Have you ever woken up for an early morning workout and about 10 minutes in you realized that you are sluggish and have no energy? You begin wondering why you didn't eat a quick piece of toast or a banana, even though neither sound very appealing. Well, I have a real treat for you today! These little energy bites are nutritious and full of carbs and protein but tasty and crave-able, unlike those energy bars they sell in the little foil wrapper!
I had pinned these on Pinterest several months ago and forgotten about them. For some random reason they popped into my head about a month ago and I decided to make them immediately - especially since I already had most of the ingredients on hand. One small adaptation I made from the original recipe is using whole flax seeds instead of ground. I couldn't find ground flax seeds at my store and though I could grind it up myself I chose not to. I like the texture and the 'pop' of the whole flax seeds and I think they give the little bites a prettier look! I imagine you could sub-out many different add-ins if you choose to, but I think they are just perfect as-is! I have been grabbing 1 or 2 before my morning runs and when I get a sweet craving in the middle of the day. They are so yummy that I'm having a hard time keeping the fridge stocked!! Time to go make another batch!
No Bake Energy Bites
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1/3 cup honey
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
Mix everything together in a medium mixing bowl until all ingredients are incorporated. Let chill in the refrigerator for about a half hour. Once chilled, drop by heaping tablespoons onto a silicone baking mat. Roll into balls. Refrigerate in a sealed container.
Adapted from Smashed Peas and Carrots
I know I've said this before and I know I'll say it again, but, it's time for me to get healthy in my diet! I am a runner and I've always loved to exercise, but when it comes to eating healthfully I definitely don't always practice what I preach. My love for cooking, baking and eating always wins over in the end. So I'm constantly on a quest to find recipes that I can have fun creating in the kitchen AND not feel guilty if I accidentally eat half the batch! Ooops! Last night I broke open Williams-Sonoma's Essentials of Healthful Cooking and this recipe caught my eye instantly. I've made meringues before and I know a few things about them - 1. they are very low in calories 2. they require very few ingredients and 3. they are the perfect sweet and crunchy treat any time of day. This recipe had me particularly excited because it calls for Dutch process cocoa powder and I finally scored myself some while on vacation in Richmond, VA at For the LOVE of Chocolate. I had heard about this store on my favorite blogger's site, Annie's Eats, and I'm so glad I stopped in! I could have bought a ton of stuff to bring home but since the temperatures were near 100° and we were nowhere near our hotel I decided not to. I did, however, treat myself to a Dark Chocolate and Bacon Truffle. Oh. My. Gosh! So rich and smoky. I'm a huge fan of bacon in/on my sweets so this was a real treat for me! Back to the meringues, I'm not sure if it's the cocoa powder or what, but these are so yummy! I've had, oh, um, maybe 6 since they came out of the oven an hour ago and the girls have probably had 3 each. No worries though, because the recipe makes a ton!
6 egg whites (make sure to have NO egg yolk remnants in the egg whites or you will never get stiff peaks)
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
Pinch of kosher salt
Position 2 racks in the center of the oven and preheat to 250° F. Line 2 baking sheets with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Set aside.
Sift together the cocoa powder and 1/2 cup of the sugar into a medium bowl. Set aside.
Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on medium speed until very frothy, about 1 minute. Add a pinch of kosher salt and continue beating until soft peaks form, about 2-3 minutes. Increase the speed to high and begin to gradually add the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing sugar to fully incorporate between each addition, about 10 seconds. Once all the sugar has been incorporated continue beating until stiff peaks form, about 1-2 more minutes.
Sprinkle 1/3 of sugar/cocoa mixture over the egg whites. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the sugar/cocoa mixture into the egg whites, being careful not to deflate the egg whites. Once the sugar/cocoa is fully incorporated, repeat with another 1/3, then the final 1/3 of the sugar/cocoa mixture.
Once all the sugar/cocoa is incorporated into the egg white mixture, transfer to a large pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe meringues onto the prepared baking sheets in the formation of a ladylock, about 2 inches long. (You can get creative here and pipe any shape you like, really!) Space the meringues about 2 inches apart.
