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!

 

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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Tickled for Pickles!

There is nothing more satisfying than the sweet tang and crunchy texture of pickles. I have always wanted to try making my own pickles, but when I researched the process, it seemed wayyyy too complicated. Thanks to the Icebox Pickle Mix, I found an easy way to make pickles without the boiling/canning hoopla. It was super easy and the pickles are to die for–perfect to spice up a ham sandwich or top off a turkey burger!

Quick Health Tip: You can use sugar substitute instead of sugar for the pickling mixture.

1. Start off with fresh, crisp cucumbers. I got these mini cucumbers at Sprouts.

2. You will need a gallon-size jar to marinate the maturing pickles. I also had this awesome pickle knife to cut slices in zig-zags, but any knife will do. Additional ingredients: Icebox Pickle Mix, onions, sugar/sugar substitute, white vinegar & water. (The exact amounts are on the Icebox Pickle Mix package.)

3. Put the pickles in the jar with all the ingredients and let them soak up the deliciousness for at least 24 hours! ENJOY!

Recipe of the Week! Cauliflower Crust Pizza

I HAD to share this recipe with you as soon as I found it. Most of you know how pizza obsessed I am, so I love trying healthier takes on the classic slice. A cauliflower crust if definitely unique and I can’t wait to try it!!

If you have any healthy recipe adaptations for pizza, post it below to share!

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Serves 2; Adapted from Your Lighter Side.

 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked, riced cauliflower
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • olive oil (optional)
  • pizza sauce, shredded cheese and your choice of toppings*

 Directions:

To “Rice” the Cauliflower:
Take 1 large head of fresh cauliflower, remove stems and leaves, and chop the florets into chunks. Add to food processor and pulse until it looks like grain. Do not over-do pulse or you will puree it. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate the whole head with a cheese grater). Place the riced cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 8 minutes. There is no need to add water, as the natural moisture in the cauliflower is enough to cook itself.

One large head should produce approximately 3 cups of riced cauliflower. The remainder can be used to make additional pizza crusts immediately, or can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

To Make the Pizza Crust:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup cauliflower, egg and mozzarella. Add oregano, crushed garlic and garlic salt, stir. Transfer to the cookie sheet, and using your hands, pat out into a 9″ round. Optional: Brush olive oil over top of mixture to help with browning.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven. To the crust, add sauce, toppings and cheese. Place under a broiler at high heat just until cheese is melted (approximately 3-4 minutes).

Enjoy!

*Note that toppings need to be precooked since you are only broiling for a few minutes.

 


This delicious recipe brought to you by Eat. Drink. Smile.
http://www.eat-drink-smile.com/2011/04/cauliflower-crust-pizza.html

The Juice is Worth the Squeeze

The newest food craze, “Juicing,” is an amazing way to get 5 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. If you were to actually chew and eat that many raw fruits and veggies, you would probably suffer from TMJ! Using a blender to combine vegetables such as spinach, kale, and cucumbers with fruits such as apples, blueberries, and strawberries, allows you to get a punch of vitamins and minerals in a delicious smoothie. And it is filling!!

The first thing you need is a good blender. There are infomercials and advertisements out there that say you need a special “juicing blender,” and of course they are hundreds of dollars. I have a KitchenAid blender that was not cheep, but definitely not anything close to those that are advertised. Bottom line: Do a little research before splurging on a fancy-shmancy blender.

The second step is to decide what F&V you want to include. There are millions of recipes online. I used one that my mom’s nutritionist, Rebecca Green, gave her. It makes about 4 servings, so you can keep the left overs in the fridge for the next 2 or 3 days. You will be surprised at how delicious it is and how good you feel after drinking it!!

Here is the recipe I tried from Rebecca Green. (Visit her website for more information on her services if you are interested: www.fitnessroad.com)

1 Cup 100% Pomegranate Juice

1/4 Cup Water (or more as needed*)

2 Cups Spinach

2 Cups Kale (peel the leaves from the thick stocks)

2 Stalks Celery

1/2 Bunch Fresh Parsley

1 Large Cucumber

1/2 Cup Baby Carrots

Chop and Blend until smooth.

1 Medium Apple

1/2 Cup Blueberries or Strawberries

2 Scoops Protein (but not necessary)

Blend Well.

Makes approx 6-8 cups, It will be thick in consistency. *You can add more water to thin it down.

Can be stored in containers and used over a 2-3 day period.

AND FINALLY, make it your own! Feel free to substitute F&V or try different juices.

The Cookie Test

Guess which of these delicious chocolate-chip cookies is a “healthier” version with half the fat and about 25 less calories??

It’s hard to tell, right?! The cookies on the LEFT are the healthier version–made with apple sauce in place of butter, brown sugar, mini chocolate chips, and whole wheat flower.

Here are the stats for ONE low-fat cookie: 85 calories, 2.5 g of fat, 0.5 g protein, 16.5 g carb, 0.7 g fiber

Compare that to ONE regular Nestle cookie: 110 calories, 5 g fat

Try out this recipe I used from Skinnytaste:

Low-Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tbsp apple sauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup of whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray baking sheets with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and salt. Stir to blend. In another bowl, whisk the sugars, butter, egg white, applesauce, and vanilla together until light and fluffy.
  3. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well blended. Add a small amount of water if needed.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Drop in spoonfuls about 1 inch apart on baking sheets.
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before removing. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

 

Blissful Baked Apples

I love Fall–pumpkin spice lattes, cozy sweatshirts, and amazingly cool nights. Here is one more thing to add to the list: Baked Apples. They are amazingly delicious and a healthier dessert option. Pair with a creamy cappuccino and you are good to go! (Cook Time: 60 minutes, serves 4)

Ingredients:

  1. 4 large ripe crisp sweet red apples (Romes or Jona-Gold are good, not Red Delicious or Macintosh)
  2. 2/3 cup unbleached organic cane sugar
  3. 1 tsp cinnamon
  4. 3 Tbsp veggie spread or butter
  5. 1/4 cup water

Directions:

  • 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • 2. Wash the apples
  • 3. With a small sharp knife, cut out a 1 1/2 inch round cone shaped piece from the stem end of each apple
  • 4. Use a small spoon to scoop out the rest of the core
  • 5. IMPORTANT: Be careful NOT to go through the other end of the apple, or your sugar mixture won’t stay inside the apple!
  • 6. Mix the sugar, veg spread or butter and cinnamon to make a paste
  • 7. Add 1/4 of the paste to the middle of each apple
  • 8. Place apples in a casserole dish with lid, or a cake pan covered with foil
  • 9. Add 1/4 cup of water, cover, and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until apples are tender but not falling apart
Nutrition Data, 225 g Serving: 260 cal, 58g carb, 5g fat, 84mg sodium, 4g fiber, 1g protein, low Cholesterol. Estimated glycemic load 28

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!!

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.

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!!