Tag Archives: Cooking

Foodie Friday!

If you’re anything like me, you may have found yourself stuck in a rut in the kitchen. You end up cooking the same recipes over and over and, while they might be good, they get old fast.

I’ve been trying to kick myself of that habit by making a point of trying at least one new recipe per week. So far, I’m really enjoying tasting new dishes! I go out of my way to pick recipes that won’t use a bazillion unknown ingredients, and that are reasonably healthy.

On that note, if you haven’t already stumbled up Chocolate Covered Katie’s blog yet, I highly encourage you to do so. I found the recipe for my Double Chocolate Brownie Batter Pancakes on there, which were incredible and unbelievably low in calories! So far she’s two for two in terms of serving up heavenly and healthy versions of a variety of chocolatey goodness. This little baby is a recipe she created as well, and holy cow! It’s freaking good.

One-Minute Chocolate Cake
(can be gluten-free!)

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons spelt flour (or white, or even peanut flour)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 stevia packet (or 1 more tablespoon sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or vegetable oil (Edit: many commenters have said it still tastes good if you sub applesauce or mashed banana. But I can’t personally vouch for the results if you make that substitution.)
  • 3 tablespoons milk of choice (I used almond milk)
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Step 1: Combine dry ingredients: cocoa powder, flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and stevia, and mix very, very well. I used one tablespoon whole wheat and 2 tablespoon white flour.

Step 1

Step 2: Add liquid, stir, then transfer to a little dish, ramekin,
or even a coffee mug. I used the unsweetened applesauce instead
of oil to add less fat to the recipe.

Step 2

Step 3: Microwave 30-40 seconds. If you don’t want to eat it straight out of the dish, be sure to spray your dish first (and then wait for it to cool before trying to remove it).

Step 3

Step 4: Chocolate Covered Katie has a recipe for raw frosting you can use to top it off, or do as I did and drizzle with chocolate syrup!

Voila!

If this doesn’t satisfy your sweet tooth, I don’t know what will! It’s the perfect single serving dessert, if you want something guilt-free! The pictures don’t even do this justice, in my opinion.

Of course, there are days when you just have to have the real thing, but this is great when you want to feel indulgent. My husband was out of town, so making a whole cake for just little-old-me seemed like a lot of work. This was a great alternative, and I could have my cake and eat it too! (Ok, that was lame.)

**I have since made this for a second time, but I added a tiny scoop of hot fudge in the batter before microwaving. If you’re not afraid of a few extra calories, this is a melt-in-your-mouth addition!

Do you have any recipes that are to die for? Do you splurge on desserts, or do you like to find ways to make them healthier? Share!

Double Chocolate Brownie Batter Pancakes

Move over Wheaties.  There’s a new breakfast of champions in town, and it doesn’t taste like bran.  Nope, I’m talking about waking up to melt-in-your-mouth chocolate first thing in the morning.  I was lucky enough to stumble upon this recipe from Chocolate-Covered Katie for Double Chocolate Brownie Batter Pancakes.  Not only do these take minutes to throw together, you get to douse them in chocolate syrup.  I’m asking you, does it get any better?  Yes, it does.

Chocoholics of the world get their fix of deliciousness, plus the ENTIRE recipe is a mere 130 calories.  I made these for New Year’s Day breakfast, and they are as good as they look.  My husband can be quite picky at times, and his short stack was devoured in the time it took me to go into the kitchen and get a glass of milk.

Here’s what you’ll need to satisfy your deepest chocolate cravings first thing in the morning:

  • 1/4 cup spelt flour (or all-purpose or Bob’s gluten-free)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 T Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa or dutch cocoa (You can sub regular cocoa, as well.)
  • 1 and 1/2 packets nunaturals stevia or 1 T plus 1 tsp sugar (you can use less if you’re planning to top with syrup and don’t want the actual pancakes to taste sweet.)
  • 1/16 tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/2 T applesauce (or oil, if you don’t like fat-free pancakes)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 5 and 1/2 T nondairy milk

1) First thoroughly mix all the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cocoa, stevia and salt. I just used regular all-purpose flour because that’s what I had on hand.  I also used regular cocoa powder, instead of the dark.

Mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cocoa, stevia and salt.

2) Add all the wet ingredients and mix well: applesauce, vanilla and milk.  I used fat-free skim milk.

Mix in applesauce, vanilla and milk.

3) Make pancakes!  You should get 6-8 silver dollar size cakes out of a single batch.  I chose to double the recipe because I wanted to make bigger pancakes.

I made these slightly bigger than silver dollars.

Now I read that both maple syrup and chocolate syrup tastes amazing on these little beauties.  I chose to use chocolate syrup because I wanted to really make these decadent.  Plus they’re already lo-cal, so you might as well!  I haven’t tried it yet, but I imagine adding sliced bananas or strawberries would taste yummy, too.

Need I say more?

I found the nutritional breakdown on Katie’s blog using whole-grain spelt flour, Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa, and Almond Breeze almond milk.  If you use different ingredients, this info would vary but probably not a whole lot.

For the entire recipe:

Calories: 130 Fiber: 5.5 g Added Sugar: 0 g Protein: 5 g Fat: 1 g

Let me know what you think of these!  

What I LOVE Right Now.

Minutes ago, I was attempting to bake a chicken breast in the oven for lunch.  Being the lazy dishwasher that I am, I thought I would cheat by lining my baking pan with wax paper – it says right on the box that it should work for “easy” clean up! Well…no.  Seconds after I popped my healthy lunch into the oven, my smoke alarm starts obnoxiously sounding throughout the kitchen.  Oops.  Maybe I need to re-read what the heck wax paper is supposed to be used for because clearly it can’t sustain itself in the oven.  The smell of nasty chemical compositions aerated through the house.  I needed help.  Which brings me to the first item I am in love with at the present moment!

Lemon Verbena Soy Candles

Lemon Verbena Soy Candles

1. On a recent Target escapade, a good friend raved about these candles.  They burn clean and the scent in incredible.  I can’t tell you how fast my kitchen stopped smelling like burnt nastiness and started smelling clean, fresh and invigorating!  The best part is they don’t cost an arm and a leg – I believe I got away with this one for around $10.

Kindle + Third Book of the Hunger Games Series = Epic

2. Now, I realize I am late in the game here.  I’ve been hearing about the Hunger Games for a while, but I couldn’t get myself to read it.  I guess I had expected something along the lines of Twilight, which I couldn’t get into.  Plus the whole premise of the book was not anything I ever would have thought to pick up in the past. BUT! I couldn’t have been more wrong! I savored the first book.  The characters are so well developed, the plot moves along fast and is well thought out, the action is exciting and leaves you on the edge of your comfiest chair.  I’m currently midway through the third book, Mockingjay, and it hasn’t disappointed so far.  Even better? I get to read it on my Kindle.  I can’t tell you how much I love toting that to the gym.  I can’t read and run at the same time, but when I ride the bike or the elliptical I can get my fill of reading.  Plus you don’t have to fumble trying to turn the page while in motion, something I always had trouble with.

Saucony Kinvara 2

3. One thing I can’t get over is how much I adore these shoes.  I was in dire need of a new pair to run in and I’m not a big fan of too much cushion.  I wanted something lightweight and supportive, but I had no idea what I was looking for.  Before I just ran in my old, old tennies (yucky and smelly), so this was to be my first real pair of running shoes.  After visiting our local shoe store, my eyes immediately sought out this fiesty model on display.  I oogled and awed for about 10 minues, going to look at other shoes and finding my way back to these show stoppers.  After trying them on and giving them a brief test drive around the store, I was convinced (perhaps too easily, but my heart knew what it wanted).  I have never once regretted that decision!  These shoes are perfect. Everything I was looking for and more.  When I was running 6 miles over the summer, my feet never hurt or had blisters.  My high arches never ached.  Wonderful.

If you want more professional reviews for this shoe – click here.

Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joe's

4. Tis’ the season for all sorts of yumminess…egg nog, hot cocoa, homemade pies and all those sorts of things.  Obviously my waistline doesn’t appreciate these in the same way I do, but I am not one to cut myself off from having a little something sweet every now and then.  At my recent trip to Trader Joe’s, I was intrigued by the idea of candy cane oreo-like cookies.  The whole concept sounded pretty amazing.  What closed the deal was a man who ran up and grabbed three boxes right in front of me, while going on and on about how he can’t get enough of them during the holidays.  Good enough for me! I bought two boxes.  Lo and behold – they’re fantastic.  Creamy peppermint filling with bits of candy cane sprinkled in for good measure and then pressed between two chocolatey wafers. The result is perfection, especially with a cup of hot cocoa.

