Busy morning school routines combined with dwindling daylight hours can make waking up in September a challenge. My boys have become snooze button beasts, but not anymore! They are up and at ‘em earlier with much more enthusiasm now that I’ve added some yummy breakfast eating options to the morning menu.
We all are totally loving the new Pepperidge Farm Swirl Oatmeal breads, the thick and hearty whole grain slices make a yummy foundation for slathers for spreads, sandwich fillings, and such. Today, I’m sharing ways to use this delicious breakfast bread, including my Pumpkin Maple Peanut Butter Panini with Banana! Continue reading →
Oh, we all have those days when the dreaded bloat is out of control. Personally, sometimes my tummy can stick out more than my butt. I’ve reduced my family to tears of hysteria (and fear) on more than one occasion by sticking out my distended middle as far as humanly possible – I look like a skinny 6-month pregnant woman or have an awful basketball sized tumor! Maybe it’s too much salt, not enough water, low fiber intake, that time of the month . . . or all of the above. I think we can all agree that being bloated and retaining water is not only an uncomfortable feeling, but also a self-confidence shaker – even though we all know that by eating healthfully, this gut grief not a lasting situation. Can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’ll share pictures of me taken within a short period of time — before dinner and already bloated (left) and feeling fabulous early one morning (right)! .
Rather than staying swollen up like a balloon, you can stop the suffering and get on the path to that slim and trim you with my Dandelion Greens Detox Smoothie. Packed with all sorts of healthy ingredients that promote healthy digestion and hydration, this green smoothie recipe is also very light, so you don’t have to fret about overdoing the liquid calories.
For under 120 calories, you get a 20-ounce glass of goodness that has no added sugar, progresses you towards your daily fiber needs, and even has a touch of protein from the dandelion (surprise!) It’s also rich in many vitamins and minerals, especially potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamin K.
Here’s a rundown on the ingredients and how they can tame your tummy troubles.
Cucumber: Not only is this veggie is loaded with water (95% to be exact) which helps improve hydration, it also is a good source of a flavonoid antioxidant called quercetin that help reduce inflammation and puffiness – that’s why we have all long-loved to put slices over our eyes.
Coconut Water: High in potassium and other electrolytes, this watery juice from inside the coconut helps to flush sodium out of the body and restore healthy hydration levels. For convenience, I love to have this Coconut Water Powder on hand.
Banana: Bananas are rich in potassium, a mineral that helps manage fluid levels in our bodies and can assist in shedding salt-related water retention. Also, this dietary fiber in this popular fruit keeps things moving along in your digestive system.
Ginger: This root is a wonder when it comes to health benefits, anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, migraine relief and more. It also contains an enzyme that optimized the absorption of proteins and Lessing protein-related bloating and gas in the process.
Dandelion Greens: Dandelion greens (as well as the root) are a fantastic detox food that cleanses the liver, flushing toxins and excess water out – perfect if you have lots of water retention. Dandelions have a surprising amount of protein for a “green” and even more calcium than spinach. You can also use the greens (mainly found in the early spring) in salads or sautés or reap benefits from drinking a dandelion tea or taking a dandelion root extract or supplement.
Even though I try to eat with my health in mind, I don’t always say “no” to sweets – but I do try to clean them up a bit. For example, instead of a bowl full of cold, creamy ice cream topped with crumbled cookies, I eat plain Greek yogurt that I’ve sweetened with stevia and topped with a crunch protein-based chocolate cereal (Power Os from Love Grown Foods). I also top that with mini-chocolate chips, it’s my go-to bedtime snack – it’s still sweet, but more balanced with protein to boost my workout recovery and make muscles while I sleep!
I also like to implement my “protein-hacks” in my kid’s lunchbox desserts as well. A study has shown that children ages two to 18 years old get 40 percent of their daily calories from junk foods like sugary sodas and fruit drinks, cookies, donut, candy, fried foods and more – that’s unconscionable. Kids of all ages want sweets, I get it – believe me I GET IT! I would try and trade the raisins my health-nut mom would pack in my lunch for a friend’s Hostess Cupcake – she never would trade, but started bringing me an extra cupcake on the sly.
