No-Cook Chocolate Protein “Baklava” Bites

Ahhhhh . .  Chocolate. Pistachios. Honey. A hint of cinnamon.  My Chocolate Protein “Baklava” Bites are a muscle-making take on this ancient honey and nut dessert hailing from Greece and Turkey (both countries lay claim to its origin).  Chocolate Protein Baklava Bites

You’ll notice there’s no thin layers of phyllo in this healthy sweet treat! No need to get distracted with difficulty of preparation (and gluten) this adds to the recipe. Instead, I’ve put together a 15 minute recipe that is packed full of great nutrition to fuel your active lifestyle and requires absolutely no cooking. Read on to get all the nutty details along with the full recipe! Continue reading

Kiss of Honey Strawberry Hot Chocolate #BeeSweet + Giveaway

Healthy Kiss of Honey Strawberry Hot Chocolate uses Honey Crystals, Fresh Strawberries, and Fat Free Milk that froths up!This Valentine’s Day, treat your sweetie to my Kiss of Honey Strawberry Hot Chocolate – it’s a mug of hot, steamy love. There is no better way to warm up on February 14th, with the exception of a great big hug from your honey. Homemade from the heart, your favorite guy or girl will be tickled pink to sip away at this berry blissful beverage – and you’ll fall in love with how simple it is to make. Read to the bottom for giveaway.

Healthy Kiss of Honey Strawberry Hot Chocolate

Oh, and something else to adore – instead of fake flavorings, peculiar preservatives and corn syrup sweeteners found in many hot chocolate mixes, this made-from-scratch recipe uses fat-free milk (for the best frothing!), real strawberries and just a touch of added sweetness from Nektar Honey Crystals.

Healthy Kiss of Honey Strawberry Hot Chocolate

Can you believe this recipe makes it’s own whipped cream?! Well, not really cream, but the air that gets whipped up while blending makes a nice creamy top that is dense enough to hold sprinkles or colored sugar! I don’t really know the science behind it, but fat-free milk works the best for creating foam in the blender or with a frother. If you don’t do dairy, you can swap out for almond, coconut or cashew milk and still end up with a delicious drink.

Dark Chocolate Pretzels Covered with Nektar Honey CrystalsSince this recipe isn’t over-the-top sugary sweet, indulge your loved one with the perfect pairing – Dark Chocolate Covered & Nektar Honey-Crystal Dusted Pretzels. Ahh, strawberry hot chocolate and dark chocolate pretzels ARE a delicious duo, trust me!

And, it’s always tasteful to express your sentiments with food, words are also nice! Send a FREE “HoneyGram” to your sweetie – along with your personalized note comes with a complementary packet of Nektar Honey Crystals to melt your loved one’s heart. Go HERE to send a HoneyGram – hurry, ends 2/7!

Nektar Honey Crystals productsI first discovered Nektar Honey Crystals when looking for a way to pre-sweeten the homemade holiday tea bags I was gifting family and friends  – you must check out my DIY Tea Bag post, it’s genius. You also need to check out Nektar Honey Crystals, an equally clever and convenient idea Forget about the sticky mess usually associated with honey, these 100 percent natural crystals are super yummy sweet and deliver the familiar flavor of honey and the convenience of cane sugar anywhere — at home or on-the-go. They are non-GMO and naturally gluten free – pick up a bottle of spoonable crystals or a box of individual on-the-go packets at your local Walmart and also enter my giveaway at the end of this post!

Kiss of Honey Strawberry Hot Chocolate

Kiss of Honey Strawberry Hot Chocolate (serves 1)

  • 8 ounces fat-free (skim) milk
  • 2 to 3 large strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1 ounce quality white chocolate, broken into bits
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon Nektar Honey Crystals (depending on sweetness preference)
  • Garnish: colored sugar or sprinkles, if desired

To make, place milk and strawberries in a blender.  Blend together for approximately 45 seconds until strawberries are incorporated and froth areating up on top (strangely enough, skim milk works much better than higher fat milks).

Place blended mixture into small saucepan along with honey crystals and white chocolate.  Heat over medium-low heat, stirring gently until white chocolate is melted and drink is heated through. Pour into 12-ounce mug, top with colored sugar or spinkles if desired.

Enter giveaway below to try a bottle of Nektar Honey Crystals!