A Man and His Dog

5. Finally, I had to squeeze in my husband and our dog.  They’ve been cracking me up lately.  I catch them snuggling on the couch all too often.  This picture says a thousand words.  Apparently I have competition! <3

What are some things you love right now?

Healthy Dinner Southwestern Goulash

Last night, I was excited to make a meal I knew would be healthy and fast.  It literally took at the most a half hour to prepare and make.  There aren’t very many ingredients required for the recipe, but I did tweak a few things which is of course optional.  We had extra for leftovers and they still were good the next day, so you’ll have something for a healthy lunch too!

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked macaroni noodles (I used whole wheat for added health benefits)
1 lb. lean ground beef (I chose to use ground turkey and my husband didn’t know the difference)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained (I like Rotel with the added chilies)
2/3 cup frozen corn
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup fresh minced cilantro
Optional:
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
salsa
cayenne pepper, to taste

Directions
1. Cook macaroni according to package directions. 

Meanwhile, in a dutch oven or soup pot, cook beef or turkey with the onion until meat is no longer pink, then drain the liquid remaining.  Stir in the tomatoes, corn, tomato sauce, chilies, cumin, pepper and salt.  This is where you would add about a half cup of salsa, black beans and the cayenne pepper as well.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 3-4 minutes.

Noodles cooking, beef mixture simmering

2. Drain macaroni, add to meat mixture.  Stir in cilantro and heat through.

This was such a breeze to make.  I got the recipe from my Taste of Home cookbook, which I LOVE!  There is a section devoted to healthy, 30 minute meals and the nutrition information is included (see below).  Now, before you serve the dish, taste it to see if there it’s missing something.  You might prefer it on the spicier side or vice versa.  This is very versatile so you couldn’t go wrong adding to it.  I find it to be perfect for busy, hectic evenings and it will definitely remain on my recipe rotation!  Enjoy!

The nutrition facts for this particular recipe (without my optional ingredients) are:

Serving: 1 1/3 cups = 224 calories, 6 grams fat (2 saturated), 24 grams carbs, 4 grams fiber, 19 grams protein

This may look sketchy, but I promise it's tasty!

Lighter Everyday Mac and Cheese

I was looking for a healthy version of a favorite comfort food that I could make for dinner and not feel guilty about chowing down on a bowl.  I haven’t tried this yet, but it will be tonight’s dinner of choice.  I’ll be using whole wheat elbow noodles and may end up adding some ground flax for added nutrition.

Lighter Mac and Cheese

Lighter Mac and Cheese

 

Everyday Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 5

According to the recipe, don’t be tempted to use either preshredded or nonfat cheddar cheese in this dish—the texture and flavor of the mac and cheese will suffer substantially. For best results, choose a low-fat cheddar cheese that is sold in block form and has roughly 50 percent of the fat and calories of regular cheese (we like Cabot brand).

Salt
1/2 pound elbow macaroni (about 2 cups)
1 (12-ounce) can reduced-fat evaporated milk
3/4 cup 2 percent milk
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or celery salt (optional)
Pinch cayenne
2 teaspoons cornstarch
8 ounces 50 percent light cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)

1. Bring 2 1/2 quarts water to boil in a large saucepan. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt and the macaroni; cook until the pasta is completely cooked and tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and leave it in the colander; set aside.
2. Add the evaporated milk, 1/2 cup of the 2 percent milk, mustard, garlic powder (if using), cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the now-empty saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Whisk the cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup milk together, then whisk it into the simmering mixture. Continue to simmer, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickened and is smooth, about 2 minutes.
3. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cheddar until melted and smooth. Stir in the macaroni, and let the macaroni and cheese sit off the heat until the sauce has thickened slightly, 2 to 5 minutes, before serving.

