Tag Archives: healthy

“No-Sweat” Molasses Cookies

I have a confession.

I like to make low-calorie desserts, so I can go back for seconds and thirds without the guilt. I am all about moderation, but there are times when a girl needs to eat three cookies.

This was one of those times. I was having a severe sugary-sweet craving and, of course, I am in desperate need to go grocery shopping. Thankfully, I found a bottle of blackstrap molasses in the back of my cabinet! I don’t even remember why I originally bought it, probably for a “recipe-that-never-was,” but regardless I was up for putting it to good use.

I’d like to introduce you to my molasses cookies!


This is what happens when you stick me in a near-empty kitchen with a sweet-tooth, and a desire to make something I can eat in multiples of two without feeling like I will gain 10 pounds as soon as I swallow the first bite.


To make these a little less fattening, I substituted unsweetened applesauce for the butter. I also substituted 1/4 cup of the sugar with 6 packets of stevia. Instead of using all white flour, I used 1/2 cup white and 2 cups wheat.

At the end of the day, these cookies have approximately 92 calories and 0.3 grams of fat. The sugar is 10 grams, but play around with the amount. You may be able to substitute more packets for the sugar, or cut back on the amount of white sugar altogether. If you’re really feeling creative, I bet you could even sub flax meal for the egg. I thought about doing that, but seeing as how I was already doing a lot of substitutions, I didn’t want to let things get too crazy up in here!

 

 “No-Sweat” Molasses Cookies

inspired by: BonAppetit and Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

1/2 cup white flour
2 cups wheat flour
2 tsp ginger or nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
3/4tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
6 stevia packets
3/4 cup white sugar**
1 egg
1 tbsp water
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
2 tbsp sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.

2. Sift flour, ginger (or nutmeg), baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper into a small bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, cream together applesauce, stevia, and 3/4 cup of sugar** until light and fluffy looking.

4. Beat egg into the applesauce/sugar mixture. Next, stir in water and molasses.

5. Gradually add the flour and stir.

6. The dough won’t be thick enough to form balls. Instead, scoop the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet by the tablespoon. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.

7. Bake for 8-10 minutes, and enjoy!

**Note: Again, if you’d like to cut back on the sugar, play around with the sugar-stevia ratio. This recipe seems to be very forgiving.

Why are they called “No-Sweat” Molasses Cookies? Because you can eat them without the need to go run 5-miles immediately afterwards…unless you want to that is!

Let me know if you try these, and how they turn out for you!
Do you have any yummy dessert recipes? Share!

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!

Resolving to Save the World: and other impossible endeavors

Just like millions of other people, New Years means I choose to make a major change in my life — and then don’t.  I’ve tried the “I will get a 4.0 GPA this semester” resolution, the “I will run a marathon” resolution, and the ever popular “I will I will lose 10 pounds by summer” resolution.  All of these I did strive toward for a couple months, and some were more successful than others.  My GPA isn’t a 4.0, but it’s pretty dang close.  I haven’t ran a marathon yet, but heck at least I run more than I used to!  And I lost 5 pounds, not 10.  So my New Year’s promises weren’t epic failures.  Still, I think I’ve been going about them all wrong.

I’m not going to resolve to not make a resolution because I do think it’s important to give yourself a goal and have something to strive toward.  I feel the problem with New Years is that people are completely unrealistic. Planning on going to the gym every single day is not practical.  If you have a family or any other obligation in your life, something will inevitably come up that keeps you from getting there one day.  Then you’ll feel like a failure and give up completely.  I’ve been there, done that.

This year, I’m taking my dear, sweet time developing my resolutions, but here are a few that I’m thinking about:

1) Do something to show my husband I love and appreciate him more often.

2) Continue to work toward running goals, and run first race this year.

3) Do something to give back to the world in some way – volunteer, donate, etc.

I feel like these goals are general enough that I cannot fail, but will still make me a better person in one way or another.  I didn’t make the same promises that I’ve made in the past because I don’t want my past failure to impact my new goals.

My advice for developing your own resolutions?

Make smaller goals. Success is relative — you don’t need a large goal to work towards.  Maybe you’ll even accomplish them early in the year and be more motivated to continue on!  So this time instead of telling yourself that you’ll lose 100 pounds by next year, don’t give yourself a set number.  Just resolve to see the number on the scale go down.  That way, your goal is reasonable and attainable.

