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Cranberry Orange Rice Krispie Treats

Cranberry and orange is such a dynamic flavor duo, and it seems to pop up a lot during Fall. We also think it’s perfect for The Winter Holidays. And Rice Krispie treats have and will always one of the kids’ favorite things to make and to eat. So combining the two was a win for everyone. They still got to make , play in, and eat sugary, sticky crunchy melted marshmallow goodness, and we got to experiment with adding in some gourmet (that’s a stretch, isn’t it?) grownup mix-ins.

Cranberry Orange Rice Krispy Treats

If you haven’t experimented with going beyond the basic Krispie treat, this recipe is a perfect starting point. The tartness of the dried cranberries is balanced out by the sweet orange and packed into every chewy bite.

Cranberry Orange Rice Krispie Treats

Cranberry Orange Rice Krispy Treats 2

3 tbsp butter
1 bag (10 oz.) mini marshmallows
1/4 tsp orange zest
2 tbsp orange juice
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 cup dried cranberries, such as Craisins

Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Once melted, add in the marshmallows and stir. Let marshmallows melt completely, stirring occasionally. Stir in the Orange zest and juice. Remove the skillet from heat and set aside.

2. Pour in both the cereal and dried cranberries, carefully stirring (so none spills out) until everything’s evenly coated with the melted marshmallow. Coat a 9×13 baking dish with non stick spray, and then transfer the cereal to the dish. Use the back of a greased spatula to gently press the mixture down and out, evenly into the dish. Let the treats cool completely, then cut into squares before serving.

recipe adapted from Love Bakes Good Cakes

Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken

I was so productive last weekend. I packed away all the shorts and t shirts and swapped them out for everybody’s jeans and sweaters. It was a cool 50 degrees all weekend and we were cozy and oh-so happy. And damn if I didn’t pat myself on the back for checking that giant task of our seasonal to-do list. Aaaaand then this weeek rolled around bringing us 70 degrees and you’d have thought I was trying to torture my boys.

My bad.

Any who, it may not seem like Winter is coming from the weather, despite what our wardrobe (and the local weatherman) says, but I can tell– especially as we shift from using the grill, and move firmly into oven and crockpot territory.

Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken

This recipe is easy to throw together, and you let the crockpot do all the heavy lifting. Serve it over a warm bed of freshly cooked white rice, and make sure to ladle a generous scoop of sauce overtop the chicken. Because, this sauce. This sauce will have you smackin’ your lips and licking your plate clean. Shamelessly.

Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup ketchup*
1/2 cup soy sauce*
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1/2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Place the chicken thighs on the bottom of the crockpot.
    2. In a separate, medium sized bowl, combine the minced garlic, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, oregano and parsley, and stir them together until the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
    3. Pour the sauce over the chicken thighs.
    4. Cover the crockpot with its lid, and cook for 6 to 7 hours on LOW, or 4 to 5 hours on HIGH.
    5. Remove the lid and transfer the cooked chicken to a serving plate.
    6. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
    7. Serve the chicken over a bed of white rice.

*Use low-sodium options if diabetic or of you have other health sodium-related health concerns. Similarly, this is just as tasty without the rice, or served over a bed of brown rice or quinoa for healthier options.

‘Tastes Just Like’ Pizza Soup

On the heels of Thanksgiving ( and our Tryptophan carbohydrate-induced post coma ) we needed something light, but still packing that flavor punch. We couldn’t stomach more than one course (shoot one whole meal seemed a struggle) so soup seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

Pizza Soup

And not just any soup, but pizza soup, a soup that’s a soup but still really not a soup since it encapsulates one of our most beloved dishes (and all its flavors) in one dish, without all those dastardly carbs. Who needs to hibernate in a carb coma two days in a row? Am I right, or am I right?

We’ve found most people frown at the name, but after one taste they get it. It really does taste just like pizza, but better for you. And who can’t get behind that?!

