Healthy Superbowl Recipes

As most of you probably know, this weekend is Superbowl Weekend! An afternoon spent watching TV, enjoying a football game (and/or the commercials) and indulging in some not-so-good-for-you snacks. The typical game day spread consists of things like wings, pizza, chips, and dips etc. And while there's nothing wrong with a nice, lazy Sunday, you may not want to combine the lack of activity with a bunch of unhealthy food. It's still barely February, we can't give up on our New Year's resolutions now! ;) So to help you out, we have compiled a list of healthy game day recipes that we think everyone will enjoy!

Healthy Game Day Recipes

(Click the titles for links to each recipe)

Baked Chips 

Cheers to a good game and good (for you) food!

 

Immune-Boosting Soup!

It's that time of year again - cold and flu season. Whether you've already been sick this season or you're just trying to avoid it, a healthy diet is a great place to start! My personal favorite thing to eat when I'm sick, is soup. Warm and soothing, this soup in particular is also chock full of veggies that will give you an extra immunity boost! More so than any canned soup claims to do ;)

Mushrooms– the soup is made in a mushroom broth; a power food that contains Ergothioneine, an antioxidant that helps to eliminate free radicals. They’re also a powerful source of Vitamin D.

Coconut Oil – contains two important anti-viral compounds, lauric acid and caprylic acid. Together these help ward off bacterial and viral infections.

Garlic – eating garlic can actually boost the number of virus-fighting T-cells in your bloodstream. It also contains alliin which converts to allicin, which is believed to be the major antibacterial compound in garlic.

Turmeric – probably best known for its ability to fight inflammation, turmeric contains a powerful antioxidant called curcumin which is responsible for this decrease in inflammation that is oftentimes found to be related to various illnesses.

Bok Choy – it is very high in Vitamin A, which is essential for a properly functioning immune system, while also containing high amounts of vitamin C, an antioxidant that shields the body from free radicals.

Kale – packed full of iron, which is essential for your body working at its ultimate level, along with being a great source of vitamins and antioxidants. 

Immunity Soup

Original recipe from The Healthy Haven

Ingredients

  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 lb shitake mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 12 cups water
  • 4 heads baby bok choy, bottoms chopped off
  • 1/2 head kale, chopped
  • optional: 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

Instructions

  1. Chop off the bottom of the stem from your mushrooms and discard. Seperate stems from tops and slice tops and remaining stem if necessary, into large pieces. You will only discard the very bottom of the stems, not the full stems as they contain many nutritional benefits!
  2. Heat up coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  3. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes or until translucent.
  4. Add in garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  5. Add in celery and mushrooms and sautee for about 10 minutes or until mushrooms have wilted.
  6. Add in spices (including ginger, if using) and water and bring to a boil.
  7. Then let simmer, covered for 1 hour or as long as you want (the longer you leave, the better!)
  8. Add bok choy and kale in the last 10 minutes of cooking to wilt.
  9. Serve warm or store for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

 

 

It's National Peanut Butter Lover's Month!

Did you know that November is National Peanut Butter Lover's Month? Well now you do!

Peanut butter often gets a bad rap for being high is fat, but it's actually incredibly good for you! Peanut butter is high in monounsaturated fats, the kind of fats that are GOOD for your heart. Several studies suggest that a diet high in monounsaturated fats, like those provided by peanuts and peanut butter, may decrease cardiovascular disease by up to 21%!

Peanuts are also a great source of vitamin E, niacin, folate, protein, manganese, and several antioxidants. All of these combined, make peanut butter a great snack that can not only improve heart health, but reduce your risk for a stroke or colon cancer, prevent gallstones, protect against age-related cognitive decline (such as Alzheimers) and even potentially aid in weight loss! So what are you waiting for? Get snackin' ;)

Peanut Butter Snacks

  • "Ants on a Log"
  • Spread on an apple
  • Add to a smoothie
  • On top of pancakes, toast, oatmeal
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwiches
  • No-bake granola bars, like these

Choosing the Right Peanut Butter

It should be noted however that not all peanut butter is created equal! Most commercial brands have added sugars and oils in their peanut butter. While this isn't inherently bad, it's certainly not necessary either! The same goes for "low fat" peanut butter; it's often full of other fillers and not any better for you than the regular stuff. Remember, the fat in peanut butter is good for you!