Make more than one.  Heck make 4 or 5 resolutions!  Okay, at that point you might lose track of them.  But if you make multiple promises to yourself, you’re bound to keep at least one.  On the other hand, make sure if you’re doing more than one that you don’t spread yourself too thin.  Keep them small and simple.

Don’t resolve to do anything you failed to do in the past.  This doesn’t mean last years resolution to get in shape doesn’t matter any more.  Being healthy is one of those goals that never goes away.  I just feel your chance of fulfilling a New Years promise increases if it isn’t the exact same one you didn’t do last New Years.  If you resolved to “start eating healthy” before, and it didn’t pan out, make a fresh, new goal this year.  Instead of trying to do major calorie cuts in your diet, resolve to swap one junk food item for a more nutritious option.  If you eat out almost every day, resolve to make one meal a week at home.  These will still get you on a healthier path without the sense of imminent failure.

I hope these help! Have a safe and Happy New Year everyone!

This just made me giggle...

Have you made any resolutions this year?  What are some things you hope to accomplish in 2012?

Diet Soda May Hurt Your Diet

Somehow, I have a feeling this post will strike an unpleasant chord with many readers, as I know people who take their diet soda very seriously. I am not one who has ever been a soda addict, caffeine addict or sugar addict (at least not in drink form).  Ideally, I would try to stick to water, but I find myself drinking ice tea or low-fat chocolate milk (post-workout) and even the occasional coffee.  I try to stay as far away from soda as I possibly can for countless reasons.  Mainly, I don’t get any satisfaction from drinking the bubbly, sugary drink with artificial colors and flavors.  If anything I feel more sluggish and my stomach is upset from the carbonation.  I end up more thirsty than I was before indulging in the beverage and since my stomach is filled with so much air, eventually I’m back to being hungry too.

The main complaint I have with diet soda is their claim that it makes you think it is somehow “healthy” because the word “diet” comes before it.  The fact is diet soda still has artificial sweeteners which, although haven’t been proven to be harmful, are still best avoided.  Just because the FDA hasn’t stepped in doesn’t mean the product is a good one!  Saccharine was banned in Canada and other countries because lab tests with animals found that it was linked to bladder cancer; the FDA has chosen to remove warning labels due to inconclusive evidence as to the effect it has on humans.  Aspartame is a high profile, artificial sweetener that is highly controversial.  Aspartame was discovered as a sweetener while researching anti-ulcer drugs.  The scientist spilled some on his hands and realized it had a sweet flavor, so now it’s in many diet drinks, water packets and other sugar-free items.  There are many, many names for aspartame and claims have been made that it contributes to anything from cancer to psychiatric problems in humans.  The jury is still out on this one as well, but in my opinion it isn’t worth the risk.

Another point to be made is studies have found that people who drink diet soda are not healthier in any way.  Reducing the food energy intake of sugar in soda doesn’t imply that person will have a lower food intake overall or lead to weight loss.  An independent study also found that 48% of the 9,000 people in their test group were at higher risk for weight gain and elevated blood sugar levels.  The diet soda merely increased the person’s desire for sweet foods.

 

Homemade Sparkling Water Spritzer

Overall, I think it is best to avoid soda in general.  If you have to have it every once in a while that’s fine and dandy, but don’t justify your indulgence by telling yourself it is “healthy” and do your best to try and limit your intake as much as possible.

 

Best idea for soda drinkers?  Create your own soda!  Combine sparkling water (not club soda-too much sodium) and your favorite 100% fruit juice.  This is a great way to wean you off of the artificial crap and still get a taste of the bubbly stuff.  Sparkling water is hydrating and the NYTimes reported it can help keep calcium in your bones.

For a drink like this, pour glass half full with 100% juice of your choice and half full of sparkling water.

To make things more fun or fancy, try using frozen berries or fruit instead of ice cubes!!

Fancy Schmancy Fruit Cubes


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!

Help! I’m a diet slacker!

Argh, I am so bad with blogging.  I feel like I never have time to just sit and pump out a good post!  I haven’t had a whole lot to write about as I haven’t been as strict with my workouts as I was a few weeks ago.  Nick is working and involved in a ton of campus activities and I’m still trying to get into a schedule.  We have been eating out a lot because we’re at school from 2-8:30 on some nights and by the time we get home it’s 9 and I’m definitely not in the mood to cook.  I know I need to start cooking meals or prepping them in the morning so they’re done or ready to go by the time we get home.  I know this is what I need to do and yet I haven’t practiced what I preach and just do it already!