Pizza Soup

Pizza Soup 2

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
8 oz. fresh, washed, sliced baby bell mushrooms (optional)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. Italian sausage, browned and drained
4 cups chicken broth
2 (24 oz) jars of marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 oz. sliced pepperoni, quartered (or use mini pepperonis)
shredded mozzarella cheese
fresh basil, roughly chopped or chiffonade

Directions

  1. In a large skillet heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add in the prepared veggies and saute until they’re tender and slightly browned. Add the minced garlic during the last minute or two of cooking time. Transfer the veggies to a large pot. Brown the sausage in the same skillet and drain it well after cooking, then add it to the soup pot along with the stock, sauce, red pepper flakes and most of the pepperoni, saving a few to use as garnishes. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover the soup pot with the cover slightly askew so some of the steam can escape while it cooks. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 20 to 30 minutes.
    2. Ladle the hot into bowls. Top each bowl with some of the Mozzarella, a few slices of pepperoni and a little basil. Let the bowls rest for just a few minutes before serving. Serve with garlic bread or breadsticks.

Cajun Spiced Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

The fun doesn’t stop when we’ve finished painting, carving, decorating, whatever-ing our pumpkins, and have packed everything away. Hell, who am I kidding, yes it does. But everybody loves Mom’s homemade pumpkin seeds so they have to just suck it up and help me through the painfully slow process of rinsing and completely separating the seeds from every last bit of pumpkin goop.

Despite the dragging feet, and whining the whole way, in the end they’re always happy to be able to enjoy the finished product.

Cajun Spiced Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

And this seasoning blend did not disappoint. They were toasted to perfection with the perfect blend of bold Cajun spice and a solid savory with hints of paprika and Worcestershire.

Think pumpkin seeds aren’t your thing? Think again, or at least you’ve got to give them another try. With the proper seasoning, pumpkin seeds are an amazing snack. And this blend is one of our Fall favorites.

Cajun Spiced Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Cajun Spiced Roasted Pumpkin Seeds 2

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 scant teaspoon Cajun seasoning, or to taste
1/4 tsp paprika
salt, to taste
2 liberal dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp melted butter

Directions

  1. Rinse the seeds well and remove as much of the pumpkin pulp from them as possible. Some of the small pieces are going to adhere, but they won’t hurt anything. Think of those teensy, tiny pieces as flavor booster. Pat the cleaned seeds dry with paper towels. Do this quickly so they don’t stick too much.
    2. Toss the pumpkin seeds with the seasonings. Stir together the melted butter and Worcestershire, and then stir them into the seeds until they’re evenly coated.
    3. Roast the seeds at 300 degrees, stirring & turning from time to time, like every 20 minutes, for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until nicely browned and crunchy.

Healthy Pumpkin Pie Protein Overnight Oats

One night, my defenses had been systematically whittled down enough that, I let the youngest son have the dregs of my Mountain Dew Voltage. It was in a glass and he didn’t know exactly what it was other than some kind of soda, which he’s rarely allowed to have.
Handing me the empty glass to put in the sink: “Mom, that tasted like it gave me powers, super powers. I know it didn’t, but it tasted like super powers.”

Aaaaaaaaand, that is why you my son are not allowed to do The Dew. Like, ever.

Protein & oats however, make much sturdier fare (and a better breakfast option) for any real-life Super Heroes in-training. And pumpkin pie is such an obvious Fall flavor. Combining the two was a no-brainer.

And overnight oats? They’re quick and easy enough for Super Heroes of any age to whip up, or just to lend a helping hand. Throw everything in a mason jar (or pretty much any seal-able container your heart desires), give it a good stir, and let it sit overnight while you sleep. When you wake up? A protein packed, breakfast that tastes like dessert will be waiting to greet you.

Healthy Pumpkin Pie Protein Overnight Oats

 Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats

1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1.  Add all of the ingredients to a mason jar or other plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, and stir everything until evenly incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Serve cold.

*To fit in with dietary restrictions or requirements, you can use a sugar alternative such as Splenda or Truvia in place of the sugar, and you can also sub Gluten-free oats if necessary.

Chipotle Cheddar Turkey Wraps

Where are all my fellow football fans at?

