Bite-size, Fiber-filled Snack?! Here’s a No-Bake Recipe to try!

Fiber is a source of prebiotics (food for our good gut bacteria) that is often not emphasized enough in our food plans. We hear about the different macronutrients: Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats and numerous micronutrients. We can also name off a variety of vitamins and minerals. So where does “FIBER” fall? Doesn’t it simply pass right through our gastrointestinal tract or is there more to it?!

The answer is… there is absolutely more to it! Just to introduce a fiber-filled snack recipe in this article, we’d like to briefly describe the importance of fiber. Simply put, the Standard American Diet does not provide even a fraction of the amount of fiber our bodies need! Men and women alike should aim to get at least 30 grams of fiber each day. Why is this so important? In fact, fiber is actually a type of carbohydrate, and we all know that not all carbs are created equally. Although not absorbable, FIBER is much MORE than just excrement or a stool-bulking, anti-constipating agent!

As human beings, our microbiome is established when we are born but continues to develop and modify throughout the course of our lifetime. It is largely affected by exactly what we put into our mouth. It’s now understood that our gut bacteria can actually promote health or create illness, depending on the balance between good vs. bad gut flora. Fiber is our microbiome’s favorite prebiotic! Unhealthy eating habits are one of the main contributing factors to the growth of bad bacteria in our gut. Therefore, it is essential to eat a variety of high-fiber plant sources daily, which will promote the growth of good bacteria in our gut!

Fiber is the fuel for our microbiome! Our gut bacteria digest the fiber in the plant-foods we eat and release a litany of antioxidants, vitamins, and Small Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs support our immune system to fight infections and reduce inflammation in our gut by constantly working to repair the gut lining. They are the dominant energy source of our colon!

In this recipe, each energy bite is filled with fiber from sources of ground flaxseed, oats, almond/sunflower butter, and chia seeds (optional). The recipe is super simple to reproduce and you can be creative with any additional fiber-rich ingredients! [Consider using a zip-lock bag to roll each bite to avoid the mess when rolling them]. Enjoy these delicious bites and feel charged with energy and be fiber-fueled!

NO-BAKE ENERGY FIBER BITES Recipe can be downloaded in PDF below

What’s for BREAKFAST?! Check out this recipe!

Breakdown the word “BREAK-FAST”. As you can already see, it simply means breaking a fast! Some people choose to do so earlier in the day while others choose a later time for breakfast. No matter when you choose to break your fast, the best way to do so is by fueling your body with something nutritious when you break this fast and continue on with your day, fully-charged!

Have you ever consider having a daily staple for breakfast? What is your favorite go-to or grab-and-go?! For those who like to bake in advance or meal-prep, this would be an opportunity to try out a new recipe.

Now, here’s your chance to pack in as much fiber and nutrients into your very own baked bars! Learn this staple recipe that I modified from the original recipe of “banana bread”. It will be a great to-go snack or your very own morning nutrient-dense breakfast!

See this colorful plate of breakfast with my Banana-oat bar! The recipe is downloadable in PDF BELOW!

A colorful plate of fruits and vegetables surrounding a delicious piece of baked Banana-Oat bar (from red bell peppers packed with Vitamin C that supports the immune system and dark purple grapes full of Anthocyanins that destroy free radicals to fiber-filled avocados and nutrient-dense orange persimmons just in season!)

If you’d like to try out the recipe, download the PDF below!

Nutrition: What’s in it for me?

A Nutrition Focus

Every time you put something into your mouth, you can think of it as a chance to promote your health or destroy your body. As an old saying goes, “genetics load the gun and lifestyle pulls the trigger.” Every individual is different in the way we metabolize foods, fiber, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. One thing is true for nearly everyone though, a balanced nutrition plan with natural sources of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber will enhance our health and recovery, and improve our output in all aspects of our performance.

A good place to start is by watching the colors we eat and focus on the diversity of plants and fruits every time we take a bite! We must control the food that goes into our body each time we have the opportunity to eat or snack. After all, we are what we eat; more importantly, we are also what we digest, absorb, and able to get rid of! So, choose wisely… and ASK: “What’s in it for me?”

There is such an abundance of “diets” out there. Lots of sources are aiming to get our attention, and a vast majority of them give us false hope. They simply want to give us good news about our bad habits and/or offer impossible ways to eat which set us up for failure or social self-detachment (e.g. I can’t eat with my family, can’t eat out, can’t spontaneously enjoy a meal with friends, etc).

After all is said and done, it is always our choices in the end that determines our results.

The foods that we choose to put into our mouths have the opportunity to give us our life back. Therefore, choose more vegetables and fruits and fill up our plate or bowl at least halfway with vegetables/fruits (see photos taken as samples below).

It is crucial to incorporate a wide array of colors from vegetables and fruits from various groups throughout our day. These colors will help promote healing to every organ in the body, which help us achieve optimal health and eventually influence every facet of our lives.

