Did That Cheesecake Make My Butt Look Big? Healthy Dessert Recipes & Pole Dancing

cheesecake butt big

I woke up an hour early today – partly because I had a dream I was spinning around a pole (fully clothed, people) and got motion sick and and partly because I didn’t want to miss a minute of National Cheesecake Day. Yup, that’s right, I have no shame in saying I recently had a crash course in pole dancing (see below) nor that I like to celebrate a frivolous and, as some might assume fattening food holiday. Down at yonder Cheesecake Factory, (where you can get ½ price slices of cheesecake July 30 & July 31, if you dare), a single slice of their most indulgent cheese cake, the Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple, contains a muffin-top making 1,320 calories while a Splenda-sweetened version of their Original Cheesecake trims the treat down to 570 calories. Wow, it might be hard to hang onto a pole, run or do any CrossFit WODs with too many servings of either of these!

Check out Fit & Fruity Cheesecake Ideas for Summer Dessert

by The Fit Fork at Foodie.com

I’m not knocking Cheesecake Factory in particular; most cheesecakes have an abundance of calories, carbs and fat. But I have rounded up some HEALTHIER cheesecakes and inspired-by-cheesecake treats (like smoothies and froyo) for Foodie.com that feature less sugar, less fat and more wholesome goodness. Some of the cheesecake inspiration recipes are nutritious enough to eat for breakfast!

Included in the collection of Fit & Fruit Cheesecake Ideas for Summer Dessert, is my super simple but simply sublime recipe for Cheesecake Protein “Ice Cream” – the perfect frozen base for your favorite fresh fruits of summer, such as blueberries, strawberries, pineapple and more. Crumble up a crushed graham cracker or sprinkle some granola on top for an authentic New York cheese cake taste!

frozen cheese cake treat with protein powder

Cheesecake Protein Ice Cream Recipe

  • 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup vanilla protein powder
  • 4 ounces Neufchatel cheese, softened
  • Stevia, to taste
  • Optional garnish – fresh fruit and graham cracker crumbles

Puree all ingredients together in blender. Pour into ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions until done (mine takes about 20 – 30 minutes). Serve with desired toppings and immediately freeze leftovers. Makes four 1-cup servings.

pole fitness jennifer fisher

photo credit: ATXfoto.com

And, finally, I have more cheesecake for you –pole dancing. Yes, I tried my hand at the “sport” at the Naturally Fit Games in Austin this past weekend. Actually, it was fun – except for the crowd that gathered at the Straight Up Pole Fitness  Expo booth caught me off guard as I learned a few tricks of the trade. Actually, I really liked the challenge of “pole fitness,” as I’ll call it – requires a lot of strength and self-confidence, of which I have both!

jackie and jen at beef booth naturally fit 2014

Jackie and I were the fueled-by-beef babes manning the Texas Beef Council booth – if you didn’t know, I am a fan of all the lean beef cuts (there are now 38 lean cuts!!) and eat beef at least every other day as a way to recover from my workouts and remain a lean, mean , running machine!

any way beef jar salad 250This summer, my Any Day, Any Way Beef Salad (in a jar) made with top sirloin steak has been my go-to meal.

Answer me this:

  • What would you put on top of plain cheesecake?
  • Have you ever tried pole dancing? If not, would you?
  • What’s your go-to summer meal?

 

This post is sponsored by Foodie.com. However, all opinions are my own. 

Headstands and Hot Dogs + Healthy Chip #Giveaway

headstand balance challengeFirst, let’s just get the headstand out of the way. This is not your ordinary inversion. It’s a headstand that will challenge you to the very core as you tighten every muscle trying to maintain balance – I’ve thrown in balance busting elements including WIND and WEIGHT! To try this, you’ll need a heavy-duty garage fan, 4 to 10 pound medicine ball and the ability to safely kick up and hold a headstand for at least a minute (you don’t want to crash into the fan). To add in the balance challenges, grab a medicine ball between your feet on the way up, fully extend legs upward, and then bend knees downward. Repeat as long as possible. To test your balance further, continue the upside down medicine ball leg presses, but have a friend turn the garage fan on full blast. Whoohoo!

