Tea is . . . my cup of tea! I love that there are so many varieties available that meet me my body where it is for the day, whether that’s requiring an instant pick-me-up, desperately craving better sleep, or feeling bloated and in need a diet detox. Plus, the world’s most popular beverage, is packed with an abundance of antioxidants (varies on the type of tea) to help boost immunity and optimize overall health and well-being. This month, I’ve been jump-starting my mornings with Lemongrass-Mint Matcha Chai Latte, it’s a exponentially more wholesome, herbal alternative the carbonated sugar-free energy drinks I sometimes guzzle prebreakfast (we all have vices, people). After just a few sips of this steaming green goodness, I know that the cold weather, shortened daylight levels, and lengthy to-do list are going to be so much more bearable.
Brighten up any winter snack situation with these Vibrant Greek Yogurt Dips colorized with some of Mother Nature’s most vivid ingredients including beet powder, turmeric powder and matcha tea. No need to go all fake and freaky to create edible rainbow colors for your holiday appetizers and other fun recipes throughout the year. These natural ingredients are superfoods (typically found on the health food, spice and tea aisles) and not only pump up the pigment, but boost nutrition as well!
While there are lots of additional benefits, beet root powder boosts nitric oxide in your blood (helping circulation, blood pressure and stamina), ground turmeric is a spice that can help to reduce inflammation and lessen the perception of pain, and matcha tea is known to boost the metabolism, calm the mind and help protect against certain cancers.
The other beauty of these three Vibrant Greek Yogurt Dips is how easy they are to make – I originally created the recipes for Litehouse Foods using first their Homestyle Ranch Dip, then later the OPAdipity Greek Yogurt Dips and finally with Greek yogurt from scratch. Using prepared dips (found in the refrigerated section of your produce department) is an “almost homemade” shortcut perfect when you need to pull together a party ASAP or at the 11th hour realize you didn’t bring a dish for the office shindig. I feel more than comfortable using the Litehouse Foods brand because they are VERY mindful to keep their products as fresh and preservative as possible.
But, knowing these dips aren’t easy for some of you to find (and that many prefer scratch recipes), I’ve written out the full preparation of the recipes (and then noted how to swap in the prepared dressings if that’s the route you choose). The base recipe is the same for all three dips, simply mix in 2 tablespoons of the chosen “superfood” ingredient and add extra garnish on top as desired!
These dips also take sandwiches, wraps, side dishes and steamed veggies to the next level with just a drizzle or dollop! Enjoy and Happy Holidays to Hue!
If you need a visual on the beet powder, ground turmeric and matcha — here are the products I used:
Ready for a curiously crunchy treat? My recipe for Apple, Walnut & Quinoa Crunch will satisfy sweet crispy cravings while filling you up longer thanks to an unexpected punch of protein from the quinoa and black walnuts– it’s a balanced candy for your “healthy tooth”!
I almost hesitate to even call this easy-to-make recipe “candy,” although it is a take on old-fashioned “nut brittle.” However, the typical peanut brittle or nut brittle uses a boatload of butter, table sugar and corn syrup – gasp! Instead, my healthy candy recipe is packed with wholesome ingredients like 100 percent juice apple cider, ancient grains, dried fruit and nuts, and just a touch of coconut sugar.
I also choose to use Black Walnuts instead of standard english walnuts. Why? The black walnut has the most protien of any tree nut and imparts a more intense, earthy, nutty flavor to recipes. I discovered this news I can definitely use at the Produce Marketing Associations recent Fresh Summit in Orlando when, I auspiciouslly bumped into Hammon Black Walnuts on my way out the door to fly home.
As far as sugars go, coconut sugar (derived from Palm) is a much healthier sweetener in moderation as it doesn’t spike blood sugar as dramatically as traditional sugars. Also, if a concern for you are a loved one, this recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free.
I originally made this recipe for Litehouse Foods and used the Honey Crisp Apple Cider, you can find it in the produce section this time of year. This Cold Pressed, 100 percent pure apple juice has a unique tart taste that is wonderfully balanced with sweet. It’s perfect poured straight from the container, served hot or cold, and also makes a great ingredient in recipes where you would prefer natural sweetness.