Tomorrow night this will all change.  I’m going grocery shopping and stocking the house with healthy lunch materials that can be taken on the go as well as quick dinner fix-ins.  I am researching our campus gym so I can’t let school get in the way of my working out.  It’s about $50 or so per semester which isn’t bad.  They just tack the cost onto your tuition, so you don’t have to pay up front if you don’t want to.

All in all, I’ll be getting back on track here in no time.

As if one blog wasn’t enough for me to keep up with, I’ve decided to add another blog.  It’s called, My Life as a Disaster.  This will be a humorous personal project where I’ll write about the daily happenings of life in general.  I’ve added the link to the top of this blog, so please check it out and hopefully it will blossom into something fun for you all to read as well!

When Hard Work Pays Off

A long awaited update to my blog, but at least this time I’m posting an actual picture of the results I’ve been seeing.

I love that I can see my abs now!

Now, my weight has remained about the same. I wasn’t really concerned with dropping pounds. I mainly wanted to get strong and toned. I can honestly say I’m happy with the results so far!

I haven’t been doing P90x alone though. I sort of got burnt out on it when classes started back up. I began doing my 30 Day Shred video and the EA Active 2 to supplement on days I just couldn’t get up early enough for P90x.

I have found EA Active 2 to be really pretty good. I don’t use the bands, I use weights usually between 5-10lbs. depending on the exercise. Also, I make sure I really go at it hard and get my heart rate up there the entire workout.

I haven’t been dieting, but I do watch what I eat and make sure not to over indulge. I don’t beat myself up if I have a scoop of ice cream, I just don’t do it everyday!

I do use protein powder drinks with breakfast (usually a bowl of oatmeal). That breakfast keeps me full well into lunch time! Be careful to read labels on your protein powder because some are better than others.

So there you have it!  I’m excited I finally got this update on here…I’ve been quite the blog slacker lately.

My Diet Pit Fall…almost.

 

Apple Dip

= DELICIOUS!

 

 

I recently fell victim to a not so healthy caramel apple dip.  It’s advertised as “low-fat” and tastes great!  But unfortunately the calories are 150 per tablespoon.  For someone who slathers her apples in the dip, I need something that allows for a little more wiggle room in terms of calories.  I probably have that one tablespoon after eating only two apple chunks.  This would have been a diet disaster if I hadn’t caught that on the nutrition label! Yikes!

A healthy alternative which I have been munching on is made with either non-fat yogurt or reduced-fat cottage cheese.

Directions:

Take about 1/3 cup of either the yogurt or cottage cheese

Add 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar

Add cinnamon to taste.  Also could add nutmeg if you like that extra flavor.

Now, I am not positive about what this equals in terms of calories per serving.  I just stumbled across this recipe on a random website and decided to give it a whirl.  I know for sure that even if the calories are similar to that of the caramel dip I am replacing, there are a ton of added health benefits that you get from eating the non-fat yogurt like calcium and protein.  The same can be said for the reduced fat cottage cheese.  Also, the light brown sugar is about 4 grams of sugar per tablespoon.  So if you add two table spoons, that would be 8 grams of sugar.  Still not too bad, especially if you don’t eat the whole thing of dip at one time or all to yourself!  Most yogurts that advertise having “fruit” in them also contain a ton of sugar anyways, so this is still not as much as you would be having otherwise.

Most importantly!! You are eating a healthy fruit full of fiber! Leave the skin on the apple for added nutrients.  This is actually a filling snack and will keep you from munching on crap the rest of the day.  I even eat this for dessert after dinner if I’m craving something sweet.

Exercising the Mind Does a Body Good

So last night I hosted our book club meeting.  I feel so lame admitting that I belong to a book club, but it’s a nice way to get together and chat with the girls. I’m surprised they haven’t kicked me out because I’m terrible at finishing the books we pick.  It’s not that they aren’t good, I’m just about the worst procrastinator known to man.  This month we’re reading Pride and Prejudice, which is my ultimate favorite so I’m not too concerned with this one.  Plus, my brother bought me a Kindle for Christmas so I’ll be able to read it on my new technology!

For dinner, I made the Everyday Mac and Cheese recipe that I posted the other day.  I was seriously impressed with how it turned out!  Delicious!  I don’t think I allowed the sauce to thicken enough as it was a little on the soupy side, but still really good!  My husband loved it.  I used the whole wheat noodles and skim milk instead of 2 percent.  The perfect comfort food for a cold, winter day.

Now I just need to figure out what I’m making tonight!  Any suggestions?

 

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!