Tag Archives: healthy

No-Sugar Added Pumpkin Pie

24 Nov

I was on a mission this weekend. A mission to create a dreamy, creamy, no-sugar added pumpkin pie. I have been dreaming up this pie for a couple weeks now.

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The hubs was traveling and I decided to dedicate my weekend to making my dream a reality.

 

 

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Cold weather in the Mitten = me wanting to crank on my oven, bust out the sugar, butter, and eggs and get my groove on in the kitchen. While this is mentally and emotionally comforting, physically, it doesn’t do the body good.

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I’m all about moderation in the food we eat. When the temperatures drop, I crave comfort food. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the warm comfort  of my Paper Bag Apple Pie, slathering some butter on my Maple-Thyme Parmesan Biscuits, or indulging in some Toasted Oatmeal Scones…once in a while. Usually the moderation part comes easily for me but when the wind chills plummet to below zero and the snow piles a foot high before Thanksgiving? I find balance in my diet a lot harder to achieve. I feel like us midwesterners deserve these foods. We deserve the comfort, the aroma, the melt-in-your-mouth goodness of these treats.

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Since this winter looks like it is going to be a long one, I have decided that I should start tweaking some of the comfort foods I make so they are a little friendlier on the waist-line.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been focusing on cutting back sugar in my cooking/baking. Sometimes it’s a total success, as it was with this pumpkin pie and sometimes it’s a total failure, as in the time I tried to cut the sugar by half in a brownie recipe and we were basically gnawing on cardboard. You win some and you lose some.  Luckily, I won some with this pumpkin pie and you will, too!

No-Sugar Added Pumpkin Pie

Serves 8

Note: It’s important to keep an eye on the edges of your crust as this pie bakes. As you can tell from my photographs, I got distracted and my crust got a little burnt. Use tin foil folded over the edges of your pie to prevent them from burning while your pie finishes baking. 

For the Crust:

1 1/4 cups pecan halves

1/2 cup ground flaxseed

1/4 teaspoon salt

11 Medjool dates, pitted

1 tablespoon vanilla

For the Pie Filling

11 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked in warm water for 15 minutes

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1/16 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon cloves

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. Grease a pie plate with coconut oil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse pecans, flaxseed, and salt together until it forms a fine meal. Add the dates and vanilla and pulse until combined.

3. Firmly press the crust into a greased pie plate. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

4. Add all of the pie filling ingredients into a high speed blender. Turn blender on lowest setting and quickly increase to high. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute.

5. Pour pie filling into crust. Smooth the filling using an offset spatula. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Allow pie to set out for 3 hours before serving.

 

Oatmeal Cookie Dough Balls

5 Oct

I’m going to play “dietitian” for a minute here…

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One of the messages that I try to get across to people when they are trying to make healthy lifestyle changes is that once you get away from sugar-laden goods or salty snacks and make them an occasional treat, you won’t crave them as much anymore.

When you get out of the habit of having a bowl of ice cream every night, you begin to realize that you don’t feel your best when you eat it. When you get away from snacking on salty treats all day, when you do treat yourself to a bag of potato chips, they might taste overly salty. A lot of our cravings and food “addictions” are acquired. The more sugar or salt you eat, the more you want it, and the more you need to satisfy that craving.

So, now you’re asking, “What should I do when I get a craving for my daily cookie or sweet treat?”

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I never said you have to restrict yourself.

You should make these oatmeal cookie dough balls.

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They are sweetened with dates and are packed with healthy fats and good-for-you fiber. They are a cinch to make and make you feel like you are eating oatmeal cookie dough right out of the bowl.

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Oatmeal Cookie Dough Balls

Makes 12 balls

1/2 cup rolled oats

10 Medjool dates, pitted

1/4 cup almonds

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch of salt

1. Add all ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until combined.

2. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and place them on a lined cookie sheet.

3. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 20 minutes. Place balls in a bag for storage. I stored them in the freezer so they hold their shape.

4. Enjoy when a craving for dessert hits 🙂

Tomato Tart for Two (or more)

28 Aug

I have been like a little kid in the candy store lately.

