Tag Archives: healthy

A healthy dessert alternative – Dark Chocolate Frozen Coconut Bites

19 Aug

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I love me some coconut. And not just food, coconut everything. Coconut oil, candy, body wash, body spray, shampoo, soap, candles, beverages. You name it. I haven’t met something with coconut anywhere in the description that I didn’t like. Seriously. As many of you have picked up, I am working to lead a healthier lifestyle. That doesn’t mean I don’t eat well or live a good life. I still enjoy food, and the whole act of eating. I just choose to make better choices. Organic as often as I can, growing and preserving as much food as possible, and doing much of my cooking from scratch. I have cut back on my beer consumption since that and too large portions are what contributed to my weight gain (fall beers are starting to arrive though, so I’ll have to be strong!!!) I don’t follow any particular diet or eating fad. I’m not gluten free, paleo or vegan. I like meat. I like dairy. I like bread. I don’t stop myself from eating the things that I like, I just limit myself to how much I’m eating. I’ve stopped boredom snacking. When I have a craving for something that may not be the healthiest food choice, I wait a few days. If I still have the craving, I indulge in a small bit of whatever it is I have a hankering for. Like a slice of pie, or a piece of cake. If the craving goes away, it was just a random craving. I certainly don’t exercise as often as I should. My days have been pretty busy as of late with cleaning, gardening, and taking care of my 10lb back surgery dog. So I’m not sitting around. I have actually lost 10lbs of the 30 that I want to lose, and that is mostly with diet changes. It’s amazing how great it feels when a pair of pants that had previously not fit FIT. Like you can button them up and not struggle to breathe. There is no muffin top or unsightly bulge. It’s a total victory. I’m not FAT, but I’m certainly not at my healthiest weight. So this lifestyle change is working, and I can see results. Therefore I choose to continue making healthy food choices. BUT…that doesn’t mean this girl doesn’t want something sweet from time to time. And I don’t think it’s too much to ask to have it be a healthy sweet treat. Enter in the Dark Chocolate Frozen Coconut Bites – aka Coconut Klondike. Coconut is a healthy fat to ingest. Coconut oil has so many benefits I won’t even go into listing them all here. Dark chocolate is also beneficial. One of these little Coconut Bites satisfies a craving without blowing your daily progress and on a hot day, the frozen texture of them helps give you a mini cool down. I love that they are a 2 bite treat (on if you are a man and toss the whole thing in your mouth), there are no added sugars, no processing, no ingredients that can’t be pronounced or identified. They are actually a HEALTHY treat!!!  Go figure!

Your yield for these can vary depending on how much you fill up those muffin liners. I got 30, but know I could have gotten less if I would have packed in the coconut. I also chose to add in some more of the shredded coconut – probably 1/4 cup more so I got a larger yield. The original recipe called for making these in the standard size muffin papers but I chose to do mini so having 2 would feel like a real indulgence.

If you like coconut, are trying to be healthy, or both definitely give these a try. I’m so glad I did!

Dark Chocolate Frozen Coconut Bites

Dark Chocolate Frozen Coconut Bites

Yield 20-30

Adapted from PaleOMG

 

Ingredients

1 ½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut

½ cup coconut butter

½ cup organic coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1 bag dark chocolate chips

In the bowl of your food processor, add all of your ingredients with the exception of the dark chocolate chips. Blend it until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed and you have a silky texture with bites of coconut.

Line your mini muffin pan with paper liners, adding a scoop of coconut mixture smashing down the mix with the back of a spoon to level it. You will fill your liners ¾ of the way full, leaving room for chocolate.

After filling all of your muffin cups, melt your chocolate chips. To melt, I used a double boiler, but you can also use the microwave if you want to do it quicker.

Top each coconut cup with melted chocolate until tops are completely covered.

When done, place muffin pan in the freezer for 20 minutes until coconut cups are set and firm. Remove from freezer, transfer to an air tight container and store in freezer.

When you want to eat one, remove it from the freezer and let sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes to let the coconut and chocolate soften a little.

When the garden gives your zucchini, make Chocolate Zucchini Bread!