So what should you look for? When choosing a healthy peanut butter, look at the ingredients. There should only be ONE (or two) ingredients: roasted peanuts. That's it! You can also choose varieties with added salt if you prefer, but there shouldn't be oils or added sugar.

Another option is to get the peanut butter you can grind in-store, or my personal favorite, make some yourself!

The Easiest Homemade Peanut Butter Recipe

Ingredients
2 cups (16 ounces) raw, shelled peanuts
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Instructions

  1. Roast the peanuts (optional): Heat the oven to 350°F and toast the peanuts on a baking sheet until lightly golden and glossy with oil, about 10 minutes. You can skip this step if you prefer raw nut butter or if you're using pre-toasted nuts.
  2. Pulse the peanuts until ground: Transfer the peanuts to a food processor or blender. If you toasted your nuts, do this while the nuts are still warm. Pulse a few times just until chopped.

    → For chunky peanut butter, remove 1/2 cup of chopped nuts and set aside.
     
  3. Process for 1 minute: Run the food processor or blender continuously for 1 minute. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. At this point, the peanut butter will look gritty and dry, almost like couscous.
  4. Process for 1 minute: Run the food processor or blender continuously for another minute, then stop and scrape down the sides. At this point, the butter will start clumping together. It's not quite peanut butter, but it's getting there!
  5. Process for 1 minute: Run the food processor or blender continuously for another minute, then stop and scrape down the sides. At this point, the butter will be glossy and soft, like very thick peanut butter.
  6. Process for 1 to 2 additional minutes: Continue processing the butter until it becomes completely smooth. Homemade peanut butter will still be a little more gritty than Skippy peanut butter, but should be spreadable at this point. Taste and add salt or other add-ins to taste. If you reserved some nuts for chunky peanut butter add them now and pulse a few times to incorporate.

Other Nut Butters

Of course, not everyone can have peanut butter, but there's no need to fret! Other nuts and nut butters are incredibly healthy as well. Almond butter, cashew butter, walnut butter, even sun flower butter for those who can't have nuts at all, are all great alternatives to peanut butter. It may not be as big of a selection, but most supermarkets will carry at least some of these nut butters, so keep your eyes Peel'd ;) When in doubt, you can always make some at home! The process is very similar to the recipe above, just with different nuts. So get out there and explore the wide variety of nuts and seeds available! And don't be afraid of healthy fats, your heart will thank you <3

~Mandy

 

 

 

Chewy Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

Cookies are easily one of my favorite desserts, and with it being pumpkin season, making pumpkin cookies were a no-brainer! These cookies are a healthier alternative to regular chocolate chip cookies thanks to the additional fiber and vitamins in pumpkin puree. Not to mention, they are vegan, only about 100 calories each, and incredibly easy to make! That's the recipe for a perfect dessert if you ask me ;)

Chewy Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

  Makes 1 dozen cookies. Original recipe from Amy's Healthy Baking

Makes 1 dozen cookies. Original recipe from Amy's Healthy Baking

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup liquid sweetener (agave, maple syrup, honey etc. no honey if strictly vegan)
  • 3 tbsp mini chocolate chips

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cornstarch, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, pumpkin, and vanilla. Stir in your sweetener of choice. Add the flour mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Fold in 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips. Chill the cookie dough for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325°F, and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  3. Drop the cookie dough into 12 rounded scoops onto the prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly, and press the remaining chocolate chips into the tops of the cookie dough. Bake at 325°F for 15-17 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

4 Homemade Halloween Candies

If you're still wanting to enjoy candy for Halloween, but want to cut back on the processed foods, these recipes are for you! They may not necessarily be considered "healthy" (it's still candy after all), but they are significantly less processed than the versions you would find in the store. Just make sure to eat them in moderation, as hard as they may be to resist ;)


Peanut Butter Cups

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 16 oz jar natural peanut butter

Directions

  • In a medium pot, combine all ingredients except the peanut butter. Whisk thoroughly over low heat until the chocolate is smooth.
  • Using either an oiled silicone mini muffin pan OR foil cupcake papers in a regular muffin pan, fill the wells 1/3 of the way up with chocolate. Freeze these for 15 minutes.
  • Remove them from freezer and add another 1/3 using peanut butter. Freeze for 15 minutes.
  • Remove them from freezer and add the last 1/3 with more chocolate. Freeze for at least 2 hours.