Hot dogs are a staple of summer – I can’t imagine how many dogs the world has downed at ball parks, boardwalks, and backyard barbeques. Sure, some foodies might be too high faulting for a hotdog, while fitness-oriented folks may shy away assuming all frankfurters are loaded with fat, random animal parts, chemicals and other questionable stuff.  Okay, well maybe the most widely available hotdogs are not so “hot” in the nutrition department, but there are lots of healthier options around today including this round up of grass-fed, all-beef hotdogs from Health.com.

hotdog ingredients

It can be quite confusing to pick a healthy hot dog!

Definitely read labels; that’s your job as a consumer. For example, when the package rattles off ingredients such as “by-products” or “variety meats,” this means the hotdog may have as little as 15 percent muscle meat , the amount required by the USDA. Depending on your preference, make sure beef or grass-fed beef is the number one, first ingredient. Also, if you think you’re getting an uncured, chemical-free hot dog, think again because I don’t think it’s possible.  It’s common practice, even by “healthy” companies, to label products as “uncured” and “nitrate free”  . . . . .wait for it . . . “with the exception of nitrates naturally occurring in celery salt.”  It’s not like celery salt is innocently added to perk up a hot dog’s flavor. Instead, when this water-dense plant is grown in nitrate-rich water and then dried, ground and passed off as “salt,” it also passes on (you guessed it) a concentrated level of nitrates. Studies have shown that hot dogs labeled “nitrate free” contain between ½ to 10 times the amount of nitrates found in conventional hot dogs – WOW!  Check out this interesting article on What’s Inside the Bun from the New York Times.

Sonya Thomas competes in the 2012 Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Eating Contest at Coney Island in the Brooklyn borough of New York

Champ Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas getting it done!

So, even with all of these questionable issues at hand, I’ll still eat an all-beef hot dog every now and then, especially in the summer.  Really it’s about moderation, I’m only eating one hot dog at a sitting, a couple times a year – and not trying to break the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island. By the way, the men’s record is 67 hot dogs and the women’s is 45 – in ten minutes! Okay, so this is more than a little gross, but so morbidly fascinating – and it does sort of appeal to my competitive spirit. But, for now I will just weenie out and remain a spectator!

fit rank toppings

Another way to make your hot dogs “healthier” is to top them with fresh, nutritious ingredients. I recently shared my recipes for “Healthy Hot Dog Toppings” on Litehouse Foood’s Living Lighthouse blog. Instead of adding gut-busting chili and cheese, I used the new line of Opadipity Greek Yogurt Dips to create gourmet dogs. Head over to Litehouse Foods to check out my Greek God Hot Dog, Garlic Green Machine,  and Cha-Cha Chipotle Dog!

jennifer thefitfork food should taste good

Okay, you can’t have hot dogs without chips – and of course, I’m talking about healthier chips! Food Should Taste Good (aka FSTG) recently sent me a box full of their delicious, nutritious flavors to test out – and I also get to give some away! I’ve loved these tortilla chips for a long time . . . . but had only tried the Whole Grain flavor until recently . Holy guacamole . . . there is a Guacamole flavor .  . . and an Olive flavor . . . and a Jalapeno Cheddar flavor and a gazillion other creative flavors – too many to mention!

