Monday, September 19, 2016

Healthier Pumpkin Recipes

I know it's on your mind.  Fall is here-- time to indulge in some pumpkin.  Pumpkin is naturally a flavorless, low fat, low calorie ingredient that you can use in place of butter or oil in most baked-good recipes.  But when you mix it with cream and sugar.... that's where it can help you pack on the holiday pounds. 

Give these healthier recipes a try!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

80--- Superfood Trail Mix

Wednesday, August 31st is National Trail Mix Day! This is a holiday that I can truly celebrate. Trail mix is a great way to get a good mix of macros to fuel your activities throughout the day. is having a contest, and I thought it would be fun to get in on the action.  Here is my favorite combo! The salty-sweet mix is the best. You get lots of healthy fats from those nuts, and a nice fiber serving from the cereal and cherries.  Any what's a trail mix without chocolate? 

Superfood Trail Mix
Makes 2 cups

2/3 cup Crackling Oat Bran cereal
2/3 cup shelled pistachios
1/3 cup dried tart cherries
1/3 cup dark (60% or greater) chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients in a bag or bowl, toss to mix, and enjoy!

Nutrition Info per 1/2 cup: 238 calories, 12 g fat, 4 g protein, 31 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber

Saturday, August 13, 2016

80(ish)--- Avocado Chocolate Pudding

This is a recipe that I have had friends asking me to recreate for quite some time.  I've hesitated, because I always try to invent my own recipes (I feel like this one has been done over and over by others).  But I had some ready-to-use avocados so I gave it a whirl.

I have quite a few clients coming to me seeking advice on how to gain weight.  I like to encourage them to continue to eat healthy, but just choose more calorie-dense foods, like those high in healthy fats.  This recipe is perfect for that! 

The avocados blend to create a very smooth consistency, which enhances the chocolatey flavor.  And, as with my Mexican Chocolate Avocado Brownies, you never suspect that a healthy ingredient is actually responsible for all of that creamy goodness.

Avocado Chocolate Pudding
Serves 4

1 1/2 hass avocados, ripe (**see my tip below for assessing the ripeness of avocados)
1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips, melted
1/4 cup honey
6 Tbsp milk (you may use almond milk or coconut milk as a non-dairy substitute)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

**A ripe avocado will give into pressure from your finger at the stem.  Avoid "squeezing" avocados- this may damage their flesh.

Place all ingredients into a large food processor.  Mix until very smooth (several minutes).

Spoon into four small ramekins or dishes and refrigerate for one hour prior to serving. Top with whipped cream, berries, or chopped nuts.

Nutrition info per ~1/2 cup: 371 calories, 21 g fat, 3 g protein, 50 g carbohydrate

Saturday, August 6, 2016

80--- Mexican Caprese Salad

We eat caprese with homegrown tomatoes and basil weekly in the summer.  This is a fresh twist on the classic, incorporating some Mexican ingredients.  Serve it as an appetizer to fish taco night or by itself for a quick summery meal.

I used a spicy olive oil from Pomora.  If you haven't checked out their quarterly deliveries of fresh oils, make sure you do! It's the best oil that I have ever used and the concept is genius.

Mexican Caprese Salad
Serves 4-6

16 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 avocado, cubed
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp chili olive oil (you get it in shipment two when you sign up for Pomora or infuse your own with red pepper flakes)
2 limes, juiced and zested
1/4 tsp sea salt

Place mozzarella slices onto a plate.  Combine tomatoes, cilantro, and avocado and place into the center of your plate.  Drizzle mozzarella with oil and lime juice, then dust with lime zest.  Sprinkle with sea salt and enjoy!

Nutrition info per 1/6 recipe: 282 calories, 14 g fat, 16 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 78 mg sodium

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hello Fresh Review

I have had many patients asking about the recipe/ingredient delivery services that are now available. These companies provide you with fresh ingredients and recipes, as you request, to save you on the often time-consuming meal planning and shopping aspects of dinner preparation.

Companies such as Sun Basket, Blue Apron, Plated, and Hello Fresh are some of the popular choices, and last week I had the chance to try out three Hello Fresh recipes!

The process is simple: You go to the company's website, choose the number of meals and number of servings for the week, peruse the recipes offered that week (along with the nutrition information), make your selections and choose your delivery date.  The ingredients are overnighted to your doorstep, packed carefully with ice packs. My MIL was home with my kiddos when mine was delivered and she graciously unpacked for me- so I do not have a photo... but she assures me that everything was still very cold and well-packed.  Each ingredients is measured out in the amount that the recipe calls for.

You do need to be involved in the meal preparation process. You chop and prep the ingredients, and follow the steps that the recipes provide (with photos).  Within 20-40 minutes (typically), you have a fresh meal!

Last week my family and I enjoyed a Nectarine and Chicken Panzanella Salad, Pork Schnitzel (a first for me!), and Chili Con Carne Meatballs.  I prepared the first two, and my husband prepared the latter. 