Note: Store in freezer. These get melty pretty quickly, so if you want to serve them but don’t want them frozen, put them in the fridge for about 20 minutes, then serve. These are very good straight out of the freezer.


Gummies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups fruit and/or vegetable juice
  • 4 tablespoons Gelatin 
  • 2-4 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Pour juice into a small-medium saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and let sit for just a few minutes until it starts to “bloom” (it will get wrinkly looking on the surface and all of the white powder from the gelatin will absorb into the liquid). When all the gelatin is absorbed, mix it well.
  2. Then place the saucepan over medium heat on the stove. Let the liquid warm, but don’t let it boil. You want all of the gelatin to dissolve and turn thin and runny (it will be grainy at the beginning but after a couple of minutes in the heat it should dissolve completely).
  3. Add the honey and vanilla.
  4. Put the liquid in a little jar (I use my measuring cup) into a Loaf Pan or your fun gummy molds and refrigerate for about 2-3 hours. 
  5. Remove from molds. Keep your homemade healthy gummies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks. If you leave them outside they will last but I recommend storing them in the refrigerator.

Almond Joy

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (90 grams) unsweetened shredded coconut, lightly packed
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey (or pure maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 12 (or more) whole almonds
  • 4 ounces (110 grams) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Directions

  1. In a food processor, process the shredded coconut, coconut oil, honey, vanilla extract, and salt until it forms a thick paste, about 2-3 minutes. Test the coconut to see if it holds together by squeezing it in your palm. If the coconut is still too loose, continue to process for 1-2 more minutes.
  2. Drop the coconut mixture by the tablespoon onto a non-stick baking mat or parchment paper. Form each ball into a small rectangle by pressing it into formation. Press an almond on top of the coconut rectangles. Freeze the coconut for 15-30 minutes, or until solid.
  3. Melt the chopped chocolate in the microwave in 15 second increments, stirring between each increment until the chocolate is smooth. Skewer each frozen candy bar onto a toothpick and dip into the melted chocolate, tapping off any excess chocolate. Wait for the chocolate to dry before removing from the toothpick.
  4. Serve immediately or store at room temperature for several days (if they last that long).

Snickers Candy Bar

Ingredients

  • For the nougat:
  • ½ cup creamy almond butter
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut flour
  • For the caramel filling:
  • 12 soft Medjool dates, pitted (about ¾ cup packed)
  • ⅓ cup water
  • scant ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup chopped peanuts, or other nuts/seeds of choice
  • For the dark chocolate coating:
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chunks
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. To create the nougat layer, combine the almond butter, coconut flour and maple syrup in a medium bowl and mix well to combine. Press the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and use your hands to create a uniform rectangle shape that is about ½-inch thick. Place in the freezer to set.
  2. To prepare the caramel filling, combine the pitted dates, salt, vanilla, and coconut oil, and and water in a high-speed blender, and blend until completely smooth and creamy. You may need to stop and scrape down the blender a couple of times to make sure the caramel is blended uniformly. Be sure to taste the caramel and adjust the flavor or texture, as necessary.
  3. Remove the nougat layer from the freezer and spread half of the caramel filling evenly over the top, using a spatula to smooth.
  4. Sprinkle the ¼ cup of chopped peanuts, or other nuts, over the top of the caramel layer, and use your hands to gently press the chopped nuts into the caramel filling. Place in the freezer to set for at least 30 minutes.
  5. For the chocolate coating, combine the dark chocolate chunks and coconut oil in a heat-safe bowl and melt in the oven, or microwave, until completely smooth and melted.
  6. Remove the candy bars from the freezer, and slice into 6 full-size bars. Slice these full-size bars in half, to create a "fun size" version, if you prefer.
  7. Use a spoon to spread the melted dark chocolate over the tops and sides of each bar, then pick them up to coat the bottom, as well. Return the chocolate-coated bars to the parchment-lined baking sheet, and allow to set in the freezer for at least 15 minutes before serving. The longer the bars set in the freezer, the firmer they get!
  8. Due to the nature of this recipe, these bars will melt quickly if left at room temperature. Serve directly from the freezer for best results!