I love that these chips are made from real ingredients, have zero trans fats, and no cholesterol – plus, they are certified gluten free and Kosher, making them the perfect anytime snack for pretty much everyone!  My husband eats these healthy chips straight out of the bag while I like to crunch them up and use them as croutons on my salad. Or with dip, dips are good – especially my favorite Chipotle Ranch Dip made with Greek Yogurt. And with my new favorite FSTG chips – Jalapeno Cheddar. Chips, super double good. Dip, good. Got it? Good. Now get it! Or, win some good food (see Rafflecopter app below):

food should taste good jalapeno cheddar

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Slice & Slurp, it’s National Drink Watermelon Day + Watermelon Ginger Limeade Recipe

nuun ambassador jennifer fisher watermelon

The weathermen don’t need to convince me that July 24th is considered the hottest day of the year.  Here in Austin with temperatures about to pass the 100 degree mark, I think I could sear my favorite spice-crusted tenderloin steak to perfect mouthwatering, medium-rareness right on the sidewalk. Seriously.  I actually enjoy the heat and think in a past life I may have been a lizard. However, unrelenting warm temperatures create challenges when exercising outdoors  — one of the biggest problems is remaining hydrated as sweating increases.  Even becoming moderately dehydrated really puts a downer on the day – who wants to deal with muscle cramps, a nagging headache and lingering fatigue?

july 24 drink watermelon badge

I was super excited to find out today is National Drink Watermelon Day, a pretty awesome proclamation made by the National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB).   Drinking watermelon juice is a great way to keep fluid levels topped off – this jumbo-sized juicy fruit is made from 92 percent water and is a robust resource for replenishing electrolytes. Watermelon can even help your muscles recover more quickly from workouts thanks to the amino acid L-citrulline.  I talk about this in more detail in the Running & Watermelon Hydration and Watermelon & Workout Recovery posts I did for my recent week of #LivingOnTheWedge.

benefits of drinking watermelonOutdoor athletes aren’t the only ones that need to stay hydrated during the summer.  A recent Harris Poll commissioned by NWPB reported that nearly 1/3 of us don’t drink enough water – the main reason being lack of flavor. Really, you could just eat an 18 ounces slice of watermelon and it would be like drinking a 16 ounce bottle of water. However, there are so many taste bud tantalizing drinks you can make with watermelon that are so much more exciting than just putting a lemon slice in water. Some of my favorite past recipes are Watermelon Agua Fresca and Watermelon Chia Seed Smoothies. One of my favorite sports hydration companies, Nuun Hydration, even makes a Watermelon-flavored electrolyte replacement tab — I like to add these do watermelon juice for a double boost!

.However, in honor of National Drink Watermelon Day, I’ve come up with a new watermelon beverage that quenches thirst with a kick of ginger – Stevia-Sweetened Watermelon Ginger Limeade. Ginger is an awesome addition to any drink – it boosts the absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients in the body and it has anti-inflammatory properties to sooth sore muscles and joints. A glass of this lightly sweet-sour-spicy drink will make you say “hello” to hydration – who doesn’t want to drink MORE of something that tastes so outrageously good. And, please do drink more – I’ve made this healthy recipe with Stevia to keep the carbs lower!

 

 

low sugar watermelon drink for hydration

Stevia-Sweetened Watermelon Ginger Limeade Recipe

  •  4 oz fresh ginger root
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon powedered Stevia (like Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Stevia)
  • 4 cups watermelon juice
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • 12 oz sparkling water
  • Optional Garnish – lime slices, watermelon balls and fresh mint
  1. Wash and thinly slice ginger root, peeling is not necessary. Add sliced ginger to small sauce pan filled with 2 cups water.  Bring to boil and the lower heat and let simmer (no lid) for about 30 – 45 minutes or until liquid reduced by half.
  2. Pour ginger and water through fine-meshed strainer and into a bowl. Mix in stevia and stir until dissolved. Discard ginger or save for another use.
  3. Prepare watermelon juice by pureeing about 6 cups of watermelon in the blender and straining off pulp. An easier way is just to collect the juice that runs off watermelon when cutting it into chunks – I save all of mine and keep it in the freezer for recipes like this!
  4. To prepare beverage, pour watermelon juice, lime juice, ½ cup ginger “syrup” juice into tall pitcher; stir to combine. Pour in sparkling water and lightly stir.
  5. Serve in tall glasses garnished with lime slices and watermelon balls. Serves 4

gingered watermelon lime drink

 

This post was sponsored by the National Watermelon Promotion Board and I received nominal compensation to share my love for watermelon. All recipes and opinions are my own.