Some tips for starting your nutritious journey:

  1. Eat whole foods instead of packaged and/or processed foods; vegetables should be the largest part of your food plan.
  2. The best way to start eating fresh and sustainably is by eating with the season. Certain foods grow in specific geographic regions at any given time of year. Be willing to try a new plant food (vegetable/fruit/legume/seed/nut/ whole grain/spices) and eat more variety of colors!
  3. Stock up on canned organic beans and frozen fruits or vegetables for easy cooking. Note that some foods are more nutritious frozen or cooked while others are best eaten fresh or raw.
  4. Go to the grocery store on a full stomach and shop the perimeter; select produce first!
  5. Use the fresh/easily-perishable foods first while saving the heartier/hardier ones for later in the week. Keep fruits readily available for snacks or desserts!
  6. Have dishes with lots of variety of colorful vegetables; choose darker over lighter to maximize nutrient contents!
  7. Treat meats of all kinds as a condiment, not as a main course (this may differ if you are on a high-protein gaining cycle or competing in a strength sport/competition). Fishes are fine if they are wild-caught and low-mercury; avoid large predatory fishes which are highest in mercury levels. Remember the “SMASH” acronym for healthy, low-mercury fish options: Salmons, Mackerels, Anchovies, Sardines, and Herrings/Haddocks.
  8. Minimize simple carbs, including treats/sweets, soft drinks (whether regular or diet), fruit juices, alcohol, donuts, etc.

By making more health-promoting food choices on a daily basis, we will prove to ourselves the power of food that can nourish our body, mind, and spirit. Just remember, “Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.”

A plant-strong and a well-balanced plate filled with mixed cooked and raw veggies
A mixture of fruits and veggies on one colorful plate filled with nutritious vitamins and minerals
Diversity of plants with sprouted vegetables and colorful fruits all on one plate
A quick fix nutritious meal, high on plant-strong proteins and a savory soup on the side
Fruitful plate with packed full nutrients from plants, grains, legumes, roots, nuts, and seeds

Sleep, you MUST have it!

Sleep for Focus and Success

In our busy lives, we often sacrifice the things we need the most to be healthy and recover from our hard workouts. Unfortunately, sleep and nutrition are often the first two to go. It’s important to say it right from the start here when it comes to sleep, there is no such thing as “catching up”. We should aim to have the same amount of hours of sleep whether it is a weeknight or weekend night. Not only that, heading to bed at the same time every night is essential in setting up the body’s circadian rhythm for success.

This means optimal performance throughout the following day! Even more, getting both sleep quality and quantity on a regular basis leads to overall optimal health and vitality. You absolutely CAN NOT recover and experience the true adaptations from your hard work in the gym if you do not get enough quality sleep, and at the right times.

Sleep requirements may differ from person to person. However, the goal is to aim high. Listen to your body and count the number of hours of sleep after a morning waking up refreshed. If your body demands 7-9 hours, then try to aim for 9 hours! Teens may demand at least 10 hours nightly while toddlers demand even more.

Although as adults, some of us do not have the luxury of scheduled bedtime, we should aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep, if not more, each night. Furthermore, the goal is to achieve restorative sleep. START by setting a routine of maintaining the same bedtime and wake-time every single day!

Sleep appears to affect our hunger, our metabolic rate, our weight, our immune system, and even the compassion we feel for others! These effects involve our thinking, choices, and emotional state. This means that sleep influences many aspects of our brain function, including (according to various studies) our risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Sleep loss has also been linked to numerous other serious health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, etc. More research is suggesting that inadequate and/or fragmented sleep may even be linked to premature death in older adults.

Sleep deprivation doesn’t just make us cranky; it also compromises our immune system, which increases the likelihood of getting sick! So for the sake of our loved ones and our immune system, let’s aim to get enough sleep every night. While it is understandable that we have busy lives and often not enough time in the day for all of the demands on our time, nothing you do will destroy your focus and success faster than cumulative sleep deprivation. 

(Editor’s Note: I can not emphasize enough how important this is! If you are a client of mine you will hear me say it all the time. Your excuses do NOT make a difference. If you are burning it down in the gym, but not getting proper sleep, you are most likely doing more damage than you are recovering from. This is the opposite of what you want from all that effort you are putting out! -Varg)

5 Simple Sleep Solutions:

  1. Darkroom at nighttime – make your bedroom a haven for sleep
  2. Avoid all electronics in bed and a couple of hours before bedtime – these include ANY devices with a screen: phones, computers, TVs, and any other devices that excite the brain (*including night-lights)
  3. No caffeine intake after 2pm – ideally none after lunch
  4. Seek out morning light – helps set the internal biological clock
  5. Wind down – listen to yourself and ease into a bedtime routine

Sleep is not an optional, lifestyle luxurySleep is a non-negotiable biological necessity. It’s a life support system” ~Matthew Walker, PhD.

  Nhi received her Bachelor’s Degree in Food Science & Human Nutrition at the University of Florida in 2014, and her Master’s Degree in Physician Assistant Studies also from the University of Florida in 2017. She works full-time in primary care enhanced by the field of functional medicine as a PA-C, helping people heal and thrive with healthy lifestyle choices. She enjoys educating patients on healthful living and taking charge of their lives by optimizing all the components of health and performance.