So, as a parent myself now for more than 18 years, I’ve allowed my kids to eat sweets so that they don’t feel deprived but talked about limits and the effects of eating too much “less than quality food” – but that a small amount also be fine occasionally in the context of an overall healthy lifestyle. I also like to make our cookies and cakes at home, so I know exactly what is going into the recipe and into our bodies – choosing more nutritious alternatives when possible. Like heart healthy fats, sugar swaps, no chemicals or preservatives, organic when possible – you get the drift.
Today I’m sharing a healthier version of classic crispy yet chewy cereal bars. They are perfect for lunch boxes, backpacks, after school snacks, picnics, and pot lucks and bake sales! I used less butter and marshmallows than the traditional “crispie” recipe and supplemented with a reduced-sugar caramel and dried fruit for sweetness. For long-lasting energy, I threw in some nuts and a bean-based cereal for extra protein. Enjoy!
Add banana chips and walnuts to medium bowl and lightly break up into coarse chunks with mallet or back of spoon.
Add cereals to bowl with banana walnut mixture; toss to combine. Set aside.
In large microwave-safe bowl, add marshmallows, caramel dip and butter. Microwave on 50% power for one minute, stir until creamy. Return to microwave and cook at 50% power for additional 1 minute; stir until creamy. If marshmallows aren’t completely incorporated, continue and stir in 20 second blasts.
Add dry cereal mixture to caramel mixture and stir with spatula until everything well coated.
Line 8” x 8” baking pan with wax paper or spray with oil.
Press mixture down firmly into pan. Let cool for 5 minutes and then cut into 9 bars, or size of your preference.
Summer means sticky. There is just no way to avoid the heinous heat and humidity that comes with August in my part of Texas. Sticky, sticky, sticky, it can make a mother grouchy if she lets it! I keep my parental cool when summer temps and the kids’ tempers flare with a toolbox of tactics to chill out. Yup, let’s stay in our bathing suits all day long, crank up the songs of summer, eat easy clean up desserts and, by all means, stay out of the kitchen (I’d hate to heat up the house)!
My boys have been clamoring for chocolate chip cookies, but no way I’m turning on the oven! Despite the heat, they want a summer treat that is warm and gooey – Chocolate Covered Strawberry Banana Boats are the solution.
The kids learned a version of this simple foil-packet dessert at Boy Scout camp in years past and we’ve created many versions at home, including this Raspberry Chocolate Banana Boat. So much for a mom to love about these easy desserts – it’s made on the grill, kids can make them on their own with parental supervision, you’re sneaking in extra fruit to the diet, and there are no dishes to clean up as these treats roast in their own skins.
The only clean up after diving face first into this ooey-gooey foil-packet dessert are messy mouths and sticky fingers. Yay, Wet-Nap® Hands, Face, & Body Cleansing Wipes. These wipes are one of the most multi-purposed, genius products of summer living. I started using Wet-Nap® when the kids were toddlers, but now they’re teens – and just as messy! Safe on the face, body and hands, these wipes are awesome after stick recipes like the banana boats, but also a great way to refresh after running, working out and sitting in the fan stands watching the kids’ sports in sweltering heat. I keep a container in the car, my gym bag and purse!
Wet-Nap® help tidy messes that life throws at us every day – this includes easy clean up desserts and easy clean up recipes and easy clean up crafts (just imaging the convenience for toddlers who like to finger paint). Also, as a food blogger, using Wet-Nap® products is a great way to keep my camera from getting too gunked up — snapping photos while food styling ALWAY make for messy buttons (don’t use on the lens, though)!
I never forget to toss a pack of Wet-Nap® wipes into my cart on Walmart shopping trips. Visit Walmart for all your Wet-Nap® needs: 110-Count Hands, Face, & Body Cleansing Wipes, 24-Count Packettes Antibacterial Hand Wipes and 40-Count Canister Antibacterial Hand Wipes.