Per serving: Cal 360; Fat 10 g; Sat fat 6 g; Chol 40 mg; Carb 45 g; Protein 24 g; Fiber 1 g; Sodium 720 mg

Variation: Everyday Macaroni and Cheese with Ham and Peas

Follow the recipe for Everyday Macaroni and Cheese, adding 2 ounces deli-style baked ham, cut into 1/3-inch pieces, and 3/4 cup frozen peas with the macaroni in step 3.

Per serving: Cal 390; Fat 10 g; Sat fat 6 g; Chol 45 mg; Carb 49 g; Protein 28 g; Fiber 3 g; Sodium 880 mg.

Thanks to the Early Show website for this recipe!

Make It Through the Holidays Without Gaining a Pound

Healthy Holidays

 

Healthy Holidays!

How do people make it to January without weighing 10 pounds more than they did before the festivities began? Here are a few tips that I plan on putting into practice myself and you may want to as well!

Eat! Yes, eat breakfast, have healthy snacks readily available and always, always, always… Eat before going to a holiday party. Don’t feast, but have a light meal so you don’t show up starving and ready to polish off that cheese dip.

Don’t worry about saving room for dessert because half the time it’s not a diet friendly dessert anyways! Instead, fill your plate with a lot of healthy lean meat and veggies. For example, this would be turkey breast without skin and salad. Eat the healthy stuff first, then have a tiny sample of one or two other things you can’t live without.

When it comes time for dessert… If you must have it – split it with someone! Or better yet, bake your own healthy dessert and bring it to share! Then you are being healthy and a good guest! (See recipe for Baby Tiramisu at end of article)

Another tip? Don’t fill up on alcohol! Its a calorie black hole and may also have a lot of sugar. Plus you end up snacking in the process. Better to have one glass of wine or one light beer. Avoid margaritas and pina coladas unless you plan on skipping that piece of pecan pie!

And of course… Keep moving! No slacking on exercise! Try to get in something everyday! Shoot for 20-30 minutes. If you can’t go long – go hard!

Baby Tiramisu

Baby Tiramisu
Thanks to EatingWell for this recipe!

6 servings | Active Time: 15 minutes | Total Time: 45

Ingredients

1/2 cup nonfat ricotta cheese, (4 ounces)

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

12 ladyfingers, (about 1 3/4 ounces)

4 tablespoons brewed espresso, or strong coffee, divided

2 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate chips, melted (see Tip)

Preparation

Combine ricotta, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Place 6 ladyfingers in a 9-by-5-inch (or similar size) loaf pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons espresso (or coffee). Spread the ricotta mixture over the ladyfingers. Place another layer of ladyfingers over the ricotta and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons espresso (or coffee). Drizzle with melted chocolate. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

Tips & Notes

Tip: To melt chocolate: Microwave on Medium for 1 minute. Stir, then continue microwaving on Medium in 20-second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval. Or place in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water. Stir until melted.

Nutrition
Per serving:

107 calories; 2 g fat (1 g sat, 0 g mono); 3 mg cholesterol; 18 g carbohydrates; 3 g protein; 0 g fiber; 125 mg sodium; 29 mg potassium.

1 Carbohydrate Serving

 

Mango Champagne Spritzers

Not necessarily a “healthy” beverage, but certainly not one that you will be kicking yourself for drinking later.  These are delicious and extremely easy to make.  I’m posting a non-alcoholic spritzer as well.  The sorbet is healthier than ice cream, so that takes away a little bit of the guilt.  These are a BIG hit during the holidays! Just don’t drink a bazillion of these!

Mango Champagne Spritzer

Mango Champagne Spritzer

Mango Champagne Spritzers

Glass of champagne

Haggen Daas Mango Sorbet

OR

Haggen Daas Raspberry Sorbet

Add one scoop to your glass and poor champagne over top.  Delicious!!

Sweet Sorbet Spritzer

Sweet Sorbet Spritzer
SERVES 4

1 cup canned mango nectar, chilled
1 pint mango sorbet
1 pint strawberry sorbet
2 cups ginger ale, chilled

1 Divide mango nectar among 4 chilled glasses.
2 Scoop sorbets into glasses.
3 Slowly pour ginger ale over sorbets.
4 Drink immediately.

Thanks Sandra Lee for this recipe!