<Fist Bump>

Now, I freely admit, while I love the game and can in fact follow along and all the rest, my favorite party about game day is the food. Hey, there’s no shame in my game 😉

And who doesn’t love a good excuse to make an entire meal out of appetizers, assorted snack foods, and chips and dip?

Chipotle Cheddar Turkey Wraps

I love serving wraps because they’re simple to assemble and easy to throw together a the last minute. Like under 5 minutes quick. Who wants to be stressed out on game day? Or make that any more stressed out if your team didn’t bring it that day.

This wrap though has, most definitely, brought it. It’s bursting at the seams with flavor. The creamy (& healthy–shh don’t tell the guys) avocado yogurt sauce pairs perfectly with the tang from the sharp cheddar. They’re rounded out with the addition of some of your favorite sliced turkey and tomatoes. Then we’ve sprinkled on some cilantro leaves and a pinch of Chipotle seasoning for the perfect amount of fresh color and kick.

Chipotle Cheddar Turkey Wraps

2 large flour tortillas, burrito size
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, or sour cream
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tsp lemon juice
8 thin slices of cheddar cheese, softened to room temp
1/2-1 tsp chipotle seasoning, or more (to taste) if you’re feeling adventurous
1/2 cup of your favorite chopped tomatoes; Rotel, diced Roma, or even sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, stems discarded, chopped

Directions

  1. Place the tortillas onto a clean, flat work surface, such as a cutting board or counter top.
    2. In a small bowl, combine the avocado, yogurt, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, using a fork to mash everything together until evenly incorporated into a thick sauce.
    3. Spread the sauce out evenly, dividing it in half between both wraps, and remembering to leave a 1/4″ bare edge all the way around.
    4. Add the cheese slices (about 4 slices per wrap depending on the size) in an even, flat layer. It’s ok if you need to break the cheese in places to get it to properly cover the whole wrap.
    5. Evenly sprinkle each wrap with 1/2 the desired amount of chipotle seasoning.
    6. Evenly sprinkle each wrap with 1/4 cup of tomatoes.
    7. Evenly sprinkle each wrap with 1/4 cup of the fresh cilantro.
    8. Roll each wrap up tightly and position so that the seam side is facing down. Set the rolled wraps onto a plate and chill in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes.
  2. 9. Using a serrated knife, slice each wrap into 1-inch slices and serve them immediately to a hungry crowd.

Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins

Sweet, dark cherries stirred into a deceptively ‘skinny’ chocolate batter that’s then baked into healthy muffins that are sinfully delicious.

 Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins

With these you can have your cake and eat it too, AND still feel good about it.

Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins 3

Pair these with a glass of milk for an indulgent start to any morning. Or enjoy them with a glass of milk (or wine, just sayin’!) for a sweet treat that’s a great ending to any day whether it’s for dessert, or a not-so naughty midnight snack.

Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins

Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins 2

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 large egg whites, or one large egg
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (or regular yogurt, plain or vanilla)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp  baking powder
1 cup chopped dark sweet cherries (fresh or frozen)
chocolate chips for sprinkling on top, optional

Directions

  1. Prepare a cupcake/muffin tin by spraying the cups generously with non-stick cooking spray, or you can use cupcake liners (but they won’t pull away clean from the baked muffins).
    2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the applesauce, sugar, honey, egg whites, greek yogurt, and vanilla extract, mixing them until the batter is evenly combined without any lumps left.
    3. Sift together the flours, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together. Slowly stir in the wet ingredients, just until everything’s evenly incorporated, but also making sure not to leave any flour pockets lurking behind. Gently fold in the cherries using a spatula.
    4. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups, filling them as close to the top as possible. Bake the muffins at 425 degrees for 5 minutes then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 15 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center of one muffin. If it comes out clean, they are done. If not, bake for about 2 more minutes.
    5. Remove the pan from the oven and allow It to rest, cooling for about 3 minutes, then carefully remove the muffins from the pan and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Muffins stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
    * These muffins also freeze well, making a great grab and go breakfast or snack option. Just put them in the refrigerator the night before to thaw, and pop them in the microwave in the morning to reheat.
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