This post and giveaway sponsored by Nektar Naturals, however the recipe, opinions and enthusiasm are all mine! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Life of Party! 5-min Blue Cheese and Orange Gingersnap Appetizer

Blue Cheese & Orange Gingersnap BitesInvited to a holiday party, you dutifully ask “can I bring anything,” fully assuming the host will not want you to risk ruining her celebratory spread of nibbles and noshes. But this time (gasp) you to “it would be so lovely for you to bring an appetizer or dessert . . . if it isn’t too much trouble.” 

sweet treat personalityYou’re thinking –

“It really IS too much trouble, why’d I have to open my big mouth.”

 

 

 

As I see it, you have several options to this potluck-ish predicament. First, you could skip the party and save yourself the trouble. Second, you could show up empty-handed and blame it on the dog or dropping your dish on the way to the car. Third, you could attempt a fancy recipe seen in a gourmet cookbook and spend precious free-time hours in the kitchen with no guarantees of the results. Fourth, you could grab anything left on the store shelf like a bag of chips and onion dip and end up looking like an uninspired slacker. Or, fifth, and the obvious winning choice – make this proven to be insanely delicious app in a snap  — Gingersnap Blue Cheese & Orange Bites.

Gingersnap Blue Cheese Orange Bites

So many things to love about Gingersnap Blue Cheese & Orange Bites – the taste is insane with “pows” of sweet, spicy, pungent, salty and zesty citrus tastes with every bite. You also get pretty much every texture in the textbook too – crunchy, smooth, juicy and chewy. But, drum roll, one of the most amazing things about this appetizer recipe with a complex flavor profile yet simple presentation is that it can be made in 5 minutes or less. You don’t need a culinary school certificate to make this easy and elegant appetizer recipe — in fact, you don’t even need to know how to cook!

I originally made this hors d’oeuvre recipe for Litehouse Food as a way to feature their deliciously rich and creamy Artisan Reserve Center Cut Blue Cheese.

cooking light appetizer gallerLooking for more quick, easy and healthy nibbles for your party? Check out Cooking Light’s gallery of Top Rated Party Appetizers!

What is your favorite 5 minute appetizer? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

 

 

Gingersnap Blue Cheese Orange Bites
Blue Cheese and Orange Gingersnap Bites
Print Recipe
Razzle dazzle holiday guests with this 5 minute appetizer that mixes and mingles orange segments, blue cheese, honey and crunchy ginger cookies into a festive flavor experience worth celebrating any time of the year.
Servings Prep Time
36 appetizers 5 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Servings Prep Time
36 appetizers 5 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Gingersnap Blue Cheese Orange Bites
Blue Cheese and Orange Gingersnap Bites
Print Recipe
Razzle dazzle holiday guests with this 5 minute appetizer that mixes and mingles orange segments, blue cheese, honey and crunchy ginger cookies into a festive flavor experience worth celebrating any time of the year.
Servings Prep Time
36 appetizers 5 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Servings Prep Time
36 appetizers 5 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: appetizers
Instructions
  1. Lay gingersnaps out on serving platter. Top each with an orange slice and chunk of blue cheese. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with mint.
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DIY Holiday Tea Bags + Honey Crystal Giveaway #BeeSweet

mug of citrus teaOur family loves to use honey as a sweetener in everything from mugs of tea, smoothies, bowls full of healthy cereal and more – I even put it in water with lemon juice and a tiny dash of salt to make a homemade sports drink. However, messy and sticky bottles are a pet peeve of this mom – my kids can’t seem to keep from dribbling it all down the sides. Okay, maybe I’m a little messy too – like that time I stuck the honey “bear” in my purse for ice tea during a lunch out . . . . uh, and I bet you can guess the ensuing disaster. Metaphorical bees also get in my bonnet when cooler weather rolls in and my precious honey crystalizes in the jar – it can be rejuvenated by soaking in the bottle in hot water, but the honey is just never the same.

Nektar Honey Crystals products

I recently found a great way to get around all these honey dilemmas — Nektar Honey Crystals®, it’s Honey Without the Sticky Mess!® These 100 percent natural crystals are super yummy sweet and deliver the distinctive taste of honey and the convenience of cane sugar anywhere — at home or on-the-go. Nektar Honey Crystals are also a non GMO food and, of course, naturally gluten free. You can pick up a bottle or a box of individual on-the-go packets at your local Walmart – or maybe get lucky and will a bottle for yourself in my giveaway at the end of the blog post.

