Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and if you are like me, I’m sure you find those boxes of chocolates and little conversation heart candies incredibly tempting. There’s no reason to avoid Valentine’s Day treats all the time, but you also don’t want to have them every day. With February being National Heart, I thought it would be the perfect time to create a sweet treat that not only curbs those Valentine treat cravings, but also one that can boost heart health. So what did I come up with? The Strawberry Banana Sweetheart Smoothie! It’s a combination of my favorite smoothie ingredients along with foods that research has shown can be protective to the heart. And it’s even pretty and red, which makes it perfect for your Valentine’s Day menu!
Let’s take a look at the research behind the heart-healthy ingredients so you can see why I added them to the recipe:
Eating walnuts affects various heart health markers such as reducing total cholesterol, decreasing blood pressure, reducing inflammation and improvements in arterial function. (1)
Clinical research suggests that eating just a serving of eight strawberries a day may improve heart health, help manage diabetes, support brain health, and reduce the risk of some cancers. (2)
What better way to celebrate a day that’s all about love than taking care of your heart.
- 6 each strawberries frozen
- 1 medium banana frozen
- 1 ounce walnuts
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- whipped cream
- freeze dried strawberries
In a blender, combine strawberries, banana, walnuts, milk, orange juice and chia seeds. Blend until smooth.
Smoothie will be thick so add liquid for desired texture. Top with whipped cream and freeze-dried fruit. Enjoy!
Nutrition Facts Per Serving (without toppings)
143 calories, 22 g CHO, 6 g FAT, 3 g PRO, 82 mg sodium, 14 g sugar
- Heart Health. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2017, from https://www.walnuts.org/health-and-walnuts/health-research-initiatives/heart-health/
- California Strawberries. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2017, from http://californiastrawberries.com/health_and_nutrition
Today is National Blueberry Pancake Day. Yup, it’s a thing! As you probably already know, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. If you skip it, your more likely to have an increased appetite and an increase in cravings the rest of the day. Not to mention, skipping breakfast can drain your energy levels and even make it harder to think straight or be productive. Since I am already in a constant state of sleep deprivation thanks to my newborn, I don’t need anything to add to my lack of energy or forgetfulness. So yes, breakfast needs to be a priority, but it doesn’t need to be boring. I find myself making the same typical breakfasts day after day, so I decided to step up the creativity a bit.
In honor of National Blueberry Pancake Day, I thought I’d mix together two of my favorite breakfast options, yogurt and pancakes, to create a Blueberry Pancake Yogurt Parfait. I love a good yogurt parfait, but everything is better with pancakes, right? Since today is specifically about blueberry pancakes, I whipped up this creation with those little antioxidant packed blue powerhouses. What I love about this recipe though is that the varieties of fruit combinations you can use is endless!
Note: You can also make your own mini pancakes for this recipe, but when you are short on time (or sleep!) heating up frozen mini pancakes can be a lifesaver. I recommend whipping up a bunch of mini pancakes once, freezing them, and then having them on hand anytime you want to make this parfait!
- 10 each mini pancakes cooked and torn into pieces
- 2 (5.3-ounce) container low fat yogurt (your favorite flavor)
- 1 cup blueberries fresh or frozen
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
Add ½ of yogurt container to a bowl or cup. Then add some blueberries on top. Add some pancake pieces over the blueberries.
Add other ½ of yogurt container (1 full container per parfait) and top with more blueberries, more pancake pieces and sprinkle some chia seeds on top. Enjoy!
Tip: Add some nuts or more fruit to this breakfast and enjoy a scrumptious and filling meal.
Nutrition Facts (per serving):
324 calories, 61 g CHO, 6 g FAT, 8 g PRO, 365 mg sodium, 37 g sugar
I have partnered with Flatout Flatbread to bring this post to you. All opinions are my own
Did you set a New Year’s resolution for yourself to lose weight this year? You aren’t alone. Weight loss is one of the top resolutions each year, however most people who make this a resolution give up on achieving it before the calendar even advances to February. Why do weight loss resolutions tend to fail? Because they aren’t realistic! If you decide starting January 1st you will give up your favorite foods, swear off ever touching a chip again, and vow to exercise for at least 90 minutes every day, you are going to burn yourself out.
Losing weight and improving health only happen when you commit to making lifestyle changes you can stick with. A ‘lifestyle change’ is a change you have to make for life. If you make a drastic change, such as deciding to cut out all bread products from your diet for good, you most likely will feel deprived. And the more deprived you feel, the more cravings you start to experience. I don’t care how much willpower you have. If you are feeling deprived, you will eventually give up and overindulge. Instead, avoiding deprivation is key to weight loss success.