One Pot Zucchini Pasta

One pot meals are easily my favorite kinds of meals to make! Not only does it mean less clean up, but because everything cooks together in one pot, they tend to have an amazing flavor. This recipe for one pot zucchini pasta gets its flavor from the fresh summer produce that will only be in season for a short while longer. So if you want to make this dish, you better get on it ;) 

This dish is also gluten free & light thanks to the zucchini "noodles" instead of traditional pasta. I personally like to serve this along side some crusty bread and maybe some grilled shrimp for a little extra protein, but it is also incredible on its own. Hope you enjoy!

ONE POT ZUCCHINI PASTA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pounds zucchini (approx. 4-5 large zucchini), spiralized
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large red onion (or two small), thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • shredded parmesan for topping (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Start by warming the olive oil in a large pot over low to medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes, until fragrant.

Next add the zucchini noodles to the pot and season them with salt & pepper. Cover the pot with a lid and allow to cook for 2 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Add the tomatoes to the pot and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so. I prefer to use tongs to toss the noodles so that they cook evenly and I also like them a little firm. You can taste test a piece of zucchini noodle at this point to see if it’s soft enough for your liking. If not, continue to cook for another couple of minutes.

Lastly, add the fresh basil, crushed red pepper (if using), and parmesan cheese (optional) to the pot then stir together. Divide the pasta onto separate plates and garnish with fresh basil. Serve warm and enjoy!

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days. The zucchini will produce a little bit of water as it sits but you can just pour it out before reheating.

Recipe courtesy of Making Thyme for Health

Honey Siracha Glazed Turkey Meatballs

Trying to eat healthy can be hard if you get bored of having the same foods all the time. Let's face it, there's nothing exciting about having chicken breasts and steamed green beans everyday. But I am here to offer you a solution! We're going to get a little creative while still making sure to include lean protein, veggies, and whole grains in this meal. Say goodbye to chicken and broccoli and "hello" to honey-siracha glazed meatballs!

This recipe is not only "clean" as far as ingredients go, but it is also high in protein, low in fat AND a great way to sneak in an extra serving of vegetables ;)

You see the rice these beautiful meatballs are served on? That's actually half cauliflower! Just chop up about 1/2-1 cup of cauliflower into small pieces, and let it steam on top of your rice during the second half of cooking. It's that simple! It adds an extra dose of veggies for those picky eaters AND volume to help fill you up. Now on to those meatballs...

Honey Siracha Glazed Meatballs

Served with steamed broccoli & over Cauli-rice (described above). Serves 2. 

Ingredients

  • 1 package (28g) Siracha Enlightened Crisps*
  • 2 tbs (24g) egg whites
  • 8 oz (224) extra lean ground turkey
  • 1 tsp (7g) honey
  • 2 tsp (8g) siracha
  • 2 tbs (30ml) soy sauce
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a small baking tray with aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray and set aside as you make your meatballs.
  2. For the Meatballs: Crush Enlightened crisps until fine.* Combine with egg whites and ground turkey, and mix thoroughly with your hands. Form into 1-inch balls and place on baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, rotating halfway through.
  3. To make the glaze: In a small dish combine remaining ingredients. Microwave for approximately 15-20 seconds, or until honey melts. Stir until combined and drizzle over meatballs.
  4. Serve over rice or noodles, drizzling remaining glaze over top.

*I used a magic bullet to get the crisps to the right consistency, but I'm sure a food processor, blender, or even crushing them in a plastic bag would work as well.

*As an alternative, you can use breadcrumbs (about 1/3-1/2 cup) instead of the Enlightened crisps. Make sure to season though! The crisps are very flavorful, so without them you will want to at least use some salt & pepper.


If you’d like to buy Enlightened crisps (they sell ice cream too), I’ve recently started seeing them pop up in my local grocery stores, Walmart, Sprouts etc. You can also use their online store locator here OR you can order directly from their site using the discount code “MiniBeast20” for 20% off :)

~Mandy

Single Serving Recipes - Sweet & Savory!

I don't know about you, but my personal belief is that living a healthy lifestyle is all about balance. You don't have to eliminate all of your favorite "junk" foods to be healthy or lose weight! Enjoying them in moderation is key. Which is why I have compiled a few single serving recipes of typical comfort foods we often crave. Hopefully by trying some of these recipes, you can satisfy that craving you've been having and get back to some more wholesome fruits and veggies ;) 

Keep in mind: these recipes aren't necessarily meant to be "healthy," instead they are made in smaller portions to enjoy as an occasional treat.