DIY Tea Bags made from cone coffee filters make a tasteful homade holiday gift!

I’ve been making homemade gifts for the holiday season using Nektar Honey Crystals®, edible gifts that include everything from cookies and sweet-savory spice rubs to these thoughtful DIY Pre-Sweetened Tea Bags. My DIY Tea Bags are made out of unbleached coffee filters, your favorite loose-leaf tea  and some spoons full of Nektar Honey Crystals®.  I have a recipe for the Citrus Ginger Mint Tea in the photo featured at Litehouse Foods – check that out if you need inspiration for your tea blend.

How To Make Tea Bags out of Coffee Fliters

Directions: Mix 3 ounces of your favorite loose leaf tea with 2 tablespoons of Nektar Honey Crystals®, (more or less depending on sweetness preferences). Add a couple tablespoons of tea mixture to inside of ‘cone” style coffee filter. Fold coffee filters per photo tutorial and staple on food-safe string and gift tag. Makes approximately 36 tea bags.  Steep in very hot water for 3 minutes and enjoy!

Honey Necktar CrystalsSo, are you ready to get in on the buzz of Nektar Honey Crystals®? Just enter my giveaway via the Rafflecopter app and you may win a bottle.

Giveaway notes: U.S. only, one prize per person. If you win this giveaway, and have already won another prize from Nektar Naturals through another blog, please disclose that you have already won so we can choose another winner. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post was sponsored by Fit Approach, however all opinions and enthusiasm are all my own!

 

Crunchy Baked Ancho Honey Salmon a Spartan Beast Feast!

So, I ran the Spartan Beast Dallas this past Saturday. It was muddy – really, really muddy thanks to record Texas flooding.  This is only the second obstacle course I’ve raced and the first as an elite —  I knew to expect the unexpected, but damn – it was a crazy from just trying to get into the parking lot . . . . . . . and then trying to get out, let alone the course.

Stuck in mud at Spartan Beast Dallas

The race was delayed while they rerouted the trail due to raging rivers. I got hungry. Then I got muddy – really, really muddy. I was hoping to dominate the running, but the ankle-deep mud made lifting each footstep up out of the muck difficult for me . . .and everyone. On this course, I think my favorite obstacles were the barbed wire crawl (the mud made for good slithering) and the monkey bars (because swinging around like a chimpanzee is just plain fun). Spartan Beast Dallas Barbed Wire Crawl

Spartan Beast Dallas Sand Bag Carry The bucket carry and sand bag carry were both hard obstacles given the incline of the hills and the slippery footing. I made a ton of mistakes but am excited to run another and see improvements in my strategy – and I’m happy to report that I came in as the 14th Elite and 2nd  Master Elite at the Spartan Beast Dallas  . . . and I’m not too badly banged up. The worst of it was a thigh rope burn and a goose egg on my head where I slid right into a tree limb!

 

Get 10% off a Reebok Spartan Race! Use Code: FINISH10. Sign Up Today!

Crunchy Baked Ancho Honey SalmonSo, enough about running and hurdling over stuff – onto the food! This easy dinner recipe for Crunchy Baked Ancho Honey Salmon is deliciously flavorful and surprisingly satiating even served atop a salad thanks to protein and heart-healthy fats. I love southwestern and spicy-sweet flavors and this fish recipe was inspired by a savory-sweet Ancho Honey Granola I made a few months ago – I originally served the granola on top of an heirloom tomato salad, but the leftovers are perfect for making a crunch topping. If you want to make the whole batch of granola (keep it in the freezer for long-lasting yumminess and recipe inspiration), check out the recipe post – otherwise, I have pared down the ingredients for just enough to make a topping for 4 salmon fillets.

So, how do you make your salmon? Saute, bake, special seasonings or sauces? And, have you ever run an obstacle course race — love it or leave it?  Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer

 