12 Aug

 

 

One of the joys of having a vegetable garden is that you know exactly what went on in the growing of those veggies. The other joy is getting virtually free food, right from your own back (or side) yard, from space that would otherwise be grass or weeds. This year, I planted about 10 total squash plants.  A mix of crookneck, zucchini, and what I THOUGHT were yellow squash but turned out to be mislabeled croocknecks. Production was going pretty good once the bees started pollinating the flowers, but the plants are all now starting to die and will need ripped out and replaced with a second crop of squash – the butternut variety! But for right now, I still have a bin full of the zucchini and crooknecks, so I decided to whip up another batch of Chocolate Zucchini Bread. The first batch was delicious, and since it was such a hit, I decided to make another batch. Hopefully this round lasts a little longer.

This bread is moist and has a nice crumb without being soggy like some zucchini breads. The chocolate flavor from the cocoa powder is rich and deep without being overpowering. All in all, I’d say this bread is a winner in my book and will probably be made just one more time before I run out of zucchini.  The picture doesn’t do it justice. Seriously. You should make it just so you can see the loveliness that is this bread with your own eyes.

Enjoy!

chocolate zucchini bread

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

makes 2 loaves

adapted from Simply Recipes

  • 4 cups shredded zucchini
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour – I use King Arthur brand
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups Zulka Morena Pure Cane Sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup butter, melted

Place your shredded zucchini in a colander or sieve placed over a bowl and let drain for 30 minutes.

While your zucchini is draining, preheat your over to 350 degrees. Grease 2 loaf pans with butter and a little flour to prevent sticking

In a small bowl, add your flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and kosher salt. Whisk together until well blended, with no lumps.
In a large bowl, add your eggs and sugar, whisking until smooth. Add your vanilla extract, whisking until incorporated. Last, add your butter, and whisk until smooth.

Add your shredded and drained zucchini to your wet mixture, stirring to combine. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, stirring to combine completely after each addition.

Spoon the mixture into your 2 loaf pans, evenly divided between the two. Smooth out the tops with the back of your spoon so it’s level.

Place pans in oven for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely before slicing. Try not to devour it.

I don’t know how long this bread will last, other than a week since that is all the longer it took for the hubs to devour both loaves. Since it makes 2, you can store one in the freezer for later consumption. Just wrap in a double layer of plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn and store. To thaw, remove from freezer and place in fridge overnight.

Mmmmm…smoothies…..

11 Jul

Has anyone else noticed how stifling hot out it’s been? The other day, the weather dude said that oh, it hasn’t been that hot out. We haven’t reached a 90 degree day yet. If I was near mr. weather dude, I would have throat punched him. In western PA it doesn’t need to be 90 degrees out to be miserably hot. We have humidity thick enough that it feels like you are walking through sweat. Gross, I know.

Soooo….since it’s been so hot out, cold beverages and breakfasts are becoming a thing around our house again. Lots of salads, frosty glasses of iced tea (or vodka, lemon & water), ice cream cones. You know, cold stuff.

I admit that I’ve been lazing around in my bed for another 30 minutes after my alarm goes off. Because I’m cozy. The ceiling fan is going, the morning news is on. I just want to delay starting my day a bit. I still have plenty of time to get ready for work and be out the door, but it limits the amount of time I have to whip up myself breakfast. And this girl HAS to eat breakfast. Otherwise my blood sugar drops and the hunger turns to hanger. It’s bad for everyone. So, when I’m pressed for time, I whip up a smoothie. Combining protein powder, oatmeal, and plenty of fruit helps to make a filling, satisfying breakfast beverage. The oatmeal helps to thicken the smoothie without watering it down, and using frozen berries means I can skip the ice and won’t have a watered down smoothie 20 minutes later. Because I combine protein powder & oatmeal, I use this smoothie as a meal replacement. It’s filling, it tastes good, and is healthy for me! Be sure to experiment with the types of fruits and liquids you use. Add in some frozen banana slices, pineapple, mango, strawberries. Whatever! Just make sure it’s frozen since this helps you avoid adding ice.

Don’t want to commit to purchasing a protein powder? You don’t have to, but it certainly helps the smoothie to be more filling. Not sure where to purchase some of the ingredients listed? Click on the ingredient to be taken to the site where I purchase. The protein powder I use is a whey protein that is non-GMO, non-denatured, no growth hormones and no artificial sweeteners or ingredients. I have only tried the double chocolate flavor and it’s very good. The RAW superfood powder is organic and lets me get a dose of nutrients, vitamins and minerals from more veggies than I could pack into a smoothie (and veggies or grasses that I just wouldn’t otherwise eat). Both of the powders I add in last me about 2 months as I only have smoothies on weekdays, with the most being 5 per week, so it helps to offset the cost of buying the protein and RAW powders. I can honestly say I feel more energy in the mornings of having smoothie than I do with a couple of cups of coffee. Minus the jitters and the afternoon slump.

Give it a try!

berry breakfast smoothie

Chocolate Oatmeal Berry Breakfast Smoothie

1/4 cup oatmeal

1 1/2 teaspoons ground flax meal

1 cup frozen berries (I use a triple berry blend – blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)

1 cup coconut or almond milk

1/4 cup organic vanilla yogurt

4-5 drops  Sweet Leaf Stevia drops – optional

1 scoop Natural Factors Double Chocolate Whey Powder

1/2 scoop Garden of Life Perfect Food RAW Organic Chocolate Cocoa powder

In a blender, pulse your oatmeal and flax meal until it’s a powder. Add in your berries, coconut or almond milk, protein and RAW powders, and Stevia drops if using. Blend on high until everything is combined, 1-2 minutes. Blending for a longer time whips everything together and adds air, making the smoothie taste ridiculously creamy. If your smoothie is too thick, add a little more coconut or almond milk.

Pour into a glass, add a straw, and enjoy your breakfast beverage!

Mashed Potato Alternative – Garlic Cauliflower Mash

21 May

I have a confession to make – I love mashed potatoes. I have, on occasion, eaten a bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy for dinner. No lie. Just a big ‘ol cereal bowl of them. And I scraped that bowl clean. Not my best nutritional choice, but it was delicious, and I loved every single heaping bite on my fork. That being said, I am always up for trying new things and substituting one food item for another option. On Sunday, I cooked a whole chicken in the crock pot – it keeps the house from getting hot from the oven being on for 3 hours, minimum. It’s low energy use. And, it’s freaking EASY. And not to mention delicious. But we’ll talk about crock pot roast chicken another time…

Anyway, Sunday was a whole chicken for dinner kind of day. We were working out in the yard. And when you are working out in the yard, you don’t really have the time (or energy) to put into peeling, chopping, boiling, mashing potatoes. That is too much time, and too many steps. Enter in the Garlic Cauliflower Mash. This was AMAZING. Seriously. I could have devoured the whole bowl of this stuff, but decided I should probably eat some chicken, because it’s pretty amazing. When these are done being blended, they look just like mashed potatoes. Hubs even liked them. He said you could tell it wasn’t actual potatoes because they were not dense like mashed potatoes, but good, with lots of flavor. Fluffy, tasty, and one could be tricked into thinking they were potatoes whenever they are topped with gravy. I will be making these many  more times to come over the summer because these came together quickly. As in, like 15 minutes start to finish quick. They taste great the next day too. I almost didn’t share the leftovers with the hubs. Almost.

If you don’t have boursin cheese, you can sub in cream cheese. Just add in some extra chives, and a bit more garlic powder for the extra flavor. Don’t have an immersion blender? You can put the recipe into a food processor or blender, whatever you have on had. I would say that a potato masher will work too, but you won’t get the smooth texture that you get from blending them up. Don’t like cauliflower? Well then why in the hell are you reading this recipe???

 

garlic cauliflower mash

Garlic Cauliflower Mash

serves 4 as a side dish

1 medium head cauliflower
3 tablespoons garlic & herb boursin cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch of salt & pepper
1 tablespoon chives
1 tablespoon butter (optional)

Bring a medium pot of water to boil.

Wash and chop your head of cauliflower into chunks. Add to boiling water and cook for until fork tender, 6-10 minutes depending on the size of your chunks.

Drain well. While still hot, pat dry with paper towels, pressing down to squeeze out any excess moisture.

Add to a bowl with the boursin, garlic powder, salt & pepper, chives and butter if using. Add in the hot cauliflower, and using an immersion blender, mix until smooth. Serve immediately.

 

 

Healthy Meal Idea – Spinach & Bacon with White Beans

22 Apr

I’ve been on a blog hiatus recently. Not because I’ve been overly busy or anything. More like I’ve been trying to enjoy the lovely weather when it comes about. Catching up on some spring cleaning chores like cleaning out the chicken coop and run. Trying out new recipes, and revisiting old ones. I am always on a mission for easy, healthy, simple and QUICK meal ideas. Have you ever noticed that most of the easy meals tend to be unhealthy because you are either eating a premade meal made who knows when, preckaged stuff that has so many preservatives you feel almost pickled after, or it’s laden with fat to compensate for flavor? Blech. Enter in the Spinach & Bacon with White Beans. It’s fast. It’s tasty. It’s healthy. It’s LOW FAT. Even with the butter and bacon. Ya, that’s right. But it’s REAL butter. Not margarine. Not anything that’s 1 step away from being plastic. If you are going to ingest a fat, make it a natural one. BUTTER people. BUTTER. Say it with me….BUTTER. End rant.

Anyways, back to this meal. It’s filling. Because of the beans. That’s a lot of fiber. Good for you, keep you full fiber. It was delicious. No added salt or pepper was needed. I used precooked bacon because it’s quick, and it’s lower in fat and calories, and we always have some on hand. Don’t feel like you HAVE to. Don’t feel like you have to use bacon either – you could use some chopped country ham, prosciutto, salami. Whatever. And you can mix up the greens too – collard greens, mustard greens, kale. I just had a big ass container of spinach, which I happen to love, and wanted to use it up. Boy, I’m glad I whipped this up. I think hubs wished I made a double batch. He wanted more. So, I guess I should say this would serve 2 as a lunch sized portion. Double the recipe if you’ve got a big meal eating man in your life. Next time I make it I think I’ll cook up an egg over easy and top the greens & beans with that. And a little parmesan. Wow. I want that right now.

Spinach & Bacon with White Beans

Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a meal

Ingredients

1 pound fresh organic baby spinach

6 garlic cloves, minced

8 pieces pre cooked bacon, chopped

2 cans Great Northern or Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon REAL butter

shaved parmesan

Add butter to a large skillet, letting melt. Add in your garlic and bacon, cooking until bacon is crisp and garlic is starting to get a little crispy looking – about 3 minutes. Add your beans, tossing to coat with the bacon garlic butter mix. Keep tossing until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add your spinach, in batches if necessary, stirring the mixture around to let the spinach wilt and cook through.

Serve immediately, and sprinkle with some shaved parmesan cheese for an extra hit of flavor!

Raspberry Almond Breakfast Quinoa – Filling, GF, Vegan – and 4 days worth of breakfast!

13 Mar

Let’s face it. If you are a working stiff Monday – Friday, you can be hard pressed to eat a breakfast that is healthy, filling, and easily prepared the night before. Skipping breakfast is not an option for me, and it shouldn’t be for anyone else either. Breakfast is the meal that gets our motors running, our brains firing on all cylinders. Your body NEEDS fuel.  My fellow working stiffs need me to eat breakfast. Otherwise, by 11 am, hunger has mixed with anger, making me hangry…and things can get ugly. So unless I’m not feeling well, I eat breakfast. I’m trying to lose some weight, tone up, and make some adaptable life changes. Eating healthier. Now, I’m not doing a gluten-free diet. I am trying to cut out white pastas & breads, white rice, “whole wheat” pasta’s & breads that aren’t really all that more nutritious than plain old white bread. I’m working to incorporate more whole grains, more quinoa. I’m lucky in that I don’t HAVE to do GF. That my stomach won’t be in an uproar if I eat a sandwich on wheat bread. But I know so many people out there don’t have a choice but to be GF. And since so many people are having to adopt a gluten-free lifestyle, it makes gluten-free food items more readily available to the general population. A welcome side effect. Now, back to the recipe. I’ve been experimenting with quinoa, using it in place of rice and pasta where I feel it’s a good substitute. But everything I’ve been using it in thus far has been a savory dish. I wanted to try it in a sweeter option, like something for breakfast. I wanted to incorporate fruit, since I know that I’m not eating enough servings of it each day. I wanted the recipe to taste good, be healthy, but not lack flavor. I wanted it to be something I could make a big batch of, and reheat throughout the work week. Raspberry Almond Breakfast Quinoa was born. It’s quick and easy to make, has a small list of ingredients, and is a healthy, portable, filling breakfast option! I get 4 packed pint jars worth.

