. A few minutes into a meditation practice, the mind calms and begins to become aware of all of the distractions and aches and pains in the body. Sitting on a cushion for many people is still uncomfortable. In this case, sit comfortably in an upright chair (folding chairs work well) with the soles of your feet on the ground. Have a blanket nearby in case you get chilly.
Remember: meditation is not something you do. Meditation is a state of being, of dwelling in the here and now with each breath. If you get distracted, softly acknowledge the distraction and then return to simply breathing. Soon you will have a thriving meditation practice which you look forward to every day to help you relax, renew and reconnect!
Matthew Mitlas is a certified Yoga instructor at the 200 hour level. His classes invite a steady stream of consciousness that envelops all types of movement and keeps the mind steady and focused. He is currently influenced by the alignment principles of Anusara Yoga and the meditative aspect of Kripalu Yoga. Matthew works to co-create the conditions and space where his students may experience an authentic and inward experience of Yoga-learning to surrender to the infinite creativity of the universe as it takes form in each and every body in its own unique way. Namsate!
Matthew currently teaches Yoga classes at R3 Wellness Center, located in Collegeville, PA. In addition to Yoga, R3 Wellness center offers a plethora of holistic health services including Massage, Reiki, Acupuncture, Pranic Healing, Belly Dancing, Past Life Regressions, Life Coaching, and more! They can be found online at www.r3wellnesscenter.com.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 ounces lean ground sirloin (or substitute ground turkey)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups lower-sodium marinara sauce (such as McCutcheon’s)
- 2 ounces pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds cauliflower, cut into florets
- Cooking spray
- 1 ounce French bread baguette, torn into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in beef. Sprinkle with salt and peppers, and sauté 3 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in sauce and olives.
- Preheat broiler.
- Steam cauliflower 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Place cauliflower in an 11 x 7 inch broiler-safe baking dish coated with cooking spray; top with sauce mixture.
- Place bread in a mini chopper; pulse until coarse crumbs form. Combine crumbs and cheese; sprinkle over cauliflower mixture. Broil 4 minutes or until browned.
Recipe compliments of myrecipes.com.
What happens on your face is often a reflection of what’s happening inside your body, so you want to make sure you’re taking care of yourself all around. How you feel about yourself when you look in the mirror every day will inform the way you interface with the world. Do you love what you see? Would you love it more if you didn’t have a breakout across your left cheek? Do you think you’ve tried everything?
Today I want to share the top 3 mistakes that people make when they are struggling to clear their skin, why they should change their ways to gain noticeably clearer skin and what to do instead. I’m all about solutions here, so let’s get started!
1. Quit depleting your skin from its natural oils by stripping them away with harsh cleansers and astringents.
Why? If you’re concerned about acne, drying your skin out simply encourages MORE sebum production, making the problem WORSE than it was to begin with — more black heads, more shine when you don’t want it. If you’re concerned about wrinkles, you want to remain hydrated and nourish your skin at a deep level.
What to do instead:
Cleanse with gentle, natural products you might not think should be in your bathroom. Raw honey is a great cleanser and gentle exfoliator, and coconut oil is great at removing make up and keeping the skin hydrated. It’s also naturally antiseptic, so it’s great for preventing infection on a “picked” blemish.
2. Quit picking
Why? Picking, especially if you aren’t using something sterile to pick with (your fingernails are NOT sterile), spreads the infection around on your skin and can cause a bigger breakout. Also, your skin is almost always worse-off once you’ve extracted the pimple — in its place, you’ve likely left either a bloody mess or something that will become a larger, more painful, more infected blemish the next day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve extracted a small blackhead and woken up the next morning to a red, raised bump in its place.
What to do instead:
Cleanse well, use a good natural moisturizer like coconut oil, and leave it alone. Just don’t look in the mirror when you wash your hands in the bathroom — that’s my moment of weakness.
3. Quit eating garbage
Why? The food you eat matters for the health of your skin. If you eat sugar, pasteurized conventional dairy, and other inflammatory foods like processed seed oils and soy, your skin won’t be happy.
Don’t forget, your skin is the largest organ on your body, and it acts as a filter for everything that you come into contact with. What you put in and how your body reacts to it is reflected on your face. Check out my secret to clear skin in two weeks, a solution that was all about input.
What to do instead:
Treat your skin well by taking care of your diet and your gut. Eat fermented foods or take a probiotic. Drink bone broth, pack in the vegetables at every meal of the day. Enjoy healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, and grass-fed butter.
