No-Bake Pistachio Date Brownies

Pistachio date brownies

Everyone has experienced a case of an unwavering sweet tooth, and I am no exception. In fact, I usually treat myself to something sweet every day.

Choosing a treat rich in flavor and texture is key to satisfying your craving in just a few bites: the first bite to see if it’s any good, the second bite to confirm that it’s good, and the third bite to say goodbye!

It only takes a small square of a rich No-Bake Pistachio Date Brownie to curb my cravings. Sweet dates create a dense texture while pistachios and shredded coconut add a satisfying crunch. Cocoa powder is the essential ingredient for a chocolate brownie-like taste.

And the best part–they’re so easy to make!

Ingredients (makes 2 dozen bite-sized servings)

  • 2 cups of pistachios (or other favorite nut such as walnuts and pecans)
  • 1 cup of dates, pitted and chopped
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup of cacao powder
  • Agave nectar or honey to sweeten
  • Protein powder (optional)

Directions

Pulse dry ingredients in food processor. Add wet ingredients and blend well until “dough” forms. Press into 9X11 or choice of baking pan, and put in fridge for 3-4 hours. Pistachio Date Brownies are best when eaten cold.

Nutrition per treat: 113 calories, 11 grams carb, 3 grams fiber, 3 grams protein, 7 grams fat

Note: I’d like to send a special thank you to my coworker who introduced me to these delectable treats! Thanks, Sara!

 

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Morning Habit to Drop Pounds

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It’s hard to beat this easy, delicious breakfast recipe.

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but let’s be real–most of us would rather sleep in for an extra ten minutes rather than scramble up eggs before heading out the door. In fact, a survey conducted by the NDP group found that one out of ten adults or 31 million Americans are “breakfast skippers.” Young adults are more likely to skip breakfast with 40% of people aged 18 to 34 years reporting they don’t eat in the morning. That number drops down to 20% for adults over age 55. The surprising fact was that the majority of people reported they would like to be breakfast eaters. So why don’t they do it?

One of the biggest obstacles is time. With busy lives and demanding careers, it can seem impossible to carve out a few minutes in the morning to eat. The best way to get over this hurdle is to have meals that are quick and easy or that you can grab on-the-go. (See below for a delicious and easy overnight oatmeal recipe!)

Not only will eating breakfast give you a healthy dose of energy in the mooring, but it has been shown to support long-term weight loss and weight management goals. There are a couple reasons why eating breakfast can help with weight loss:

  • Breakfast can reduce cravings later in the day (1). Eating within the first hour of waking up, especially foods with protein, has been shown to increase levels of satiety and decrease cravings later in the day.
  • Breakfast can jump-start your metabolism (2). When you wake up, your body is running on empty. Providing it with the right kind of fuel can stimulate your metabolism.

Ready to make breakfast a priority? Try this overnight, no-cook refrigerator oatmeal recipe from The Yummy Life.

Ingredients:

  • 1 mason jar or container with a lid
  • 1/2 cup of oats
  • 1/2 cup milk (Any kind of milk works, but I enjoyed it with almond milk.)
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
  • Sweeten to taste with vanilla extract, honey, agave hector, stevia, etc. (optional)
  • 1/3 cup of fruit (Examples: blueberries, strawberries, banana, mango, pineapple)

Directions:

In a mason jar, combine oats, milk, Greek yogurt, chia seeds, and sweetener. Shake jar. Then add in fruit and stir with spoon. Place lid on jar and put in the fridge overnight. Enjoy within 2 to 3 days.

References

  1. Leidy HJ, Ortinau LC, Douglas SM, Hoertel HA. Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese, “breakfast-skipping,” late-adolescent girls. Am J Clin Nutr 2013;97:677-88.
  2. Astbury et al. Breakfast consumption affects appetite, energy intake, and the metabolic and endocrine responses to foods consumed later in the day in male habitual breakfast eaters. Journal of Nutrition, 2011 Oct;5(5):455-63.

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What I Ate Wednesday

 My eats for the week:

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{Lemon lime sparkling seltzer water for when I want something other than plain water.}

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{Eric’s favorite–buffalo chicken lasagna. I made it healthier by using low-fat ricotta cheese and reduced the number of lasagna layers; paired with a salad.} 

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{Heirloom tomatoes for an afternoon snack.}

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{I am currently addicted to smoked salmon… on Ezekiel toast with a bit of low-fat cream cheese, paired with olives and asparagus with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.}

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{These seaweed chips were surprisingly delicious and conquered my salt craving. I love trying new foods.}

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{I had some “about-to-go-bad” apples in my fridge so I decided to make baked apple slices. They were SO good.. just like home-made apple pie. Sprinkle with a dash of sugar and cinnamon and bake until tender.}

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{Lunch with my co-workers is always an adventure. This is my first time trying Korean food and, man, was it good.}

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Eat Like Me

Drink Like Me

Easy, Quick, Healthy Dinners!