Single Serving Savory Recipes

Mac & Cheese

  • 2 oz (about 3/4 cup) uncooked whole wheat macaroni or other pasta 
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 1/4 cup 1% milk
  • 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 oz (about 1/2 cup lightly packed) shredded gouda cheese
  • tiny pinch cayenne pepper, or more depending on heat preference
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Whisk in the flour for 30 seconds. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth & thickened, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat. Add in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and gouda; whisk until melted and smooth. Season to taste with cayenne, salt, and pepper.
  4. Toss the pasta with the cheese sauce and spoon into an individual oven-proof bowl or dish.
  5. Toss panko breadcrumbs, olive oil, and a tiny pinch of Kosher salt together in a small bowl; scatter evenly over the top of the pasta.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the breadcrumb topping is crisp and golden.

Pizza Dough (Free to top as you desire!)

  • ½ cup bread flour
  • ¼ cup warm tap water (minus 1 TBS)
  • ½ tsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp bread machine or rapid rise yeast
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • Salt *see note
  1. Turn your oven on for a few minutes then turn it off -this is the warm (but not hot) place you will keep your dough to rise.
  2. Add the flour, yeast, oil and sugar to a heat safe bowl. Get warm tap water or warm some in the microwave. You want it to be about the temperature you would feel safe giving to a baby! Add half of the water to the mixture and stir. It should start to combine. Continue to slowly add the water and continue to mix until it comes together. You will most likely not need the whole ¼ cup of water. *See note on salt now.
  3. Put a little bit of flour on your counter and work/knead your dough so that it forms a good dough ball. You may need more flour or more water to get the consistency just right.
  4. Place the ball back into the heat safe bowl you mixed it in. Loosely cover it with plastic wrap so that air will not dry out the ball but it won't restrict the ball from rising. Place the bowl in warmed oven for about 30 minutes.
  5. Once dough has doubled in size, it is ready for use.

*Note: It is important to remember that salt deactivates yeast, but is an important flavor component in bread. Since this is such a small amount of dough, there is no good measurement. Put a little salt in the palm of your hand and sprinkle it into the mixture once the yeast has been mixed a bit.


Single Serving Sweet Recipes

Chocolate Brownie (in a mug!)

  • 1/4 cup flour 
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp  cocoa 
  • Pinch of salt
  • Tiny pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup water 
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil or vegetable oil (NOT extra virgin olive oil, it's too strongly flavored)
  • 1 to 2 drops vanilla extract
  • 1 small scoop of ice cream or 1 or 2 teaspoons heavy whipping cream to serve
  1. Place flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, and cinnamon in a microwave safe ceramic mug. Stir with a fork or spoon to mix well and break up any clumps.
  2. Add the oil, water, and vanilla to the cup and stir until the mixture is smooth and there are no lumps.
  3. Place in microwave and heat on high until the mixture is cooked through, about a 1 minute and 40 seconds for a 1000 watt microwave. You may have to experiment and adjust the time for less or more powerful microwaves. If you don't know the power level on your microwave, start with 60 seconds and increase until the brownie is done. It should still be moist when cooked through, not dry.
  4. Let cool for a minute and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a teaspoon or two of whipping cream poured over.

Berry Cobbler

  • ½ cup berries or fruit of choice
  • 2 tbsp oatmeal
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar, slightly packed
  • 1½ tbsp softened butter
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of baking soda
  • a couple drops of vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place berries/fruit In a ramekin or other small baking dish
  3. In a separate bowl, Mix all other ingredients....oatmeal, flour, sugar, butter, salt, baking soda, and vanilla. Use your hand or a fork to make sure all ingredients are incorporated well.
  4. Sprinkle oatmeal mixture evenly over berries/fruit.
  5. Place ramekin on a baking dish (just in case it boils over a little bit) and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until topping is beginning to lightly brown.

Give these recipes a try and enjoy yourself a little! Living a healthy lifestyle is not about JUST eating whole foods; we all deserve a treat sometimes. 

~Mandy

Crispy Zucchini Chips

Summer is here and with that comes an abundance of fresh summer produce. Berries, avocados, corn, cherries, peaches, watermelon, tomatoes...the list goes on! My personal favorite summer produce is summer squash AKA zucchini. 

"Summer squash is a very good source of vitamin C, magnesium, dietary fiber, phosphorus, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin K. Additionally, it is a good source of vitamin B1, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, vitamin B2, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, choline, and protein."