Some things to note when making this recipe — you need to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn, your oven temperature may vary affecting the overall cook time. Also, it will be soft when removed from oven — give it plenty of time to set up and harden, stick in the fridge to expidite. If it still doesn’t seem crispy, then you can put it back in the oven for several minutes at a time until done.
Another healthier “candy” I’m pulling from the archives to share with you today is my recipe for Sweet Date Chocolate Candy Bar Bites. These are so yummy and I love how the dates provide extra iron in my diet.
I also like to make a batch of my Hazlenut Fudge Protein Balls to stash in the freezer and thaw out one at a time to quell my dessert cravings. These no-bake energy bits are ideal for a healthy little dessert or as pre and post workout fuel.
In addition to the Honey Crisp Apple Cider from Litehouse Foods, which you can conveniently find in your market’s produce section this time of year, here are some other ingredients used in my Quinoa Crunch.a
Do you have a “healthy” candy recipe? What is your go-to when you are craving something sweet? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer
When I’m looking to make a meat-free soup into an entire meal, I have couple non-negotiable. The soup needs to be hearty and thick (as opposed to thin and brothy), it needs to have tons of flavor, and also should have a decent showing of protein. My recipe for Vegan Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup with Cilantro Chimichurri meets all of these requirements and more — the “more” bonus is that it’s super easy to make and is loaded with healthy carbs to fuel my long runs and intense workouts. Slightly spicy while simultaneously smoky and just a tad sweet, a big hearty bowl of this meat-free, dairy-free, vegan soup will get you warmed up and keep you filled up until the next meal! My serving size is very generous and, sans the chimichurri, has 400 calories, 20 grams of protein, 80g healthy complex carb, 4g fat – plus is very high in potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
Nutrient-rich sweet potatoes blended into vegetable stock make up the bulk of this super simple soup recipe. Pureed white navy beans have been added for additional protein and fiber and help boost this soup into a full-fledged meal appropriate for vegans, vegetarians or anyone looking for a nutritious meatless option. As I mentioned, this is a great go-to soup when I’m carb-loading for winter marathons, Spartan races and other endurance events.
When making this simple soup, a step you don’t want to skip is to “bloom” the chipotle chile powder in the stock pot before adding any of the other soup ingredients. Blooming most spices helps to intensify their depth and complexity — the smoky flavor of ground chipotle pepper really opens up with this front-end method.
I originally developed this recipe for Litehouse Food’s Living Litehouse Blog using their Instantly Fresh Guacamole Blend as a quick fix in both the soup and the quick-fix Cilantro Chimichurri. I highly recommend this freeze-dried herb product, it’s one of my all-time favorites with multiple uses beyond just guacamole making – try it in soups, stews, casseroles, stir-frys, and skillet dinners. However, if you can’t find the product in your market, I’ve asterisked the recipe with substitutions.
The Cilantro Chimichurri blended up to dress the soup is a bright and vibrant contrast to the more scarf-and-sweater vibe of the hearty soup. Plus, it adds a drizzle of heart-healthy olive oil to a soup recipe that is nearly fat-free. You can also use this Cilantro Chimichurri on drizzled on steak and fish, as a salad dressing, or mixed into Greek yogurt as a dip.
How are you prepping your sweet potatoes this fall? What is your favorite type of soup? What fuels your running the night before? Please share in the comments, XOXO — Jennifer
Just when I think I’ve tasted every type of fruit and vegetable there is to eat (ever been to Produce Convention), I realize that a tasty treat has slipped past my radar – the Cherimoya. Mark Twain once likened the cherimoya “deliciousness itself!” – how did I ever miss the memo on this quite large and armored lizard-skinned looking fruit!