Blueberry Snap Pea Salad & Blueberries for Dessert

blueberry chicken salad on mixed greens

You can’t beat a big salad for a beautiful, easy-breezy summer meal — and one topped with blueberries and sugar snap peas adds just the right sprinkling of sweetness along with a saturation of whole body wholesomeness.  My Mixed Greens Salad with Chicken, Blueberries & Snap Peas was inspired by the recipe for Creamy Blueberry Chicken Salad in the August 214 edition of Cooking Light magazine. Of course, I had to do my own spin based on the fresh ingredients in my fridge!

So, what’s so special about these salad toppings? Well, grilled chicken breast offers a great source of lean protein, I always try to get about 25 – 30 grams of protein per meal. Blueberries are loaded with a wide rand of antioxidants that help me stay healthy on the inside and out and, as with most berries, are relatively low on the glycemic scale compared to many fruits. If I’m not careful, I can eat the whole pint – I guess there are worse things that could happen. Now, sugar snap peas are a childhood favorite, my mom used to grown them in the garden. So crisp, refreshing and surprising low in calories (only 26 calories per cup!),  sugar snap pea are a great source of fiber, vitamin C and vitamin A.

salad with chicken breast, blueberry, red oinion

Mixed Greens Salad with Chicken, Blueberries & Snap Peas Recipe

  • 6 ounces baby spring lettuce mix
  • 1/2 cup thinly vertically sliced red onion
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil
  • 12 ounces shredded skinless, boneless poached or grilled chicken breast
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup favorite balsamic vinaigrette or Litehouse Food’s Huckleberry Vinaigrette

 To prepare, divide lettuce evenly among four plates. Top each plate with equal portion of onion, snap peas, basil, chicken breast and blueberries. Drizzle with salad dressing. Serves 4.

violet beauregarde Now, if you’re wondering what to eat for a dessert that won’t leave you feeling like Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, check out my delicious recipe for Blueberry Frozen Yothefitfork blueberry frozen yogurt 700!

 

 

For even more inspiration on how to make a healthy sweet treat from a batch of these popular summer berries (second choice only to strawberries), check out Cooking Light’s collection of Blueberry Desserts – you’ll find everything from blueberry cobbler to blueberry popsicles.

blueberry desserts

How ZMA Can Help Female Athletes & Swanson Vitamin #Giveaway

Turning things around with ZMA!

Turning things around with ZMA!

Did you know I supplement with ZMA? I’m not outing myself with anything weird or wacky,  just want to share with y’all how this formula of zinc, magnesium aspartate and vitamin B6 has helped me tremendously the last several years.  Yes, being a runner and general fitness enthusiast is a great way to stay healthy, but it can also take a toll when you’re not taking care of yourself – I know this firsthand. Increased levels of physical exercise can deplete the minerals, vitamins and nutrients that are essential for protein synthesis, muscle maintenance / building, and testosterone production. This is when I had a light bulb moment – no wonder I was feeling so run down, worn out and stuck in a performance rut.

swanson ZMAI was already taking magnesium and vitamin B6 at the suggestion of my physician, but with little discernible effect. However, when I found the specific formulation of ZMA, I started noticing some improvements – and now, I’m afraid NOT to take it! Here are the main reasons why I like ZMA, and why you may be interested too – but of course, please consult with a trusted medical professional first.

woman back muscles

Boost Testosterone: You may be surprised to find out that women produce testosterone too, although in much lower levels than men. A lack of adequate testosterone, regardless of gender, can make you feel tired and lethargic as you go about your daily schedule and (blush) not in the mood at night. Blood work at a doctor’s appointment a couple years ago showed I needed to boost up this hormone and, compared to some other options out there, I felt that ZMA supplementation would be an all-natural and gentle way to kick things up a bit without growing any hair on my chest!   One study has shown that testosterone in men increases as much as 30% when taking ZMA.