Not only does it provide a multitude of health benefits, but zucchini and other summer squashes are incredibly versatile! They make it easy to sneak veggies into your diet and/or lower carbs if that's your goal. Check out these recipes for zucchini spaghetti and zucchini oatmeal that we've made in the past!

My new personal favorite way to prepare zucchini has been to make chips out of them! With the help of just a little seasoning and some oil, this squash turns into a deliciously crispy snack without the guilt! Vegan, gluten free, paleo, low carb, you name it! Everyone can enjoy this summer snack :)

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 tsp olive oil (or oil of choice, cooking spray works too!)
  • seasoning to taste

Directions 

*This recipe uses a dehydrator, continue below for an oven-friendly version

  1. Slice zucchini with a mandolin or some other uniform slicer. You will want your zucchini to be sliced evenly and thin. Cutting them by hand probably won't do it.
  2. Toss zucchini with oil (if using) and seasoning.
  3. Place evenly, in a single layer, on your dehydrator trays.
  4. Allow to cook for approximately 5-10 hours (depending on how thick your slices are) at 125 F. 

Oven-Friendly Version

Cook in an oven set at 250 F for about one hour. Check every 15 minutes. For the first 15 minutes, leave the door slightly cracked to allow steam and moisture to escape.

~Mandy

Vanilla Caramel Protein Cookies

Are you struggling to get enough protein per day? Or are you just looking for a healthier dessert alternative to satisfy your sweet tooth? If so, this recipe may be perfect for you! 

Vanilla caramel cookies that are only 50 calories each! Not to mention, they have over 6 grams of protein per cookie. You could easily eat the entire batch for only 300 calories and 38 grams of protein. That's better than a cookie you'll find anywhere else! 

A typical chocolate cookie is easily twice as many calories with negligible protein. And the protein cookies on the market? They're no better,! Averaging about 380-400 calories and 16 grams of protein for only one cookie. 

You may be wondering how this recipe is so high in protein, but still lower in calories AND tastes good. The secret ingredient? Beans. Yes, you read that right! Beans not only provide a healthy dose of protein and fiber, but they create an amazing, soft texture that helps form the base of these cookies. It may sound weird, but trust me, it works ;)

Vanilla Caramel Protein Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup white beans, drained and rinsed (navy, garbanzo, butter etc.)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 tbs egg whites (or one fresh egg white)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 scoop of your favorite protein (I used BPI Vanilla Caramel Whey)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Sweetener of choice (optional)*
  • Chocolate chips (optional but highly recommended)

The amount/kind of sweetener you use is really up to you. I have a big sweet tooth so I used about a Tbs of granulated stevia, but if you don't want things as sweet or if your protein is sweet enough as is, feel free to omit.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray.
  2. Blend together beans, pumpkin, egg whites and vanilla. You may need to add a splash of milk to make sure everything is completely smooth. 
  3. Mix in remaining ingredients until fully incorporated.
  4. Spoon on to prepared baking sheet, this made about 6 cookies for me. 
  5. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until no longer wet to touch. DO NOT over bake these as they can get dense/dry depending on the protein powder used. 

That's it! A healthy, high protein sweet treat that is guaranteed to kill those sugar cravings. Feel free to switch up the flavor of protein or add in different mix ins, it's up to you! I hope you give this recipe a try. Enjoy!

~Mandy

Quinoa Taco Bowls

Happy Cinco De Mayo! Whether you celebrate this Mexican holiday or not, I am of the opinion that it is always a good time for Mexican food. Especially when it's so easy to makeover into a healthy and nutritious meal! 

These taco bowls use quinoa instead of the traditional white rice which drastically ups the nutrition value. "Quinoa is naturally gluten free and contains iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E and fiber. It is one of only a few plant foods that are considered a complete protein and comprised of all pernine essential amino acids." Not to mention, it's delicious ;) 

Ingredients

  • 1½ c. dried quinoa
  • 3 c. water
  • 1 (1.3 oz.) package taco seasoning
  • 1 (14 oz.) can black beans
  • 8 oz. shredded cheese
  • 3 c. chopped lettuce
  • 1-2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 small can sliced black olives, drained
  • salsa
  • sour cream or plain greek yogurt

Instructions

  1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions.
  2. Stir in taco seasoning.
  3. Spoon flavored quinoa into bowls; add toppings as desired.