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I literally cannot wait until Saturday mornings. My recent Saturday morning routine has been as follows:

I wake up at the crack of dawn (sans alarm) like a kid on Christmas morning. I sip on a cup of coffee while I map out my strategy for the farmer’s market (when you stop at the vendor with the plump juicy peaches and then continue on to the vendor with  your favorite 5 pound bag of potatoes which are placed on top of your peaches, you no longer have edible peaches…lesson learned the hard way). Next, I jump into the car as the butterflies build in my stomach…I’m almost there! As I make my way through the farmer’s market, my game face is on. I tend to do a once (or twice) over to figure out what I want to get. I begin drooling as I head from vendor to vendor looking at the fresh picked blueberries, the crisp red apples, the bountiful flowers, and the tomatoes! Oh, the tomatoes! I can’t take my eyes off of them! I giddily go up to each vendor, chat about the new crop, make my purchases, pick up some flowers with any cash leftover, and head home to unload the goods. I usually spend the better part of my weekend creating dreamy dishes with my #farmersmarketfinds.

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I ended up with a surplus of tomatoes this past week. Surprisingly, I went through them all and I need to restock this Saturday. That’s in part because of this delicious tomato tart I made over the weekend. This tart is three things:

1. Easy on the eyes.

2. Simple.

3. D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.

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This tart is the perfect example of using good quality ingredients to get a tasty result.

Tomato Tart for Two (or more)

Adapted from Taste of Home

Note: the portions listed below are for a 4×4 casserole dish. You can easily fit this into an 8×8 dish or a 9×16 dish; just adjust the size of your sheets of phyllo and increase the amounts of other ingredients. The portion sizes in parenthesis are for a 9×16 pan. 

7 sheets of phyllo dough, cut to fit the size of your pan

2 tablespoons olive oil (1/3 cup)

3 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese (1/2 cup)

1/4 sweet onion, sliced very thin (1 onion)

3 small tomatoes, sliced thin (about 10 small tomatoes, or 4 larger tomatoes)

1 teaspoon fresh chives, minced (1 tablespoon)

1 teaspoon fresh basil, minced (1 tablespoon)

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)

Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush casserole dish with olive oil to prevent tart from sticking.

2. Begin layering the phyllo dough and goat cheese. Place one sheet of phyllo dough in the bottom of the pan, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with goat cheese. Keep remaining sheets of phyllo dough covered with a clean damp kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out. Repeat with the remaining sheets of phyllo dough.

3. Top final layer of phyllo dough with parmesan cheese, sliced onions, tomatoes, chives, basil, salt and pepper. Fold over any phyllo dough that is hanging over the edge of your dish.

4. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, until tart is browned (baking time may be longer depending on the size of your tart).

 

Mexican Roasted Chickpeas

4 May

Hello hello. I have been MIA and I apologize. It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks with another whirlwind week ahead. I had some quality family time over Easter and some quality sister time soaking up the sun in Florida. The hubby and I head on a West coast adventure later this week. All exciting things that have left me with very little time to cook or blog!

I thought I’d sneak in a quick post just in time for Cinco de Mayo.

I love roasted chickpeas. They satisfy the need for a crunchy snack and are full of protein and fiber. You can easily season them how you like. These Mexican roasted chickpeas are the perfect healthy way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

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The inspiration for these chickpeas came from these delicious lentil tacos. I tossed a can of chickpeas with the spice mixture from the tacos and some vegetable oil, popped them in the oven and waiting while they roasted to perfection.

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My favorite way to enjoy these was atop a clean version of a taco salad. I tossed together some romaine, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced green onions, crushed Beanito chips, avocado, and topped with some olive oil and lemon juice…yum yum yum.

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Mexican Roasted Chickpeas

Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons ancho chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Adjust oven rack to upper middle position. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

2. In a small bowl, combine spices. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, toss chickpeas with vegetable oil. Add spice mixture and toss until chickpeas are well coated.

4. Spread chickpeas into a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast in oven for 35-45 minutes until crispy, tossing or stirring chickpeas every 15 minutes.