Deepen Sleep:  I have a troubled history with getting enough quality sleep. That’s bad on so many levels – not only do I feel grouchy in the morning, but I am often unable to execute my workouts as planned.  Falling into deep REM sleep is vital for muscle recovery and proper testosterone production – all of this action happens at a higher rate while we are snoozing soundly. ZMA is taken about an hour before bed on an empty stomach and encourages a deeper, more productive sleep.

Achieve Strength Gains and Improve Performance:  Studies have shown that ZMA supplementation has many benefits for athletes. As mentioned earlier, due to the taxing demands we put on our bodies, athletes lose more minerals and nutrients than the general population. These exercise stress caused deficiencies need to be continually replenished to stay healthy. When properly replenished and recovered, the body can continue to train and build strength at levels that yield performance improvements. A study on football players during 8 weeks of spring training revealed that those taking ZMA had 2.5 more gains in muscle strength than the placebo group.  While I don’t exactly have a football player physique, I do count on nightly ZMA to help mend my muscles so that I can tackle the next day of running and working out!

Lean Body Composition: A nice side benefit of taking ZMA is that the little boost in testosterone helps me stay lean with a much higher percentage of muscle mass compared to body fat. Now, you can’t just take ZMA and think you will drop weight like crazy – it doesn’t work that way AT ALL!  You definitely need to be mindful of your diet (I eat a higher protein, lower-carb diet) and genetic body type. I’m an ectomorph, which in terms of body building, has been described as someone with “thin limbs and stringy muscles” – lol, no worries about bulking up here!

RDA for ZMA Supplement

The serving size for women is 2 capsules.

swanson badgeI started purchasing my ZMA, other supplements and health foods at Swanson Vitamins.  Why I was schlepping up to the grocery store and paying twice the price, I’ll never know. Yup, that’s right – the Swanson Brand ZMA is at least 30 percent, if not 50 percent, less than the name brand product I had been previously purchasing at the local market or sports nutrition store. In addition to helping me save money with their line of high-quality, private-label products, Swanson Vitamins also offers a discount on automatic re-ordering, has a low-price guarantee, and a 365-day, free shipping return policy. They sell every vitamin you can think of (in many of the top brands in addition to Swanson), beauty items, eco-friendly products and organic foods.

win a gift card for vitamins

Swanson’s Vitamins has been around for 45 years, so it’s a safe guess they are treating customers right! In honor of this landmark birthday, the company has offered to let me host a giveaway for a $45 shopping spree to their online store (check out the Rafflecopter app below for entry options). Also, you have another chance to win even more — check out Swanson’s Sweepstakes page for a chance to win 45 Healthy Foods and $500!

Swanson’s Vitamins has provided me product to review and is sponsoring the giveaway, however all opinions are my own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Muscle-Making Mudslide Smoothie & Saturday #ShoutOuts

Oh yeah, it rained in Austin yesterday and goodness knows we can use it. For the last couple years, our beloved lake has been in jeopardy of drying completely up and blowing away. In honor of this precipitous precipitation, I’m sharing one of my favorite chocolate smoothies – a Muscle-Making Mudslide Smoothie. healthy protein mudslide smoothie Muscle-Making Mudslide Smoothie Recipe

  • 10 ounces of almond milk*
  • 1 scoop (1/3 cup) favorite protein powder*
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 4 ounces strong coffee, chilled
  • 1 large frozen banana, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cacao nibs
  • Ices, as needed
  • Chocolate syrup (optional)

Blend first 7 ingredients together until smooth. If desired, drizzle sides of glass with chocolate syrup before pouring in smoothie.  *An 11.5 ounce bottle of Chocolate Core Power may be substituted for the almond milk and protein powder.