Bake until meringues are completely dry, about 2 1/2 hours. Transfer pans to wire racks to let them cool completely. Once cool, carefully lift off trays and place in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Barely adapted from Essentials of Healthful Cooking by Williams-Sonoma
A few days ago it finally hit me. I finally figured out why I'm a less-inspired cook during the summer months. I'm not a huge fan of grilling. It's not that I don't LIKE grilled food, it's just that in our current living situation grilling in inconvenient, at best. Our grill actually ran out of propane in March and neither hubby or I are in a rush to refill it! In lieu of that we have a cast iron grill pan we use to sort of simulate real, outside grilling. It actually does a really nice job with the food (clean-up, on the other hand, is a whole different story!).
The other day I had some chicken defrosted in the fridge and I was scouring the internet for a healthy, summer dish to use it in. I came across this recipe for Island Chicken on allrecipes and I had some of the ingredients on hand, but not all. So, let the improvising begin! I used fresh/frozen pineapple instead of canned, but you can use whatever you have on hand. I also skipped the hot peppers and replaced them with sweet red bell peppers and made a few other adaptations. It was a family pleaser for sure! We will definitely have this on the menu again.
As for the rice, I honestly had no idea how much my kiddos love rice! I took some basic cooking techniques and developed the rice recipe right here in the Butter Is Better Test Kitchen. Enjoy!
For the Chicken & Salsa
Makes 4 servings
2 cups diced pineapple
1/4 cup reserved pineapple juice
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
Juice of 1 lemon - about 1/4 cup
Juice of 1 orange - about 1/2 cup
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 spiced rum
1 pound chicken breasts (this would also be great with boneless, skinless, chicken thighs)
In a bowl, combine pineapple, reserved pineapple juice, bell pepper, lemon juice, orange juice, cilantro and rum. Let stand for one hour to allow flavors to meld.
After one hour, strain the juice from the salsa. Set the salsa aside for the rice. Place chicken and juice in a bowl to marinate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2-6 hours.
Preheat grill or grill pan. Grill chicken until juice run clear or internal temperature reaches 165 F. Remember to flip the chicken about halfway through - I apologize - I didn't keep track of time when doing this! Discard the marinade. Do not use it again! Once the chicken is done, serve it with Island Rice (see below)
For the Island Rice
1 cup brown rice
1 3/4 cups water
1/2 cup pineapple salsa (see recipe above)
1 tsp kosher salt
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring the water to a boil. Once the water boils, stir the mixture once, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover with a tightly fitting lid. Simmer for 50-55 minutes until the water is absorbed and the rice is nice and fluffy. Don't lift the lid or stir the rice until the timer goes off.
Chicken adapted from allrecipes.com
Rice developed in the Butter Is Better Test Kitchen
Last year when I started back on Weight Watchers I missed baking, in a bad way. Luckily, Weight Watchers had several recipes on their website that involved flour, sugar, measuring, etc. I'm not a huge fan of some of their weight loss techniques (artificial sweeteners, fat-free, 'fake' foods, etc) but with a few modifications, this recipe turned out to be perfectly delicious and healthy. JP even asks for these often for her school snack! I keep them in the freezer and throw a few in her snack box in the morning and they are thawed out by snack time. If you want a chocolate fix right now and can't wait, just pop them in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Super easy and great to have on hand!
Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
Makes about 36 mini muffins
1 cup plain, low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup uncooked, quick oats
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, beaten
1 large banana, mashed
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375. Coat mini muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine yogurt, milk, oats, vanilla extract and egg. Set aside for 5 minutes for oats to soften. Stir in mashed banana.
In a separate bowl, stir together brown sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture into yogurt mixture to moisten ingredients. Do not beat. Dough will be very thick. Stir in chocolate chips.
Spoon batter into prepared mini muffin tins. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Adapted from Weight Watchers
So, I remember years ago, it was Thanksgiving 2004. My parents and sister decided to join my husband and me at my in-law's house for Thanksgiving dinner. After dinner my parents, sister and I drove to King of Prussia for some Black Friday shopping while my husband spend a few days with his dad at a hunting camp. I was so excited to go to King of Prussia Mall again! A place I had yearned to go to for years, then when I lived in West Chester I was able to frequent often and became quite familiar with this beautiful mammoth. This trip was also exciting for me because my husband and I had just signed the papers to buy/build a new townhouse with a shiny new stainless steel kitchen! After spending 12 hours in a mall full of endless choices I found myself leaving with two small bags. One bag from Pottery Barn with a few Christmas ornaments. And one bag from Williams-Sonoma with a shiny new cookbook filled with healthy recipes! A brand new kitchen and a new cookbook filled with HEALTHY recipes!?!? I could hardly contain my excitement! This could be life-changing!