This recipe is incredibly easy to make and completely customizeable. Feel free to add whatever toppings you'd like! Maybe guacamole instead of chopped avocado? Some grilled chicken breasts for the meat eaters in your family? The options are endless! So get creative and get cookin' ;)

~Mandy

    Vegan Black Bean Burgers

    I don't know about you, but with the weather warming up, I've been itching to get outside and grill! While burgers and hot dogs are tempting, I personally prefer to keep it a bit healthier. Grilled chicken and veggie skewers are great options when I want something quick, easy and delicious. But when I want to get a bit creative, my go to is a homemade black bean burger! 

    Black bean burgers are lower in fat and higher in fiber compared to their meaty brethren. Plus, since you're making them from scratch, you know exactly what's in them and don't have to worry about added preservatives or fillers! Topped with some avocado and paired with some fresh watermelon, these burgers make a perfect healthy meal. 

    Black Bean Burgers

    Makes 4 patties. 

    Ingredients

    • 1 tbs olive oil
    • 1 onion, minced
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 carrots, shredded
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1/2 tsp coriander
    • 1/2 tsp chili powder
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne
    • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1/2 cup quick oats
    • 1 tbs soy sauce

    Instructions

    1. Heat olive oil in a pan. Add onion, garlic, salt and pepper and cook until translucent. Add carrots, cumin, coriander, chili powder, and cayenne pepper and cook until carrots are tender. Remove pan from heat.
    2.  In a bowl, mash the beans and add the carrot-onion mixture. Add oats and soy sauce and mix until fully combined.
    3. Form 4 patties with your hands and place on baking tray. Freeze for about 30 minutes to set.
    4. Cook patties in a pan over medium heat until lightly browned on each side. Serve on a toasted bun with toppings of your choice. I highly recommend avocado!

    ~Mandy

     

    Zucchini Noodle Lasagna

    Lasagna is one of those comfort foods that reminds me of home. And while it may taste delicious and make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, it's also a very heavy dish and makes me want to just take a nap! This isn't always a problem, but sometimes I'd like something a little lighter and healthier. That's precisely how I came up with this recipe!

    Zucchini Noodle Lasagna

    Whether you're looking to cut carbs, increase your veggie intake, or just looking for a healthier alternative to your favorite comfort food, this lasagna will do the trick!

    Ingredients

    • 1 lb extra lean ground turkey
    • 1-2 small zucchini (about 300 grams), thinly sliced lengthwise
    • 1 cup (244 grams) canned tomato sauce
    • 4 tbs (66 grams) tomato paste
    • Seasonings to taste: I reccommend basil, oregano, garlic, onions, and maybe even a little chili flake!
    • 1 cup (112 grams) shredded mozzarella cheese

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 F and spray a small (9x9) baking dish with non-stick spray.
    2. Brown turkey in medium skillet until fully cooked.
    3. While turkey browns, make sauce by combining tomato sauce and tomato paste in a medium bowl. Season to taste. 
    4. Once turkey is browned, add sauce and let simmer for a few minutes before removing from heat.
    5. In your prepared pan, layer turkey mixture, zucchini "noodles", and cheese. Repeat until all ingredients are used up. Mine was about 3 layers deep.
    6. Bake lasagna for about 20-25 minutes, or until zucchini is fully cooked.

    This recipe is EXTREMELY versatile! You can easily swap out the sauce for your own homemade sauce or your favorite store bought sauce. You could use 1/2 and 1/2 zucchini noodles to regular pasta noodles if you have a picky eater on your hands. You could use other vegetables! Maybe mushrooms or eggplant? You could also use different proteins. Maybe some leftover chicken you have on hand or some beans if you're vegetarian? 

    The possibilities are endless so get creative! Healthier recipes for your favorite dishes are easy to make, you just have to switch it up a little ;)

    ~Mandy

     

    Strawberry Cheesecake Bites (Vegan)

    I don't know about you, but strawberries are my absolute FAVORITE fruit, and its almost time for them to be in season again! I may have done a little happy dance when I saw that the strawberry stand by my house was open the other day ;)

    In order to celebrate, I thought it would be appropriate to make a healthy strawberry dessert! These strawberry cheesecake bites are not only perfectly portioned, but they are also vegan, gluten free, and paleo. Perfect for any diet!