Oh, hello delicious ingredients in Chocolate Covered Strawberry Banana Boats!
Heat gas or charcoal grill to approximately 400°F or use a wire rack over campfire.
Cut 4 (1-foot) sheets of heavy-duty foil, set aside.
Using a sharp knife, make a deep incision lengthwise along the top curve of each banana; take care not to cut through the bottom peel. Gently push both banana ends toward each other to create a pocket. Place banana on the center diagonal of tin foil.
Stuff each banana with approximately 2 tablespoons each of marshmallows, chopped strawberries and chocolate chips.
Pull up corners of tin foil to create a tent over the top of banana, leaving a few inches of headroom so marshmallows won’t melt all over the foil.
Place banana packets on heat source, close lid and cook for approximately 10 minutes or until marshmallows are softened.
Carefully remove banana packets and open foil. Banana skins may have turned brown; however, this does not affect taste. Drizzle each banana with warmed strawberry glaze and sprinkle with almonds. Eat warm.
Fall baking season is upon us! While I strive to eat nutritiously, I can still enjoy a little lovin’ from the oven thanks to a few healthy recipe swaps. My recipe for Skinny Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins will satisfy any sweet tooth but without nearly as much sugar as bakery shop treats. Because these healthy muffins are sweetened with just a bit of Stevia and the natural sugars found in bananas, the only real naughtiness is in the chocolate chips. But then, who ever said chocolate is bad for you? Quite the contrary with the company I keep. Also, to keep these muffins light, I omitted oil for Greek yogurt (extra protein) and unsweetened applesauce.
Tips, I like to use “mini” chocolate chips because they spread out better in the batter and also allow fewer to be used with still the same indulgent effect. Also, you’ll want your bananas to be as ripe as possible – I’m talking so ripe that the banana peel is black. When the bananas on my counter get to this state of super sweetness, I just peel them and toss them in the freezer for future baking and smoothie recipes. Another tip, if you’re using paper liners, set the liner in the muffin tins and then spray the paper with a mist of baking spray – the muffins will fall out effortlessly when ready to eat.
Skinny Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin Recipe
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
¾ cup plain Greek yogurt (6-oz carton)
¼ cup milk of choice
10 packets Stevia (or 1 tsp. liquid Stevia)
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup egg whites
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup mini chocolate chips*
*Save extra chocolate chips in bag to sprinkle on top before baking, if desired.
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
In large bowl, mash together bananas. Mix in applesauce, Greek yogurt, milk, stevia vanilla and egg whites until combined.
In separate bowl, stir together salt, baking soda, baking powder, all-purpose flour, and whole wheat flour.
Beat dry ingredients into wet ingredients a little at a time. Once combined, pour in chocolate chips and stir in by hand.
Spay muffin tins with baking spray or use paper liners. Fill muffin cups 2/3s the way up and sprinkle top of batter with a few extra mini chocolate chips, if desired.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until tops are turning lightly golden brown and center is set with prodded with a toothpick. If using mini muffin pans, reduce baking time 5 – 7 minutes.
Looking for a quick banana bread recipe that is not too fat-laden yet moist and tasty enough to go ape over? Several years ago, I gave a makeover to my favorite banana bread recipe by replacing some of the fat with applesauce and a fat-free sour cream substitution. The success of the swap was as clear as the crumbs left in the pan – it was a winner with my family for a breakfast treat and afterschool snack. Plus, I’ve even been known to sneak a piece on occasion– hey, it might be a cheat on the Paleo, Zone and other low-carb diets, but you have to live a little people! Recipe written by yours truly, Jennifer Fisher, and originally published in Country Woman February/March 2010, p34. Enjoy!
‘Better-For-You’ Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Add eggs; mix well. Beat in the bananas, sour cream, applesauce and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; add to butter mixture just until moistened. Fold in chips. Transfer to two 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).
Nutritional Facts: 1 slice equals 155 calories, 4 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 16 mg cholesterol, 148 mg sodium, 28 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1-1/2 starch, 1/2 fat.