The last thing you want to do after a long day of work is spend time cooking dinner. And if you’re like me, your fridge is filled with the most random foods; so unless you want a pickle and peanut butter sandwich, you’ll need to stop by the grocery store on your way home.

My go-to meal for a grocery store drive-by is roasted chicken. To keep it healthy and avoid too much fat, take the skin off. Trust me, you won’t miss it with how juicy the meat is on its own.

For a quick side, grab a salad kit or veggie steamer from the frozen section. Other options are frozen sweet potato fries, Uncle Ben’s 90-minute rice, or a fresh loaf of whole wheat bread from the bakery.

Quick. Easy. Healthy. Delicious. ENJOY!!

Drink like me!

I received a ton of positive feedback from my ‘Eat Like Me’ post, so I decided to put a little spin on it and let you guys know some healthy and delicious beverage options I like. Skip the energy drinks, soda, and sugar-exploding fruit juices and go with these healthier options. 

1. Unsweetened Green Tea: If I need a little energy boost, I turn to tea because it does not have all the extra sugar like soda. Plus, a significant amount of research has shown that it is possible for green tea to benefit your health in many ways–everything from boost metabolism to supporting brain health. 

2. Sparking Water: Regular seltzer water such as Perrier or flavored sparkling water are both smart alternatives to soda. I like it with a slice of lemon or a few pieces of frozen fruit thrown in. You still get that bubbly drink, but it has less sugar and calories. 

3. Low-calorie beer: I am not a fan of sugary drinks when I go to happy hour. Instead, I opt for a vodka soda (soda water) with extra lime. Most of my friends have converted over to my vodka soda choice as well. Try it! If I am going to have a beer, I will go with MGD 64–meaning 64 calories.

Some other tips to avoid drinking away calories:

  • If you are going to have fruit juice, fill your cup with half juice and the other half with water. It will still taste delicious and you will cut back on all the unnecessary sugar.
  • If you are going to drink soda, buy it in the can instead of a liter because your 12 oz portion is already measured out for you. You will be more likely to drink more if you pour your soda from the liter. (They also have those cute miniature cans at the store now.)
  • If you get soda from a self-serve fountain at a restaurant, fill your cup up 3/4 of the way with ice. That way, you’ll have less soda to drink.
  • Calories in coffee drinks can add up quickly. If I go, I will get a regular cup of coffee (so I have control over how much cream and sugar are put in it), a mocha frappuccino lite, or an unsweetened iced tea. Check out the nutrition info for Starbucks online and find the most healthy option for your favorite drink. You may be surprised about what you find..
  • Lastly, I know you hear this all the time, but I have to say it: Drink lots of water throughout the day! Your body will love you if you keep it hydrated.

My New Favorite Food: Spaghetti Squash

My mom and I made spaghetti squash the other night. It seems weird but it’s very easy to prepare and tastes SO good. It’s also a perfect pasta alternative for people with wheat allergies. One cup is only 41 calories compared to 221 calories in regular pasta!

Here’s what you do: Cut the squash in halves and place flesh-side down in a baking pan with about 1/2 inches of water. Cook for about 40-45 minutes at 350 or until the squash is soft when poked with a fork. When they are cooked, scoop out the seeds in the middle. Then use a fork to scrape the flesh of the squash into a bowl. Add a little olive oil and pepper. Top with whatever sauce you would like! (We had marinara sauce with chicken.)

Try it… I dare you.

Smart Snacks

I always recommend that people eat a morning snack and an afternoon snack. It is a great way to keep your body fueled and avoid that “I’m-so-hungry-I-could-eat-a-cow” feeling at lunch or dinner time.

For your snack, shoot for about 200 calories and make half those calories from carbohydrate and half from protein. This way you get some energy (carbs=energy) and you feel satisfied (protein’s job). Here are some great carb/protein combos to try. (Make sure you pay attention to portions here!)