1. I typically enjoy planning dinners for the week and shopping for the ingredients. However, this trial came at a really great time when my schedule was crazy.  I really enjoyed not having to stress about what was for dinner!

2. Trying NEW recipes. Even though I really want to prepare new things for my family, I do get stuck in a rut preparing the same things week after week.  These recipes were a perfect way to break up the monotony.  AND you get to keep the recipes (which tell you the amounts of ingredients used too) so that you could prepare them again (by purchasing the ingredients yourself).

3.  The directions were straight forward and easy to follow.  You do need basic kitchen gadgets, utensils and ingredient basics such as olive oil, salt, and pepper. And you do need basic food prep knowledge.  But if you have those you are set!

4. The portion sizes were BIG.  We had two servings in each meal. My hubby is an eater, and we like leftovers, so I typically make meals for 4-6 servings.  I was afraid that there wouldn't be enough food.  But I was surprised that we even had leftovers from the meals!

1. The calories were a bit high for a couple of the meals (600-700 calories per serving).  If I had been planning those meals I would have likely make a few ingredients swaps and changed the portions of oils used, etc. to lower the calorie content.  You CAN preview the nutrition information prior to ordering the meals, so if you are calorie-conscious you can choose lower calorie options for the week if needed.

2. The ingredients are not entirely organic or non-GMO (they will provide them if the choices are available however). I'm not saying that I purchase organic foods 100% of the time.  But I know that some of my readers do try to, so I wanted to disclose this detail!

2. The cost per meal was similar to what we would pay to dine out ($10-12 per person).  It's affordable, and shipping is free, but more than I pay when I am planning meals and purchasing my own ingredients.

OVERALL I would recommend trying Hello Fresh, especially if you have a busy week coming up or if you want to break up the boredom a bit!

** Hello Fresh graciously provided me with three complimentary meals to write this post. However, the opinions are my own and are not in any way driven by financial incentives.

Monday, July 11, 2016

20(ish)--- Cherry Berry Red Wine Summer Sangria

This recipe incorporates two of my favorite summer fruits in a delightfully sweet boozy beverage.  Cherries and strawberries both contain high amounts of antioxidants and fiber!  These phytonutrients, as well as small servings of ethanol (alcohol) may actually decrease your risk of heart disease.

A refreshing summer sangria is the perfect addition to a grilled meal.  In this creation, the blackberry brandy and fruit add enough sweetness that you can skip the added sugar that sangria often contains.

Sip responsibly!

Cherry Berry Red Wine Summer Sangria
Makes ~ 50 oz

1 bottle dry red wine
2/3 cup blackberry brandy
3/4 cup club soda
1 cup tart cherry juice (lots of antioxidants here!)
1 cup pitted red cherries
1/2 cup sliced strawberries

Combine all ingredients in a glass pitcher or decanter (check out my favorite here).  Place in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours prior to serving. Serve over ice!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

80--- Peanut Butter Protein Pancakes {Powdered Peanut Butter Review too}

Have you seen powdered peanut butter? PB2 is one of the brands.  Costco now carries another brand in a HUGE container (for only $7.99). It is dehydrated peanut butter (after the majority of the natural oils have been extracted).  

Soooooo it IS a processed food.  And if you're familiar with this blog I'm typically not a fan of those things.  But I've had a lot of patients using it so I wanted to give it a try.  It contains 45 calories per 2 Tbsp and the same amount of protein as natural peanut butter, which contains 190 calories per 2 Tbsp (the calorie difference comes from the fat).  No, fats are not a bad thing.  But when you're trying to cut out a few calories for weight loss, this may be a product that you try.

You can mix the powdered PB with water, per the package instructions, and form "peanut butter".  However, I did not find that this was a very enjoyable concoction. It was gritty and did not spread well.

So I started experimenting with mixing it dry into things.

I LOVE it stirred into my steel cut oats in the morning.

It's great in smoothies.

And it is delicious in these pancakes- and adds some protein!

Peanut Butter Protein Pancakes
Makes ~8 medium pancakes

1 egg
1 1/4 cups plain Greek yogurt (I used nonfat)
1 Tbsp natural peanut butter (for the fats)
3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour (more protein than AP flour!)
1/2 cup PB powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp sugar

Combine egg, yogurt, peanut butter, and almond milk in a mixing bowl.  Whisk to mix well.

Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then whisk dry ingredients into the wet mixture.  Mix until just combined.

Drop ~3-4 Tbsp batter onto a nonstick skillet heated over medium heat.  Flip pancake when bubbles form on the pancake surface.  Cook for additional 1-2 minutes.  Repeat with all remaining batter.  Keep cooked pancakes covered to keep warm until all pancakes are cooked.

Serve immediately (or freeze for later in the week).  I topped mine with a small smear of peanut butter and homemade jelly.

Nutrition Info per 1 - 6" pancake: 144 calories, 4 g fat, 10 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber