It’s that time of year again. In just a little over two weeks, Halloween will be here and with it comes the piles of candy and temptation. Then, just when you think you can finally say goodbye to the last Reese’s, Thanksgiving pops up. Yup, it’s that time of year that we all love celebrating, but dread the results that it has on our waistlines. So what can you do to avoid this inevitable weight gain? Well first, stop thinking it’s inevitable! You don’t have to gain weight over the holidays, but if you decide in advance that you will, well guess what – you definitely will!
I’ll tell you a secret- I love sweets! Yup, I have chocolate chips and cookies in the house right now. If it were up to me, these foods wouldn’t be in my house at all because I have no willpower. If I’m around candy for too long, I eat it. Sound familiar? I know there are some people who could care less about sweets and desserts (and I hate them just a little for it), but I think sugary treats really do tempt most of us. So what’s the solution? Definitely don’t ban yourself from them. That’s actually the WORST thing you can do. Why? Think about it this way – imagine I just told you that you could NEVER have ice cream again. Were you thinking about ice cream a minute ago? Probably not. But let me guess, now you feel like raiding your locally grocery store and stock piling every pint of Ben & Jerry’s you can get your hands on, right? Deprivation does that. So don’t deprive yourself or you will definitely go overboard and gain weight during the holidays.
So what can you do? Treat yourself! Yup- go ahead -indulge, but before you do, just give your favorite treats a little bit of a makeover. I’ll tell you a quick little story – one of my favorite holiday treats used to be a Cinnabon. This was before I learned how to read a food label and the horror that I experienced when I discovered what was really in my favorite Christmas morning breakfast. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have eaten an occasional one since that sad, sad day of revelation, but it hasn’t tasted quite the same knowing the reality of how much sugar and fat it really contains.
As sad as that story I just told you is, it that doesn’t mean I don’t still crave an ooey-gooey warm cinnamon roll. I’d eat one everyday if I could. So that’s why this holiday season I decided to find a better way to enjoy my favorite treat. With a little research and experimenting, I came up with a version I think is on par with the mall food court version with a quarter of the calories. And the best part- no added sugars! What?! Yup- no added sugar- even in the icing! So this recipe is even perfect for those trying to lose weight or control blood sugar with diabetes. And it gets better- you can make it in minutes in the microwave! Yes! This is actually a mug cake recipe. If you don’t know what that is, you are missing out on a big, delicious trend (and don’t worry, I only discovered this trend like a week ago myself). To sum it up, you can make individual serving size cakes in a coffee mug – in the microwave! So amazing! I will definitely try to come up with more of these little cakes, but today, I share with you my very first mug cake recipe – Skinny Cinnamon Roll Mug Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Get ready to get excited about breakfast (or lunch, or dinner, or any meal really- it’s healthy enough you can enjoy it anytime you want!)
- ¼ cup oat flour
- 2 Tbs rolled oats
- ¼ cup mashed banana
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup lowfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp Truvia
- Medjool dates, 1, pitted (you can get these right in the produce section of any grocery store)
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 Tbs fat free cream cheese
- 2 Tbs low fat Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)
- ½ tsp Truvia
- 1/8 tsp vanilla
Spray a large mug (or two small mugs) with non-stick cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix together oat flour, rolled oats, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and Truvia. Add in mashed banana and yogurt to form dough. In a separate bowl, mash the date and add in cinnamon and salt (you can also do this in a food processor and add in a bit of water for a thinner textured filling if desired).
Place ½ of dough into the mug. Pour ¾ of date filling on top and then add remaining dough. Cover with the remaining filling. Microwave on high for 60-90 seconds or until cooked throughout.
While mug cake is baking, mix together cream cheese, Greek yogurt, vanilla, and Truvia in a small bowl or food processor. Top cinnamon roll with icing when warm. Remaining icing can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Makes 2 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving):
186 Calories 32 gm Carbs, 3 gm Fiber, 8gm Protein, 2 gm Fat
I can’t wait to hear what you think!
This past Saturday (October 1st) was National Homemade Cookie Day. For those of you who may have missed it, I say why celebrate homemade cookies just one day? I would be happy to celebrate cookies any day of the week! My family loves a good cookie (and so do I), but traditional cookie recipes packed full of added sugars, refined flours, and saturated fats are not exactly the most nutritious food to eat each day. However, with a few simple tweaks, you can make a delicious cookie recipe that you can actually feel good about eating more than just ‘occasionally.’
One of my new favorites is this Whole Wheat Pumpkin Walnut Cookie recipe. Since pumpkin season is here and pumpkin recipes are on the rise, I decided to make light and fluffy pumpkin walnut cookies that have less fat, less calories and more nutrients than your average cookie! By substituting ½ an avocado for ½ the butter, I was able to reduce the overall content of saturated fats while boosting both the fiber and nutrient content of the recipe. Swapping whole grain flour for an all-purpose flour further increases the fiber content of the cookie while boosting nutrients such as iron and B vitamins. Adding in walnuts and sunflower kernels ups the protein content and provides a good boost of plant-based fats for added health benefits.
These cookies are a great way to treat your family and friends to the taste of fall while providing them with nutrition you can feel good about.
Whole Wheat Sunflower Walnut Pumpkin Cookies
Makes 32 cookies
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- ½ avocado, mashed
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/3 cup sunflower kernels
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Mix sugar, pumpkin, butter and mashed avocado in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and salt. Stir in walnuts and sunflower kernels.
- Drop dough by teaspoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly brown. Remove from cookie sheet and allow them to cool.
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
Serving Size = 1 cookie
Carbohydrates: 9 grams
Fiber: 2 grams
Fat: 5 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Want more healthy cookie recipes? Make sure to check out all of my recipe creations over on my Instagram page!
It’s that time of year again- back to school time! Sure, it may seem like having the kids in school all day will give you a bit for free time to devote to planning and preparing nutritious meals, but that isn’t always the case. Before I had my son, I had this idea in my head that when I went back to work and he headed off to daycare, that you basically just drop your child off, kiss and hug them, and then spend the rest of the day working. I didn’t really give thought to the time needed to plan out lunches and snacks for the day, clean out the lunch boxes from the night before, prep healthy breakfasts we could eat before we head out in the morning, and find time to prepare a healthy dinner as well. Honestly, those first few weeks of adjusting to a new schedule stressed me out more than I could have ever expected. And I think many parents feel the same way.
Whenever you and your family are adjusting to a new schedule, such as the one at the start of the school year, it’s normal to feel a bit stressed and overwhelmed. I see this in so many of my client. That first week or two of the new school year is pretty much a whirlwind filled with grabbing meals and snacks mindlessly on the run. If this sounds like you, I wanted to help take away some of that stress. That’s why I teamed up with my friends over at Chobani to develop my top five quick-fix lunches for all of you busy moms out there. These simple lunches can be pulled together in minutes and are packed full of the healthy nutrients that your little ones needs. Feel free to mix and match these options up for a well-balanced, stress-free start to the school day.
Some kids are more snackers than meal eaters. I get this since I am more likely to graze on food throughout the day than to sit down to a big meal. For snack lovers, try using a compartmentalized bento box to offer a variety of bite sized options. The small portions and increased variety are a great way to prevent your child from feeling ‘overwhelmed’ at mealtime. This is also a great way to introduce new foods in kid-friendly portions. For a balanced lunch, pair together a whole grain muffin, carrot sticks with hummus for a dip, turkey breast, strawberries, and almonds. To save time, spend one day per week washing and slicing variety of fruits and vegetable so you can just grab and go when packing a lunch. For mini muffins, I usually make these in batches of 24 and freeze them. If you pop one in the lunchbox in the morning, it will typically thaw by lunchtime. Round out the lunch with an adorable Doc McStuffins squeezable pouch of Chobani Kids, which contains two times as much protein than the leading kid’s yogurt and 25% less sugar. With a varied lunch such as this one, even if your child does not finish all the foods offered, you can still feel reassured that she consumed a variety of essential nutrients.
If you are packing meals for daycare, it can be easy to run out of ideas for soft food options that provide your little one with the nutrition that he needs. For toddlers, adequate protein, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids are essential for development and growth. That’s why I love this combination of applesauce, diced butternut squash, whole grain tortellini, and a broccoli & carrot quiche for a mix of antioxidants, protein, and fiber. To round out the lunchbox, I add in a squeezable Chobani yogurt, which is made with only natural, non-GMO ingredients, real fruit, and provides 12mg of DHA omega-3 fatty acids to help promote healthy brain development.
Picky Eater Perfection
If you have a picky eater at home, you are probably no stranger to having your child’s lunchbox return home after the school day completely untouched. To make lunch more appealing to even the pickiest child, liven it up by adding a mix of fun shapes and colors. It doesn’t have to take long to make a ‘fun’ lunchbox. I use a combination of colorful silicone shapes to hold bite-sized snacks along with cookie cutters to decorate sandwiches, fruits, vegetables, and even cheese slices. For the best results, look for the cookie cutters that have a spring-loaded punch. These can cut through more challenging foods like bread and vegetables much more quickly than the standard cutters. Sometimes all it takes is a touch of food art to turn the pickiest eater into an adventurous eater.
The goal of your child’s lunch should be to fuel both her body and her mind. One way to accomplish this is to make sure to include at least one or two “brain foods” into even lunchbox. Foods rich is omega 3 fatty acids such as fish, walnuts, edamame, and Chobani Tots which contains 12 mg of DHA Omega 3 per serving, can make great additions to any meal. Round these brain foods out with antioxidant-packed fruits and vegetables and you have a delicious recipe for academic success. For a quick and easy lunchbox, pack together a tuna sandwich on whole grain bread along with a handful of walnuts, blueberries, and edamame. Toss in a Chobani Tots squeezable yogurt for an added boost of DHA.
The Chocolate Lover
Do you have a chocolate lover? I do and sometimes it can be a challenge to get him to eat a meal without the constant begging for “dark treats” as he likes to call chocolate chips. So why not give him what he wants? Of course I don’t mean feed your child chocolate every lunch, but you can incorporate it in a healthy way to make both mom and child happy (and in our house this makes my junk-food loving husband quite happy as well).
I take Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt, which contains no artificial preservatives, sweeteners, or flavors, and top it with a small sprinkling of mini dark chocolate chips. This makes the perfect ‘dessert’ for any meal while providing a good source of protein and calcium. You can even try mixing one teaspoon of 100% cocoa powder into one cup of Chobani for a delicious chocolate ‘mousse.’
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Chobani. All opinions are my own.