How can you avoid deprivation without overdoing it? It can actually be pretty simple. By tweaking some of your favorite comfort foods to boost their nutritional value while reducing overall calories, you can eat what you love every day without guilt and without a negative impact on your waistline or health.
My secret weapon for weight loss
As most of my private nutrition clients know, I have a few ‘must-have’ foods that I recommend having on hand when focusing on reducing your waistline. When it comes to dropping pounds, one meal plan tweak makes the biggest impact. Increasing your intake of fiber and protein while cutting down on refined carbohydrates will maximize weight loss efforts while improving health. This sounds pretty straightforward, but can be very hard to implement if you don’t have the right foods on hand. That’s why I can’t recommend stocking up on Flatout Flatbread enough. I have loved this flatbread since the moment I stumbled upon it at my local grocery store years ago. Since then, I have recommended the brand to anyone that would listen. So you can imagine how excited I was to team up with them on this post!
If you are not familiar with the brand, Flatout Flatbread is a delicious line of flatbreads that are high in fiber and protein while reduced in carbohydrates and calories. This makes them the perfect choice for anyone who has to reduce their overall carbohydrate intake, such as those with diabetes, or for anyone who wants to cut calories without feeling hungry. And what I love most about this flatbread is that it isn’t just for making wraps. Don’t get my wrong, I love a good wrap! But you can use Flatout to make everything from pizza to pies and even a substitute for an ice cream cone! Being so versatile is what makes this product so great at helping you achieve your weight loss resolutions. It allows you to enjoy all of the comfort food you crave in a healthier way so that you don’t feel deprived. And a lack of deprivation = success when it comes to reaching your weight loss goals.
It’s not just me who loves Flatout Flatbread. Weight Watchers has just recognized the brand as their official flatbread! I think that just goes to show you how effective this brand is to your weight loss efforts. So pick up your flatbread now (you can find out what stores carry Flatout Flatbread using their store finder HERE) and start getting creative!
Here are four of my favorite ways to enjoy this flatbread for inspiration. I can’t wait to see what you will create!
Need more inspiration? Join me on January 24th as I takeover Flatout’s Instagram feed! I will be sharing my favorite Flatout recipes and tips to achieving your weight loss resolutions. I will also be on hand throughout the day to answer all of your nutrition questions. I can’t wait to see you there!
I shared these cookies with you last year, but since then I have worked on a little tweak that I think you will love even more. Okay, I can’t take all of the credit for the recipe adjustment. It was my little guy’s idea to transform them from standard raspberry oat cookies into chocolate raspberry cookies- and hey, who am I to argue with that? I am never going to say ‘no’ to chocolate!
I decided to whip up a batch of these cookies to help cut down on the amount of added sugar my family has been consuming since the holidays. Why do we need a bit of a sugar detox? Since Joey was turning 3, I decided to crack down on our potty training efforts. We have made little progress over the past six months so I decided enough was enough. Since I am home with the new baby right now anyway, it seemed like a good idea to start an intensive potty training boot camp (note to self: potty training a toddler while trying to soothe a newborn is NOT a good idea).
So the potty training crack down began and of course motivation is needed, right? Well I had exhausted the use of stickers, dollar store prizes, coloring books, etc and nothing was motivating this child. Then my husband introduced him to the Oreo cookie. Yes- we have a winner! This child will apparently do anything to eat an Oreo. And he doesn’t actually eat the cookie- just licks the cream in the middle (I don’t blame him, that’s my preferred method of eating them as well). So great, the Oreo was working and he was going on the potty consistently. The problem was the Oreos worked a little too well. He was now using the potty consistently every hour, avoiding accidents, and almost diaper free. And yes, he was requesting MANY Oreos for his efforts.
A cookie here and there I am fine with. There’s nothing wrong with a little treat every now and then. But no 3-year-old should be eating a sleeve of Oreos! So I had to wean him off by finding a healthier compromise and these Chocolate Raspberry Yogurt Cookies were the perfect solution. They pack in real fruit, little added sugar, and provide a good source of whole grain and protein for less than 40 calories per cookie! You have to try them!
If you have a cookie-crazed child at home like I do (or cookie-crazed husband as well!) I definitely recommend making these together. Whenever you can get your child in on the action in the kitchen, they are more likely to eat what they have created. These cookies are so simple and fun to make, it’s the perfect recipe to get the whole family involved in making.
- 1 cup oat bran
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 cup raspberries fresh or frozen
- 1 each egg
- 3/4 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 400 F.
In a medium bowl mix whisk egg and add in yogurt.
Mix together dry ingredients and add into egg/yogurt mixture to create a batter. Mix raspberries into batter until evenly distributed. Place 1 Tablespoon mounds of batter onto a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until edges are lightly brown in color.
Serve warm or cool (keep leftovers refrigerated)