Fast forward a few months to when we moved into our new house with the shiny kitchen. At that point life was pretty crazy. Not only were we in the middle of a move, but I was also a few months pregnant with sweet little JP! Cooking was the last thing on my mind. And so the cookbook sat....sat on a shelf, then in a closet and most recently in a box in the garage. Sure, I'd made one or two recipes from it but for the most part, this book just got pushed aside for something else.
A few weeks ago when I'd realized I'd eaten a few too many cupcakes I was tempted to buy a new, healthy cookbook. Just then I remember this little gem and started to search for it. I found it in a plastic tote in the garage and I'm so happy I did! Looking through it now the recipes seem FAR less involved and complicated as I thought they were back in 2004. Maybe it's because I'm a much better cook than I was then, but I think alot of it is because so many ingredients are so widely available today compared to 2004 (Broccolini?? Goat Cheese??). Overall, this is one of the easiest dishes I've ever made. There is very little prep work, it comes together very quickly and it's a perfect pasta dish for the warm summer months up ahead. If you don't usually salt your pasta water make sure you do AND make sure you use the recommended 2 tablespoons. You'll thank me later!!
Pasta with Tomatoes, Arugula & Goat Cheese
3/4 pound ziti, fusilli or cavatappi
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 cups loosely packed arugula
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup (1 ounce) fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt to the boiling water before adding the pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Before draining pasta, reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Drain pasta, mix in arugula and place in a warm bowl.
While the pasta is cooking, add olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil heats up add tomatoes to the pan and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Place over warm pasta. Add crumbled goat cheese, tossing to combine all ingredients. Add a little of the reserved pasta water if the dish is a bit dry. Season with fresh ground pepper to taste.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Healthful Cooking
I’m back! What a crazy two weeks it’s been for me! I chaired the Book Fair at my daughter’s elementary school all last week. This is the third Book Fair for me in 11 months and each time I start the week out feeling pretty ok on Monday, but drag-my-feet-tired by Friday. Each time I have a Book Fair I start the week off so normally – keeping up with laundry & cleaning, staying on track with my running, keeping healthy and wholesome meals on the table. And each time I fail at each one of those things by Tuesday. This Book Fair was no different. I did manage to do my 4 ½ mile training run Tuesday night, but besides that, everything else fell to the wayside…including my beloved blog. In retrospect I would have loved to have shared something really cool with you yesterday to celebrate 3 years of being a stay-at-home-mom (hooray!) but it just didn’t happen. All that being said, I’m back! I’m excited to get back to my kitchen adventures and blogging!
When I first saw this recipe I thought it looked refreshing and healthy. I had planned on making it Sunday morning for a nice, relaxing brunch at home, but with no groceries in the house, it had to stand in for a refreshing dessert. For those of you who have never used basil in a sweet dish I really encourage you to give it a try. Basil in anything just screams summer to me. I’ve had much success pairing it with strawberries and in this smoothie it works really nicely with the lemon simple syrup. Even though we had this as a dessert, this would make a fantastic breakfast smoothie or brunch accompaniment. To save time you can make the lemon simple syrup the night before and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
Lemon Zest Simple Syrup
Makes 1 1/2 cups
1 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup water
In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water and lemon zest over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve lined with a cheesecloth or durable paper towel to remove lemon zest. If not using the same day, store in the refrigerator.
Sweet Basil Smoothie
Makes 4 6-ounce servings
1 1/4 cups plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1 cup packed basil leaves
Lemon Zest Simple Syrup (entire recipe)
1 cup crushed ice
Combine Greek yogurt, basil, Lemon Zest Simple Syrup and crushed ice in a blender. Puree until smooth and frothy. Pour into frosted glasses and serve immediately.
Slightly adapted from Giada at Home
I admit it. Coleslaw is not something I usually enjoy (unless it's served on a Primanti's sandwich, but that's another kind of blog!) I usually pass it up at picnics and push it to the side of my plate when it arrives unannounced at a restaurant. I was reluctant to try this recipe but I needed a side dish for the Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches and this looked easy and had mostly ingredients I already had on-hand. I'm so glad we tried this! It's tangy and refreshing - it tastes healthy and sinful at the same time. It's the perfect complement to the chicken sandwiches and I think it would go wonderfully with any summer picnic dish!