    Strawberry Cheesecake Bites

    Ingredients

    For the crust:

    • 1½ cup raw almonds
    • 8-10 medjool dates
    • water

    For the cheesecake:

    • 2 cups raw cashews (soaked overnight)
    • 1½ cups fresh strawberries
    • ½ cup maple syrup
    • ⅓ cup coconut oil
    • Juice from 1 lemon
    • ½ tsp sea salt

    Instructions

    1. Drain and rinse the cashews. In a food processor, combine the dates and almonds. Slowly, a little at a time, add water until you see the mixture clump together. Once it looks like it's holding together, press a little bit into the bottom of each muffin cup. I used silicone muffin liners for these, but you can also use paper liners.
    2. Once all the crust is pressed into the muffin cups, place them in the fridge while you make the cheesecake part.
    3. In a food processor, combine all the cheesecake ingredients and blend until smooth. Spoon the cheesecake mixture into each muffin cup. Fill them to the top. Once you are done place them in the fridge to chill. They need a good 6 hours or so to set up pretty well. You can speed up the process by placing them in the freezer for a bit though. These can be stored in the fridge or freezer. Whichever you prefer. They should last a couple weeks in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer.

    I absolutely love this recipe! It's decadent, yet refreshing. A great spring or summer dessert that you don't have to feel guilty about :)

    Recipe Credit: My Whole Food Life

    Have you Heard of "Zoats"

    Have you ever heard of "zoats" AKA zucchini oats? It sounds kind of strange, but zucchini bread works! Adding zucchini to your oats isn't THAT far fetched ;) Who knows, it may just become your new favorite breakfast!

    Not only does the zucchini add a great hint of green, but it adds a TON of volume, fiber and nutrients. Zucchinis are very low calorie, containing so saturated fats or cholesterol. They are also a good source of potassium, containing moderate levels of B-complex vitamins like thiamine, pyridoxine, riboflavin and minerals like iron, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. 

    So what are you waiting for? Adding this simple ingredient to your morning bowl of oats will not only make a larger bowl (meaning you can eat less) but it will increase the fiber and nutrient content making you feel fuller longer. And I bet you won't even taste it ;)

    Ingredients

    • 1 part oats
    • 2 parts zucchini, shredded
    • 2 parts water
    • Optional mix-ins/toppings:
      • Cinnamon, protein powder, egg whites, nut butters, seeds, fruits, granola, honey etc.

    Instructions

    1. Combine oats, zucchini, water and a dash of salt in a small pot over medium heat. I used 1/3 cup oats, 2/3 cup zucchini & 2/3 cup water
    2. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally until water is absorbed. 
    3. Add optional mix-ins and serve with whatever toppings your heart desires!

    See, easy! I personally added egg whites and protein powder to this bowl of zoats, along with fresh blueberries and peanut butter on top. This bowl was low in sugar, high in protein and fiber and had me full for hours! It was the perfect pre-workout breakfast. 

    Black Bean Brownies

    You read that right, we're making brownies using black BEANS! It sounds crazy, but trust me, it works. 

    This crazy ingredient lends a great texture to the brownies without needing to add  a ton of butter or oil that traditional brownies call for. In addition, black beans provide a great source of fiber and protein. This is a dessert you don't have to feel guilty indulging in! 

    Ingredients

    • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 100 grams pumpkin puree (just under 1/2 cup)
    • 6 tbs cream cheese (can use fat free or vegan)
    • 2 whole eggs
    • 125 grams egg whites (or about 5 egg whites)
    • 40 grams oat flour (or 1/2 cup oats ground up in a blender/food processor)
    • 1 1/2 tbs honey
    • 2 tbs maple syrup (can use sugar free)
    • 1/2 square unsweetened bakers chocolate, melted and cooled
    • 6 tbs cocoa powder
    • 1/8 tsp salt
    • sugar or sugar substitute to taste, depending on how dark you like your brownies
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp almond extract (can use vanilla)
    • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (or more to taste)

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a large glass baking dish with nonstick spray.
    2. In a food processor or blender combine all ingredients (except for baking powder, soda and chocolate chips) until well combined
    3. Once combined, add baking soda and baking powder. Blend for just a few pulses.
    4. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
    5. Pour into prepared dish and bake for about 30 minutes. They will still be slightly soft and fudgey.
    6. Allow to cool and serve!

    I personally love mine slightly warmed up with a healthy drizzle of peanut butter on top ;)

    ~Mandy