Originally posted on Cultivated Wellbeing.
Toni Sicola is the Wellness Program Manager at Alameda Health System (AHS) and an Integrative Wellbeing and Nutrition Expert at Cultivated Wellbeing. You can find more health and wellness tips from Toni at www.cultivatedwellbeing.com, where she explores the how the intersection of food, personal fulfillment and creativity affect wellbeing. She also manages and is the primary contributor for the AHS Passport to a Healthy Me! blog. When not writing, Toni is feeding her passions of cooking, gardening, rock climbing, creating, and playing with her dog Dexter.
Taking a probiotic supplement offers many health benefits such as improved digestion, immunity and elimination. Below are some of the benefits I have found in my research:
- Digestion – Probiotics produce enzymes such as protease, lipase, and lactase to further assist with protein and fat digestion as well as reduce problems associated with lactose intolerance. Probiotics also produce B vitamins, particularly folic acid and B12, which are biocatalysts in food digestion.
- Immunity – Intestinal microbes are a key factor in the development of the post-natal immune system and in acquired immune response and inflammation. Probiotics produce the natural antibiotic-like substance acidophilin and inhibit the growth of opportunistic microorganisms.
- Elimination – Probiotics act as natural stool softeners and facilitate the healthy and timely elimination of waste.
Here’s what to look for when selecting a probiotic:
The best general-purpose probiotic supplements combine several species of beneficial bacteria with a competitive yeast strain. Look for supplements that contain bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus species such as L. acidophilus in the billions. The number of colony-forming units (CFU’s) your probiotic should contain is 25+ billion speicies.
- Look for inclusion of a prebiotic, such as FOS or inulin. We prefer inulin because it may have a less “sugary” effect on women who are prone to yeast infections. For those with more serious digestive issues, start with a probiotic that doesn’t include prebiotics or yeast.
- If there are no prebiotics included, you may wish to select an enteric-coated probiotic, as this enhances its ability to pass through the acidic environment of the stomach and small bowel to dissolve in the large intestines. (Many species of lactobacilli, bifidobacteria and streptococci reportedly survive this passage intact, however.)
- To ensure product purity, safety and quality, look for a supplement made in a GMP-compliant facility that is certified by the NSF. These acronyms should also appear on the packaging.
- Ideally, we’d be getting all the prebiotics and probiotics we need from our diet, but this is not always possible.
What are Prebiotics?
Certain foods are rich in fiber molecules called prebiotics, factors which nourish friendly GI flora and set the stage for probiotic survival. Prebiotics help probiotics survive passage through the acidity of the stomach and small intestine, and foster their growth in the intestines and colon.
These are natural sugar molecules found primarily in all kinds of plant foods (bananas, artichoke, chicory root, burdock, onions, leeks, fruit, soybeans, sweet potatoes, asparagus, green tea); but also honey and cultured foods (kefir, cottage cheese, sauer kraut, yogurt).
Dr. Scott Dubrul has since been practicing Chiropractic for 20 years. Currently, his chiropractic practice is located in San Luis Obispo, CA near Cal Poly University. In 2005, Dr. Dubrul became Wellness Certified through the International Chiropractic Association. With this wellness training he is able to offer a true Holistic approach to attaining wellness.
As a chiropractor, Dr. Dubral understands and teaches the scientific truth that the body is self-regulating and self-healing. It is simply a matter of finding any interference to this healing process and helping remove it so the body can take the control back. Visit the website for his practice in San Luis Obispo, CA HERE.
Substituting Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise and heavy cream that a Waldorf Salad usually calls for makes this recipe much healthier, but still just as tasty!
- 1/2 cup nonfat vanilla-flavoured Greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 tsp honey mustard
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 2 4-oz chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
- 1 large head of romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
- 2 Red Delicious apples, unpeeled, cored, and chopped
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
- 1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
- To make the dressing, combine the yogurt, honey mustard, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Toss chicken, apples, celery, walnuts and cranberries in a large bowl. Add dressing and mix well. Serve over a bed of lettuce and sprinkle with parsley.
Recipe compliments of TheFitHousewife.
By now you likely know how detrimental highly processed, granulated white sugar is to your health. If you need a refresher, here are some of the many ways white sugar wreaks havoc on your biochemistry, courtesy of UCSF’s Dr. Robert Lustig, a crusader against sugar and author of Fat Chance:
- Sugar contributes to obesity
- Sugar contributes to insulin resistance and diabetes
- Sugar is addictive and toxic
- Sugar makes you want to eat more—and move less!