Crunchy Baked Ancho Honey Salmon
Crunchy Baked Ancho Honey Salmon
Print Recipe
The slightly-spicy, slighlty-sweet crunchy topping on top of succulent salmon is such a contrast in textures -- and a real treat! Clever enough for company, but easy for busy weeknight dinners.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 5 minutes
Crunchy Baked Ancho Honey Salmon
Crunchy Baked Ancho Honey Salmon
Print Recipe
The slightly-spicy, slighlty-sweet crunchy topping on top of succulent salmon is such a contrast in textures -- and a real treat! Clever enough for company, but easy for busy weeknight dinners.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 5 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
for topping
  1. Add coconut oil to large skillet and bring to medium-high heat.
  2. Add pepita seeds, slivered almonds and chili powder to skillet and stir for 1 – 2 minutes or until beginning to toast. Add 1 ½ teaspoons of the honey and stir to combine.
  3. Mix oats, chia seeds, dried cilantro and sea salt to skillet, stirring well to coat with honey mixture. Continue to stir over medium heat for approximately 5 – 6 minutes longer, taking care that honey doesn’t start to burn.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes on paper towels.
for fish
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.
  2. Place salmon filets, skin side down, on foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle tops of salmon filets with evenly with remaining honey; lightly rub in with fingers.
  3. Top each filet evenly with oat mixture, patting down with fingers. Bake in pre-heated oven for 12 to 14 minutes, or until salmon cooked through and flaking.
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Kiwi, Apricot and Feta Salad with Hemp Honey Dressing #NOWwellness

 

This post is sponsored by Now Foods via Mamavation.Gold Kiwi Apricot & Feta Salad with Honey Hemp Dressing is an easy, elegant and amazingly nutritious addition to your dinner party.

One of the best things about summer is the abundance of amazing fruit at every turn. Watermelons, berries, stone fruits, and exotic discoveries like golden kiwis! While everyday green kiwis are pretty darn good, the golden kiwi is especially exceptional. It’s a bit bigger and bursting with supersized flavor – so sweet!  My recipe for Gold Kiwi, Apricot & Feta Salad with Honey Hemp Dressing takes advantage of the season’s best offerings – and a yummy salty-sweet taste!

Golden Kiwi, Apricot and Feta Salad with Honey Hemp Dressing

NOW Foods Organic Toasted Hemp Seeds perfect for snack or recipes.

If you’re not familiar with hemp seeds, let me introduce you! Hemp seeds have so many nutritional benefits – this superfood is an excellent source of heart-healthy fats, is a complete protein providing all eight amino acids, and is rich in numerous vitamins and other essential nutrients. A tablespoon or so a day is the perfect nutrition boost for everyone, but an especially great option for those following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.  I’ve used NOW Real Food® Organic Toasted Hemp Seeds in my fresh and fit recipe – this seeds are lightly toasted and sprinkled with sea salt to enhance their nutty flavor.

Gold Kiwi, Apricot & Feta Salad with Honey Hemp Dressing Recipe

  1. Peel kiwi and chop into small bits. Peel and seed apricot and chop into small bits.
  2. To small bowl, add chopped kiwi, chopped apricot, feta cheese crumbles and 2 tablespoons of the hemp seeds. Gently stir until combined
  3. Divide mixture and press mixture into two 6 ounce ramekins. Place small plate on top of ramekin and invert quickly; gently tap to remove fruit.
  4. In small bowl, whisk together avocado oil, lime juice, honey and cumin until combined. Drizzle over top of salads and garnish with fresh herbs. Serves 2.

Here are some other wholesome ingredients from NOW Foods that I have been enjoying this summer in my healthy recipes:

LivingNOW Tri Color QuinoaTri Color Quinoa – I’m a big fan of quinoa, especially on those nights when I’m making a meat-free meal.  This product in the wholesome LivingNOW line features a pleasing blend of white, red and black quinoa and is certified organic and made in a dedicated gluten-free, allergy-friendly facility. Quinoa is a great source of protein and iron, making it a hearty and healthy meal when mixed with seasonal fresh produce.  One of the easy salad dishes I like to make in the summer is my recipe for Triple Berry Quinoa Salad – it would be perfect for the 4th of July!

 NOW Gluten Free Flour perfect for baking all your goodies up tender and light!All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour – Have gluten allergies? You can get out your mixing bowl and start baking again. This gluten-free baking flour uses ingredients that are free of gluten and eight of the most common food allergens.  The texture is surprisingly light and fluffy, making it perfect for cookies, coffee cakes, bread and more!

Garlic Coconut Oil -- perfect for stirfry, sauteeing and even drizzled on popcorn!