  • 1 small apple with 2 tbsp of nut butter (almond, peanut, whatever you like)
  • 3 slices of cheese (or a string cheese) with 4 crackers
  • A handful of trail mix (nuts and dried fruit… skip those tempting M&Ms)
  • 1 slice of lunchmeat and 1 slice of cheese to make a little roll-up
  • 1 slice of bread with 1 tbsp of nut butter… I like to add some sliced bananas on top:)
  • Low-fat yogurt with a sprinkle of granola
  • 1 hardboiled egg with crackers or veggies
  • 6 Carrots (or any veggie you like really) with 4 tbsp hummus
  • Low-fat cottage cheese topped with fruit

A little tip: If you are on a road trip and need to grab a snack at QT, choose turkey jerky! 1 oz is only ~80 calories.

If you have any snacks that you want to share, please post in the comment box!

Eat Like ME!

Whenever I mention that I am studying nutrition, people’s faces always light up and they ask a continuous flow of questions about their diet or how they want to change their diet. One of the first things I am usually asked is what I eat daily. So I decided to keep a photo food diary for a couple days. I tried some new recipes (that are quick and easy!) so hopefully they inspire you to add some variety to your diet. EAT LIKE ME!

This was my first try at making a frittata. I made it for Father’s Day brunch. Zucchini, tomatoes and goat cheese top the fluffy eggs!

I just threw this all together: tuna (drained and washed) with cherry tomatoes, carrots, onion, corn, and cannellini beans. Top with a splash of olive oil, red wine vinaigrette, and cracked black pepper.

A perfect breakfast! I love the Koger brand “Carb Master” yogurt (12 grams of protein and low in sugar). Add a sprinkle of Kashi Go Lean cereal and fresh blueberries.

Snack break from writing my thesis! My family gets fresh produce from a local farm. I swear the carrots taste a thousand times better than store-bought ones. Reduced-fat Triscuit crackers and string cheese keep me full and satisfied!

I made this dinner for Eric and myself. Teriyaki chicken pitas with shredded lettuce and a little cheddar cheese. Plus a yummy salad topped with almonds. I like to make my own salad dressing: olive oil, red wine vinaigrette, and whatever spices/herbs I can get my hands on.

Kale chips are SO GOOD! I love any greens cooked with olive oil and garlic, topped with balsamic vinaigrette. These are a quick way to enjoy greens on-the-go. They are a little pricey, but I think worth it. So full of nutrients too!!

Salads CAN be filling. I love to add this quinoa/brown rice mixture to my salads. Here, I used Uncle Ben’s rice. Just microwave it for 90 seconds! If you are craving a carbonated beverage, try club soda!

Pita pizza for lunch! Brush the pita with a little olive oil, add your favorite toppings, and broil in the oven for 5-7 minutes.

I got this recipe from my Women’s Health magazine. First, sauté corn, onion and chicken. Then place mixture between two corn tortillas and top with goat cheese. Place in the skillet until cheese melts. DELICIOUS!

I made this dinner when my cousin, Patrick, came over: salmon from Costco (they have some really good frozen fish to choose from), potatoes, and veggie-stuffed zucchini. And of course, a glass of red wine:)

THAT’S a Vegetable??

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a great alternative to pasta.

One of the new trends in the food world is taking advantage of the availability of locally grown products. Farmer’s markets offer an opportunity to try nutritious fruits and veggies that you may have never even heard of before. Next time you venture to a farmer’s market, don’t be afraid to grab a new food and find a recipe online when you get home.

Here are some DELICIOUS veggies that you may not have even heard of before and some great ways to prepare them:

Kale: This is a nutrient-dense green that is SO easy to prepare. It is a rich source of beta-carotene and vitamin C. I love kale sautéed with olive oil, garlic, and diced cherry tomatoes. You will have a yummy side dish in minutes!

Spaghetti Squash: The flesh of spaghetti squash resembles noodles. It is a great low carb substitute for pasta, and it’s gluten free. Toss it with tomatoes, mushrooms, basil, and feta cheese for a tasty dish.

Eggplant: Eggplant is low in fat and calories and keeps you satisfied. One cup of cubes eggplant is only 20 calories!! You cannot go wrong with eggplant parmesan. Use panko chips (Japanese breadcrumbs) instead of traditional breadcrumbs for a healthier option.

Sweet Potatoes: In comparison to regular potatoes, sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin C and fiber, which keeps you satisfied longer. I love to make sweet potato chips in the oven. You only need three ingredients: sweet potatoes, olive oil, and seasoning. They go perfectly with a juicy turkey burger!

Enjoy these recipes! Please post any addition recipes YOU love in the comment box to share with everyone!!