I also have lots of favorite new products to share that have been sent to me complimentary for my opinion.  I tell it like it is, so don’t worry about getting some polished sales pitch. If you have any questions, please ask me in the comments.

procakes packageProCakes High Protein Pancake Mix:  I’m back in town and finally had a chance to whip up a batch of these yummy pancakes. The founder of ProCakes is a fellow FitFluential ambassador and came up with the idea for this protein pancake mix while training for her first fitness competition – she wanted to show people how easy and tasty it can be to eat in a way that does the body good. This product has lots of protein, no added sugar, no gluten — meaning no guilty conscience about enjoying a stack of these light and tender hotcakes in the morning. That is, no guilt unless you soak ‘em up in a sugar bomb of syrup – how about some fresh fruit and dollop of Greek yogurt instead?

ProCakes wit greek yogurt and blueberriesProCakes Protein Pancakes with Greek Yogurt & Blueberries Recipe

  • 1 packet (45g) ProCakes pancake mix
  • 1 large egg or egg white equivalent
  • 1/3 cup 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup 0% plain Greek yogurt
  • 10 drops liquid vanilla Stevia
  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries

Mix pancake mix, egg and milk together in bowl. Heat lightly oiled skillet to medium-low heat. Pour batter onto heated skilled into three pancakes. Cook until pancake bubbling on top, then flip over until golden brown. Mix yogurt and stevia together in small bowl. Top pancakes with dollop of sweetened yogurt and blueberries. Makes 1 serving (3 pancakes)

 

love grown granola

Love Grown Foods – I’m still on the breakfast bandwagon here and am a new-ish fan of Love Grown Foods, an awesome company that offers all sorts of nutritious products to start the day including Power O’s (great for kids), Oat Clusters (this granola-lover’s favorite), and Hot Oats which I haven’t tried yet. With no genetically modified ingredients, high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils, I feel confident feeding my family Love Grown Foods. I love how the Power O’s are made with a bean blend to add protein, fiber, and additional health benefits. Yes, that’s right BEANS FOR BREAKFAST. Although, you’d never know they were in there! How lucky am I that when I stopped in the gym yesterday, I bumped into one of my favorite bloggers, Ms. Cotter Crunch and the company founder, Maddy – they loaded me up with a big haul of LOOT and LOVE.

Lindsay from CotterCrunch.com and Maddy of Love Grown Foods

Lindsay from CotterCrunch.com and Maddy of Love Grown Foods

altra zero drop The Ones SquaredAltra’s The One2  I am totally digging my new running shoes from Altra Zero Drop – in fact, they may be my favorite yet. Lighter and less clunky that some of the past models, these streamlined babies weigh in at only 5.4 ounces yet have loads of wiggle room for toes (yay, no black nails) and some real, honest-to-goodness cushioning that you don’t get in a lot of other zero-drop shoes.  Goodness knows I love me a minimal shoe, but sometimes my feet have had enough impact– Altra calls the cushioning “light” and I call it great compromise for my road weary feet. The One2 running shoe is perfect for speed work and shorter road racing. I’d even be comfortable wearing them through a marathon, but I know many of you like a running shoe with more cushioning – Altra has those, too!

the fit fork altra running shoes

Altra’s The Ones Squared are light & speedy, plus lots of wiggle room for toes. #EmbraceTheSpace

body fat scaleSurpahs Body Fat Scale BFS-835 Okay, I have always avoided body fat scales because I felt like I didn’t need one more thing to obsess over. But, when Surpahs offered to send me one, my curiosity got the better of me – and now that I’m used to it, I think it’s a great way to check in every week or two for a benchmark. Some people say, “oh these body fat scales have a huge margin of error” – who knows, because I know I’m fit, I am not so concerned with my body fat being 100 percent correct – I am just looking for discernable changes in my weight and body fat from week to week.  Not only does this body fat scale measure body fat, water, muscle mass and bone mass, it can be pre-programmed for up to eight people making it convenient for large families or fitness / nutritional coaches. The scale is super sleek and looks great with my bathroom décor. Get a good deal at Amazon.com:

  • So, what products are you loving right now?
  • Have you ever used a body fat scale?
  • What are you eating for breakfast?
  • Have you ever tried Altra Zero-Drop running shoes?