Ellyndale Organics™ Coconut Oil Infusions – Enjoy the rich taste of coconut oil (along with the health benefits) AND a punch of garlic with this oh-so-yummy oil. It’s great for sauteeing thanks to a high smoke point, but it’s also good on salads and . . . wait for it . . .POPCORN made in the microwave with a brown paper bag

 

 

Avocado Oil has a high smoking point, making it perfect for stirfrys, sautes, and even drizzled on salads.Ellyndale Naturals™ Premium Avocado Oil  Did you know Prevention Magazine named this versatile oil to their list of “100 Healthiest Packaged Foods”  — it’s all the healthy monounsaturated fats and Vitamin E! Perfect for sautéing and stir-frying thanks to the high smoke point of approximately 520°F! Avocado Oil is ideal for high-heat cooking such as sautéing and stir-frying – or just drizzle on your salads and other raw dishes for butter-rich deliciousness.

 

 

Stock up on these Pantry Staples:

What is your favorite fruit of summer? Have you ever tried hemp seed, how did you use it? Please share in the comments below! XOXO -Jennifer 

Honey Buzz! Not So Chunky Monkey Granola with Blue Diamond Almonds

Sometimes a girl needs a treat, and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of sweet. But, before you reach for a pint of ice cream, cupcake or even diet soda, you should think about enjoying a wholesome treat made with the oldest sweetener around – honey!  Even though honey contains simple carbohydrates and its fair share of calories, honey is in no way comparable to refined white table sugar.

honey

The combination of fructose and glucose in honey help to regulate blood sugar, meaning you won’t be jacked around with the jolt and subsequent crash found with regular sugar. An abundance of cancer-preventing antioxidents are inherent to honey as are gut-friendly bacteria (probiotics) that can help tame digestive issues.  Also, some believe eating locally-sourced honey can also help lessen certain seasonal allergies. The jury still out on this, but because honey tastes so good, I’m willing to take a daily spoonful for . . .er, medicinal purposes!

chunky monkey almond granola

Lately, a honey-sweetened (and pollinated) treat I’ve been enjoying are a couple new flavors of Blue Diamond Almonds – Honey Roasted Vanilla and Honey Roasted Chipotle. What’s not to love? Sweet, salty and crunchy with just the right level of supporting flavor – it’s impossible to say whether I love the Honey Roasted Vanilla or the Honey Roasted Chipotle better. Both are creating major buzz with my taste buds! Of course, almonds are perfect for eating right out of the can (I always keep them in my purse) but they also make recipes rock – like my honey and almond inspired Not Quite So Chunky Monkey Granola!

honey granola with chocolate, almonds and banana protein

 

“Not Quite So” Chunky Monkey Granola with Blue Diamond Almonds Recipe

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup organic honey
  • 1 medium banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (2 scoops) vanilla or plain protein powder
  • 1 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (Gluten-Free, if needed)
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ½ cup freeze-dried banana slices
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • 6 oz. can Blue Diamond Honey Vanilla Almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.
  2. Place the coconut oil, honey, mashed banana, water and protein powder and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Turn heat to medium-low and whisk until mixture is smooth, thick and creamy and just beginning to bubble. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla.
  3. Pour oats and coconut flakes into pot, stirring to combine and coat. Pour mixture out evenly on prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes, stirring once or twice. If granola still seems moist, keep baking in 5 minute increments until dry. Remove from oven and let cool completely on sheet. Crumble up in bowl and stir in dehydrated bananas, chocolate chips and almonds. .
  5. Store cooled granola in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.

*Sugared and honey-coated nuts tend to burn easily, so I add them after baking. However, if you substitute raw almonds, they may be added with the oats before cooking.

honey_badgeYou know what else I love about theses Honey Roasted Blue Diamond Almonds? The company donates money to help support honeybee research – to date, Blue Diamond has backed more than 70 studies in support of bee health. The almond industry, as a whole, is 100-percent reliant on honeybees to pollinate almond trees every season – and 1/3 of the world’s food crops are also pollinated by bees!

 

As an athlete, I also appreciate honey as a way to supplement my nutrition before and during a race or intense workout. As you probably know, carbohydrates are the primary (but not only) source of fuel the body uses during exercise. Honey offers 17 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon, making it a dense and efficient source of energy while on the run – literally. I will often stash restaurant “take-out” honey packs or convenient honey sticks in my pockets during a long run. And, as an athlete, I also appreciate almonds as a way to recover from a workout – it’s best to take in a protein-rich snack within 30 minutes post-exercise and almonds are a convenient, perfectly portable for travel, non-messy snack to stick in a gym bag.

I'm a sweet nut

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds, but all recipes and opinions are my own.