If you aren’t into using almond milk, you could totally replace it with your regular milk. I think chocolate almond milk would also be a tasty sub. Raspberries aren’t your thing? Try blueberries or strawberries in the same ratio. Or do a mix! Use fresh if you have them. I’m using berries that I froze over the summer. Based on the ingredients I used, this recipe is around 125 calories per serving, with maybe 2 grams of fat. You can also sprinkle on some cinnamon, or unsweetened cocoa powder for an extra flavor boost!

raspberry almond breakfast quinoa

Raspberry Almond Breakfast Quinoa

1 1/2 – 2 cups frozen raspberries

1 cup organic quinoa, rinsed thoroughly

1 1/4 cup organic vanilla almond milk

slivered almonds, about 1/4 cup – optional

Stevia to sweeten

In a medium saucepan, add your almond milk and 1 cup of the raspberries. Cook over medium heat until the raspberries start to soften and break apart. Add your quinoa, letting the mixture come back up to a boil. Simmer on low for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside for 10 more minutes. Once the mixture has cooled slightly and thickened, sweeten with Stevia to taste. I used about 1 1/2 teaspoons Stevia powder for mine to get it to the taste I wanted. Portion your quinoa mixture into pint mason jars, filling right up to the threaded part of the jars. Top each jar with the other cup of raspberries, sprinkling each jar with slivered almonds. Seal jars and store in fridge. You can reheat this on the stove, in the microwave, or enjoy it at room temp. Either way, it’s good!

raspberry almond breakfast quinoa closeup

Roasted Cabbage Wedges with Bacon & Onion

11 Feb

Hello my sarcastic followers! I’m not sure why, but I’ve been on a cabbage kick recently. Maybe it’s because of my Slovak background and I’m getting hungry for halushki. Maybe it’s because it’s cold out and since the chickens have limited access to greens, we always have a few heads of cabbage around so they can have a treat. Maybe it’s because I just spent a week in Las Vegas and ate and drank so much not so good for me stuff that I need a bodily reset back to healthy eating habits!!! Who knows. But I was wanting to come up with a way to eat cabbage that was healthier than good old-fashioned butter laden halushki, and tastier than steamed or no butter added sautéed cabbage. And the roasted cabbage wedge was born! It’s a very easy side dish to make. It’s relatively healthy (2 tablespoons of butter divided by 6 servings!). And even the leftovers are great. We ate this alongside a marinated pork tenderloin that cooked in the oven on the same baking sheet as the cabbage. Dinner was ready to eat in under an hour, including prep work and cook time. I would actually be perfectly content to eat these cabbage wedges on some egg noodles and have that as a meal. A lower fat sub for halushki!

Roasted Cabbage Wedges with Bacon & Onion

1 small head cabbage, cleaned and trimmed of any wilted leaves

2 tablespoons melted butter (do not use margarine!)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 slices precooked bacon, chopped

1 small Vidalia onion, sliced into half moons

kosher salt & pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut cabbage into single serving wedges, coring out the hard stem section. You should have about 6 wedges. Place them on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt your butter. To that bowl, add the olive oil and stir to combine. Using a pastry brush, brush each wedge of cabbage, focusing on the top parts since the butter/oil mixture will pool underneath the cabbage wedges.

Distribute chopped bacon and onion moons over each cabbage wedge, then sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.

Place in preheated oven and let cook for 35-40 minutes, until cabbage is cooked and getting nice and roasted. Onions will be brown/charred. Serve and enjoy!