Summer Vacation Snacking with Blue Diamond Almonds

Almonds make a good travel snack

Whoohoo, I’m a little bit nutty! When I jump in front of national monuments or execute yoga poses in public places, my kids always roll their eyes, hide and later say “sheeze, mom! Aren’t you embarrassed to do that?” Absolutely not, no way, nope! That’s one of the freeing things about being an adult and no longer caring what people think! I’ve done the Chicken Dance in the grocery store, cartwheeled down the sidewalk and wear my pajamas during early morning carpooling while singing along to music with the windows rolled down (the horror!)

almonds healthy travel snack

But on a recent vacation to Washington, D.C., I had selfish motives for embarrassing my 3 ‘tween and teen children – I was greedily keeping those human vacuum cleaners away from my Blue Diamond Almonds!  As a Blue Diamond Tastemaker , I was sent a couple of cans of healthy, yummy almonds to incorporate into my summer entertaining plans. However, we don’t entertain much in the summer because the family is too busy attending family reunions, heading off to camp or exploring new cities on vacation.  Instead, we let our adventures entertain us!

In my opinion, there is no better healthy snack to take on a trip than almonds. Nutritionally dense, they don’t take up a lot of space in a purse, backpack or airline carry-on. Almonds are also loaded with protein and heart-healthy fats that keep the hunger pangs away longer than carbohydrate-heavy food.  One of my favorite quick travel “recipes” is to set a whole natural almond on top of a dried apricot and top it with a chocolate chip – only 20 calories and totally delicious!

blue diamond natural almond and apricot snack

Blue Diamond’s Whole Natural Almonds are very versatile -you can eat them plain, put them in trail mix or even whip up into your smoothie.  They can also be easily toasted at home and incorporated into so many breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes. Toasting whole natural almonds only takes about 10 minutes and makes them super fragrant and crunchy – Cooking Light has a great tutorial on how to toast nuts.

toast almond video tutorial

The other almond flavor I sampled was the Rosemary & Black Pepper. These little guys pack a bold punch without being too overwhelming. While I gobbled mine straight from the can, these salted, herbed nuts would be great on a salad, alongside a cheese board, or crushed up and used as a topping for salmon.

Blue Diamond provided me with compensation and product for this post. However, the opinions and nuttiness are completely my own!

My Famous Salad Recipe & More Favorites (Like Pandas)

Hey, I’m just back from my vacation to Washington, DC and have lots of interesting, historical, and presidentially-inspired food discoveries to share. However, I want to recreate and “health-ify” some of the recipes at home first, so today I will leave you with one of my favorite moments in the Smithsonian – getting to see Julia Child’s kitchen! Whoot, whoot!

julia child kitchen 700

Because I’ve been eating out for the last week and not making new healthy recipes at home, today I’m sharing a recipe that’s been a real superstar for me – Tropical Fusion Salad with Spicy Tortilla Ribbons.  It’s been featured on the COVER of Taste of Home magazine and in a number of their cookbooks. This summer, they have the recipe running in the June/July issue of their sister publication (and one of my favorite reads), Simple & Delicious.

black bean, avocado and papaya salad

Below is the glamor “cover” shot! You can check out my previous post to get the full recipe – this almost no-cook recipe is perfect for these hot dog days of summer when it’s just plain miserable to turn on the oven. It’s also super nutritious too – black beans, avocado, papaya and more! While my recipe instructs baking the tortillas in the oven to crisp them into strips, you can easily crunch-ify them in the microwave or just crumble up some chips as a no-sweat alternative.

2010 MAy taste of home cover

 

 

baby panda

I just can’t resist sharing this photo — the kids and I were so lucky to get to see the panda baby toddle about. He was so cute and endearingly uncoordinated to watch climb over fallen tree trunks or roll down the grassy hill!

Talk to me, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

  • What no-cook recipes do you like to make for dinner?
  • What is your favorite thing to do in Washington, DC?
  • Have you ever seen a baby panda bear?