 

Loaded Quinoa Cookies (vegan)

25 Mar

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I’ve mentioned before that I love snacking…specifically the kind that makes you feel like you’re “splurging” but you’re really getting loads of good-for-you ingredients. I especially love that kind of snacking when it’s neatly packaged into a cookie.

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These loaded quinoa cookies do just that.

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The cooked quinoa adds satisfying protein that make these cookies great for an on-the-go breakfast or a tasty snack.

Feel free to add whatever mix-ins you have on hand. The first time I made these cookies, I used a jar of odds and ends mix-ins I had been collecting. The tablespoon of pistachios leftover from making granola, the 1/4 cup of shredded coconut leftover from making banana bread, and the handful of chocolate chips left from making cookies. I’ve made these cookies a few times and use a different combination each time. My favorite combination included pistachios, toasted coconut flakes, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, and chocolate chips.

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Leave a comment below with the mix-ins you tried. Happy snacking 🙂

Loaded Quiona Cookies

Makes 18 cookies

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup agave nectar

2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa

3/4 cup mix-ins (any type of nut, dried fruit, chocolate chips)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, combine peanut butter, coconut oil, agave nectar, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix until ingredients are well incorporated.

3. Add whole wheat flour, salt, and baking soda and mix just until combined. Fold in quinoa and other mix-ins.

4. Roll dough into 2-inch balls and place on a lined cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Using you fingers, gently press dough balls until flattened. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Go-To Green Drink

17 Mar

Another one of my favorite things: starting my morning with a refreshing clean green smoothie.

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Every now and then I decide to mix it up, but I have a new go-to smoothie that I can’t get enough of in the morning.

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Going along with the “green theme” for St. Patty’s Day, I found it appropriate to post this recipe today. Also, you might appreciate this smoothie tomorrow morning in case you have one too many adult green beverages tonight!

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Here’s the run down on the goods:

Almond milk: low calorie, flavorful source of calcium (as long as it’s fortified)

Banana: great source of potassium; perfect for getting rid of excess water weight from St. Patty’s Day!

Celery, Carrots, Cucumbers, Spinach: hydration, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron

Mango: Fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A

Fresh ginger: may help relieve indigestion

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Go-To Green Drink

Makes 2 servings (about 1 cup each)

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1/2 banana, peeled

2 stalks celery, cut into 4 pieces

1 large carrot, cut into 4 pieces

1/2 cup cucumber, peeled and cut into large chunks (about 1/2 of a large cucumber)

2 cups spinach

1/2 cup frozen mango

1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger

Place ingredients into blender in the order listed. Turn blender on, increase speed to high and blend for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes until well blended. Add ice if desired.

 

 

 

Greek Farro Salad

14 Mar

Another favorite thing of mine is simple ingredients.

I was craving a hearty, fresh, salad with a grain base.

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I had picked up some farro from Trader Joe’s. I had a ton of fresh veggies that I couldn’t wait to bite into. I had some feta cheese that was begging to be a topping on my salad. I was thinking about what to do for a dressing. I decided to keep it simple. With good ingredients, there’s no need to get too fancy with anything.

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Let the flavors shine through!

I was also dreaming of summer (as another foot of snow was being dumped on us…I’m not complaining though!) and a salad made with refreshing veggies was just the thing.

You can feel great about eating this salad. It makes a great main dish or the perfect side dish to accompany your meal. The farro is a whole grain with a satisfying chew to it. The chickpeas are a great source of fiber and protein. The olive oil gives you a daily dose of omega-3’s. And who can complain about a colorful array of veggies?

Bite into this salad and dream of warm summer nights, pool parties, and flip flops!

Greek Farro Salad

Note: The cucumbers don’t keep their fresh bite after the second day. I would recommend keeping them separate and adding them to your salad if you don’t plan to enjoy it all the first couple days.

Makes 6 cups

3 cups cooked farro (I used Trader Joe’s)

1 cup cucumbers, chopped

1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half

3 scallions, white and light green parts, sliced thin

2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1. Add farro, tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, feta, and chickpeas in a large bowl. Stir to combine.

2. Add olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Stir to combine. Add more salt to taste. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

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