If sugar is this harmful, it makes good sense to minimize or eliminate it altogether. But some occasions just call for a sweet treat! In those instances, you CAN have your cake and eat it too—with these 5 sweet, all-natural alternatives:
Raw honey has myriad health-promoting qualities. It contains natural antioxidants, although the quantity does vary across varieties (buckwheat honey reportedly delivers the most). Honey is also chock-full of enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Note that baking with raw honey will destroy many of the nutrients in honey. If you want to use it to flavor your tea or coffee, wait until your beverage has cooled enough to drink.
Sugar substitute: In dressings, and slaws; warm beverages
2. Blackstrap Molasses
Blackstrap molasses is a sweetener that is actually good for you—it’s high in antioxidants and several health-promoting trace minerals that are difficult to find in other foods, such as: iron, calcium, copper, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. Opt for unsulphured blackstrap molasses as it doesn’t contain the processing chemical to which some people are sensitive. Unsulphured means it’ll have a cleaner and more clarified taste.
Sugar substitute: Use in place of brown sugar or when you want to impart a slightly smoky flavor. Great in baked beans and gingerbread.
3. Coconut Sugar
Proponents argue coconut sugar tends to be less refined than granulated sugar; they say it also contains minerals like magnesium, potassium zinc and iron. In addition, coconut sugar has been touted to have a lower glycemic index than the uber-refined white stuff, which means that it can cause a less dramatic spike in blood sugar. Since studies on this sugar are largely unavailable, you need to take these claims with a grain of salt. As always, moderation is key!
Sugar substitute: Can be used as a 1:1 substitute for sugar in baking and cooking. You can also find it in syrup form; in that case, adjust your measurement in baking to ¾ cup for 1 cup sugar, reduce liquid by 2 tbsp for each cup and reduce cooking temperature by 25ºF.
4. Date Sugar
This may be the rock star of the group. Made from ground dates, this sweetener delivers all the nutrients in dates, including potassium and calcium—and is similar in healthful polyphenols as green tea! But that’s just part of the story: Date sugar is also low in calories, helpful for constipation and makes you feel full longer. Look for varieties that have one ingredient only.
Sugar substitute: Yummy in bars and cookies, substitute this way: for every one cup of sugar, use 2/3 cup of date sugar.
Derived from a plant with sweet leaves, it doesn’t get much more natural than this. The glycosides in the leaves of the Stevia Rebaudiana plant account for its incredible sweetness.
Stevia is calorie-free, and the powdered concentrate is 300 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia is widely used all over the world and is becoming more commonly found in the U.S. Stevia can help keep blood sugar levels in check and despite being very sweet, it doesn’t contribute to cavities.
Sugar substitute: A little stevia goes a LONG way. A fraction of the amount and you’ll have ample sweetness. You can even grow your own!
Above all, for optimal health, try to keep your sugar consumption down to 15-25 grams per day. This means you may have to stop at one cookie, but it doesn’t mean you need to cut out all of the sweetness from your life.
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The following recipe is sweetened only with fruit – no sugar is needed. Even if you do opt to use sugar in yours, the amount will be much less than is found in most store-bought bars (and no high fructose corn syrup!).
They are perfect for a lunchbox and are also great for on-the-go snacking, and you can easily freeze leftovers for up to 2 months.
- 1/2 cup applesauce or mashed banana (120g)
- 1/4 cup chocolate hazelnut spread or Homemade Healthy Nutella (60g)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (4g)
- packed 1/3 cup dried dates (55g)
- 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts (35g)
- 1/2 cup puffed wheat or puffed rice (9g)
- 1/2 cup rolled oats (45g)
- 1/8 tsp plus 1/16 tsp salt
- pinch pure stevia, or 1 1/2 tbsp sugar of choice
Preheat oven to 325 F and line an 8-in square baking pan with parchment paper. In a bowl, stir together the applesauce and chocolate hazelnut spread until smooth. Stir in the vanilla, then set the bowl aside. In a food processor, combine the dried fruit and hazelnuts until they form fine crumbles. Pour into a large mixing bowl and stir together with all remaining dry ingredients. Add the nutella mixture and stir until evenly combined, then smooth into the prepared baking pan and cover with another sheet of parchment paper. Press down VERY firmly. Bake 26 minutes, then allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing into bars. Frost with more chocolate hazelnut spread if desired.
Recipe compliments of chocolatecoveredkatie.