Lightened-Up Classic Coleslaw
1 5.3-ounce container nonfat Greek yogurt (or 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup mayonnaise (reduced fat is fine)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 16-ounce bag pre-shredded coleslaw mix
2 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Add the coleslaw mix and the caraway seeds, if using. Toss to coat. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to an hour.
Very slightly adapted from So Easy, by Ellie Krieger
Today I want to share with you a newly discovered recipe from a cookbook I've had for a while. This recipe is a take on tasty, comforting pulled pork sandwiches, but it uses chicken instead. The original recipe called for a store-bought rotisserie chicken and a quick stove-top execution. I decided to make some modifications and give this a try in the crock pot using fresh chicken breast. To my excitement the meal came out amazingly tasty with perfectly balanced flavors! An added bonus is that both of my toughest critics (JP & Bean) gobbled up their dinner! We even had enough leftover to make sliders for lunch the next day!
This sandwich paired with some lightened up coleslaw just screams summer to me. I am planning on doubling this recipe and taking it to some picnics this summer along with some homemade hamburger buns (which I swear by these days!) I'll be sharing those recipes with you all soon!
Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
Makes about 6 regular sized sandwiches or 10-12 sliders
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup cider vinegar
5 tbsp molasses
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 tsp black pepper
Place all ingredients in a slow cooker set to low. Cook for 5-7 hours. Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred on a plate with two forks. Return shredded chicken to slow cooker and stir to combine. Serve on hamburger buns.
Adapted from So Easy, by Ellie Krieger
Lately I've been trying to healthy-up my diet a bit. I haven't fully committed to Weight Watchers again (I just can't find the motivation) but I'm trying to add more fruits and veggies into my diet. This recipe is great because you can whip it up in about 5 minutes when you're rushing to get out of the house for work and school The crispy tartness of the apples and the creamy sharpness of the cheddar makes it feel like a very indulgent meal but when you're done eating it you feel really good about what you just ate - no guilt here! So, now that you have those flour tortillas in your fridge, you have no excuse not to enjoy a healthy start to your tomorrow!
Apple Cheddar Quesadillas
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
4 small tortillas - about 8-9 inches in diameter
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place one tortilla in the pan. Take 1/4 of the apple slices and fan out over one half of the tortilla. Sprinkle 1 ounce of cheese over the apples. Fold the tortilla in half over the cheese and apples. Weigh down the tortilla with a small heavy skillet or an ovenproof plate topped with a heavy can. Cook until the cheese melts and tortilla is golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Cut in half and serve warm.
So Easy, by Ellie Krieger
Happy Spring! With today being the first day of Spring (and feeling like more like the first day of Summer!) you wouldn't think I'd be bringing you a recipe for chili, would you? Well, I have two very good reasons for posting this today: It's very kind to your waistline and shorts season is quickly approaching and it's super quick so you don't need to spend a lot of time in front of a hot stove to make this delicious dinner! OK, the real reason I'm posting this recipe today is because I LOVE this chili and I haven't had time to post it in the past few weeks when the weather was colder and more, well, chili-like.
Hubby and I discovered this chili recipe almost 10 years ago and have made it many, many times. I actually have a confession to make - in my early days of cooking I wasn't too clear on the difference between certain ingredients. One of those ingredients was chili powder. I thought it was the same as ground red pepper! So, for a lot of years I made this dish WAY spicier than it's supposed to be! Even so, we still loved it! Now that I have kiddos with sensitive palates I tame down the heat and stick with the original recipe. Either way, I promise, you'll love this! Oh, one more reason this recipe rocks, it's super budget-friendly! Enjoy!
Vegetarian Three-Bean Chili
Makes about 6 servings
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large jalapeno, seeded and diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup beer or vegetable broth (I used a home-brew English ale)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 14-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14-ounce can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 14-ounce can vegetarian refried beans
For the topping:
Grated pepper jack or cheddar cheese
Crumbled blue corn tortilla chips
In a medium stock pot over medium-high heat, add oil, onion, peppers and garlic. Saute about 5 minutes to soften vegetables. Deglaze the pan with beer (or broth). Add tomatoes, black beans, red kidney beans, cumin, chili powder and salt, stirring to combine. Mix in refried beans to thicken the chili. Simmer over low heat about 5-10 minutes. Serve with desired toppings.
Adapted from 30 Minute Meals
Pittsburgh area mom striving to provide clean, healthy, REAL food for her family!