Combining red peppers and chickpeas creates a tag-team effect that helps boost energy levels.

As two major sources of folate, combining red peppers and chickpeas creates a tag-team effect that helps boost energy levels. Chickpeas are one of the richest whole-food sources of folate, but a one-cup serving still falls short of meeting your daily needs. Red peppers pick up where the chickpeas leave off to help supply nearly a day’s worth of folate. Folate facilitates red blood cell production, essential for carrying oxygen to working muscles.

Chickpeas also supply iron, another nutrient needed for oxygen flow, but the iron from chickpeas is best absorbed with the help of vitamin C. Thankfully, a medium-sized red pepper offers 377 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin C. Talk about team work. To top it off, research has shown that a combination of red peppers plus chickpeas (and all beans for that matter) can help improve blood sugar levels, decrease fat storage and, what’s most rewarding, increase glycogen storage for more immediate energy during your workouts.

Red Pepper Chickpea Salad

Serves: 4

Ready in: 2 hours and 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 15-oz cans chickpeas
  • 3 red bell peppers, finely diced
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped (about 1 bunch)
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped (about 1/2 bunch)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Dash sea salt and freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rinse chickpeas thoroughly to remove excess sodium.
  2. Toss together all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge to allow flavors to meld.

Nutrients per serving: Calories: 264, Total Fats: 6 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 12 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 40 g, Dietary Fiber: 11 g, Sugars: 3 g, Protein: 13 g, Iron: 4 mg

Beans are notorious for causing flatulence. For some people, lentils can do the same. Try these following tips to prevent gas.

  • Always sort and rinse them before cooking. Sort legumes by spreading them over a white cutting board; sift through each bean and discard those that are discolored or excessively dirty.
  • Soak them overnight, or for at least 8 hours. This also helps to decrease the cooking time.
  • Don’t cook them in the water you used to soak them. Using fresh cooking water and cooking them decreases the gas-producing sugars.
  • Canned beans tend to cause less gas. Choose the low-salt or no-salt-added varieties, and look for BPA-free cans.
  • Take a digestive aid, like Beano, to help you digest gassy sugars.
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day.

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Looking for something to keep you feeling full? Turn to fiber. Here’s an apple shake that provides almost half your daily needs.

Bulk up, belly down! Aim for 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day from fruits and vegetables. On a daily basis, most North American women get only about half the recommended amount. This shake will help you reach your goal.

Rise & Shine Apple Shake

Ready in: 5 minutes

Makes: 1 serving

  • 1 small apple, cored, chopped into chunks (skin left on)
  • ¼ cup dried, pitted prunes
  • 1 tablespoon all-natural peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon minced ginger root
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • ¾ cup cold water

Blend ingredients until smooth.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): Calories: 390; Total Fats: 9 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Trans Fat: 0 g; Cholesterol: 35 mg; Sodium: 50 mg; Carbohydrates: 60 g; Fiber: 10 g; Sugar: 37 g; Protein: 22 g; Iron: 1 mg

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Bison Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground bison
  • 1/2 cup white onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp black olives, diced
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp basil
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 jar (24 oz) unsalted tomato sauce (organic, if possible)

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix together with your hands.
  2. In a large, deep frying pan, heat oil on medium heat. While oil is warming, form golf-ball size meatballs.
  3. Put the meatballs into the pan, cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then flip. Turn them every 2 to 3 minutes to brown the sides.
  4. Lower heat to medium, pour sauce over meatballs and cover. Cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes stirring occasionally until thoroughly cooked.

Nutrients per serving (makes 4 servings): Calories: 380, Total Fats: 22 g, Saturated Fat: 8 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 80 mg, Sodium: 220 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 19 g, Dietary Fiber: 3 g, Sugars: 9 g, Protein: 24 g, Iron: 4 mg

“Bison is by far my favorite meat to use because it is leaner than chicken, packed with protein and tastes like filet mignon. Try this with a side of broccoli or on a whole wheat sub.” – Taylor Ryan, Oxygen reader.

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Bikini-Ready Soup

Ready in: 45 minutes

Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 2 – 4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 2 large pieces of fresh ginger, finely diced
  • Chili powder or fresh chili, to taste
  • 1/2 large avocado
  • 1 lb cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 handfuls fresh spinach
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Chop celery and onion into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a nonstick pan. Saute onions until soft, then add the celery, garlic, ginger and chili. Simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, puree the avocado in a food processor. Remove and set aside.
  4. Add the tomatoes, stock and water into the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  5. Pour the entire soup into a food processor and puree until smooth. Then add the soup back into the pan; simmer on low heat to warm through.
  6. Stir in the avocado puree and spinach to thicken soup. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to make sure all the fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed.

Nutrients per serving: Calories: 70, Total Fats: 4 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 80 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 9 g, Dietary Fiber: 4 g, Sugars: 4 g, Protein: 2 g, Iron: 1 mg

This soup is full of vitamins and disease-fighting antioxidants plus liver-loving foods (ginger, garlic, celery, and onions) that help your body burning fat. – Carina Hultin Dahlmann, Oxygen reader

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Bean Brownies

Ready in: 45 minutes

Makes: 20 servings

Ingredients

Dry

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup Sucanat

Wet

  • 1 cup canned or boiled black beans, drained and mashed
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened applesauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8″x8″ baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  3. In another smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
  4. Add the bean mixture to dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly until ingredients are well combined. Pour batter into pan.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Insert a knife into the center – if it comes out clean, your brownies are ready.

Fit Fact: Sucanat is pure dried sugar cane juice. It undergoes less processing and is slightly more nutritious than white or brown sugar, as it retains the mineral-rich molasses, which is normally stripped from refined sweeteners. It’s a bit pricier than white sugar, but it’s worth the splurge for producing clean baked treats.

Tip: Instead of mashing the boiled beans, blend them in a food processer to get a smoother consistency for the batter – and keep them inconspicuous in the final product.

Nutrients per serving: Calories: 90, Total Fats: 5 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 20 mg, Sodium: 55 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 10 g, Dietary Fiber: 2 g, Sugars: 3 g, Protein: 3 g, Iron: 1 mg

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