Once set aside solely for ancient Incan royalty, this “King of Fruit” is still a prized possession – they are delicious and hard to find . . . and usually fairly big-bucks if you do. But, so worth the investment as you will gobble up this healthy treat in a single sitting, especially if you have a friend sitting nearby with a spoon. The flesh inside is amazingly fragrant, soft, sweet and scoopable – there some seeds inside, but they aren’t too hard to flick away. When selecting afruit, pick a cherimoya that is still green but showing minor signs of turning brown soon. Like an avocado, the fruit is ripened with the flesh yields to a gentle touch. So, if your fruit is still green and hard, let it ripen on the counter for up to three days – or stick in a paper bag to speed the process along. Check out my friends at Frieda’s for other great Cherimoya Recipes and Tips.
So, my top 3 ways to chow a cherimoya are:
1) Sprinkle with Spices: Sliced in half and sprinkled with cinnamon, dash of nutmeg and a bit of honey drizzle – I swear it tastes just like apple pie. My kids think it tastes more like a pineapple and banana that got married and laid a big prehistoric egg. Either way, it’s a taste bud winner – haha!
2) Mixed into Oatmeal: I put chunks or puree of cherimoya in my morning oatmeal. This is a great way for me to boost up the vitamin C, potassium, and in my fiber in my daily diet. If I find the fruit on sale or can’t eat what I’ve purchased before going too ripe, I simply puree the fruit in the blender with a tiny splash of lemon juice and freeze in heavy-duty zip-top bags (above picture). This will keep in the back of your freezer for 6 months! You can also sub in for 1/2 the oil in baked goods as you would applesauce, pumpkin or another fruit puree.
3) Blended into Smoothie: Blending cherimoya with orange juice is traditional but my recipe for Cherimoya Apple Cider Smoothie is super yummy. I use one of the delicious, cold-pressed, 100% juice apple ciders from Litehouse Foods — so fresh you need to look for it in the produce department!
Directions: Add 2 tablespoons oats to bottom of blender, pulse for a few seconds to grind up. Add ½ cup cherimoya puree (preferably frozen) or fresh chunks, 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, ½ cup apple cider, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon honey (or sugar-free alternative) to blender and blend for 1 minute, adding a few ice cubes to achieve desired consistency. Serves 1.
Also, I want to share with you my favorite little luxury each month – it’s the PopSugar #MustHaveBox from POPSUGAR. The Must Have Box is a specially-curated monthly subscription that is filled with full-sized products across fashion, beauty, home décor, upscale edibles and more. I absolutely have adored everything that’s come in my monthly box – often they are splurges that I would never buy myself (but am oh-so happy to have) or fabulously off-beat, quirky things that I never knew I needed until I have in my hot little hands – and then I’m hooked!
The October box included a book, Power Your Happy, by POPSUGAR founder Lisa Sugar, a gorgeous umbrella from Henri Bendel (along with a shopping discount card), Dark Drinking Chocolate (by My Cup of Cocoa) and a Rise & Shine Diner Mug (by Morning Culture). The Lalicious Bubble Bath, Revlon Eye Pen and Makeup Eraser Mini really spoke to my girly side, that’s a nice treat when a mom of three boys! Check out some of the past Must Have Boxes and sign up for a subscription that suits you – save $5 on your first box with code SHOP5. Whoohoo!
What is your MUST HAVE this month? Tip me off on your new, most favorite, most awesome find! Oh, and have you ever tried a Cherimoya?! Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennnifer
Football parties, tailgating and fall season gathers require dip to draw people together. Just think of all the great gossip, high-fiving and friendly smack talk that has gone down in, what I like to call, the “Chip and Dip Zone.”
But, maybe you hesitate to enter the ZONE for fear of the cheesy dip – is it made of mystery processed “cheese,” loaded with fat upon fat, or just boringly bland? I’ll admit, these thoughts cross my mind, especially flashbacks of tepid fake orange stadium cheese on stale round tortilla chips. That’s why I came up with my Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso – it’s bold and it’s better for you made with REAL ingredients.
I think you’ll definitely widen your mind (and mouth) in appreciation for my Blue Cheese & Fire-roasted Tomato Queso. This unique cheese dip marrieds the audacious attitude blue-cheese with the smoky laid-back goodness of tomatoes roasted over flames. I’ve used my fav brand of blue cheese (Simply Artisan Reserve Blue Cheese Crumbles) and canned fire-roasted tomatoes which. Of course, canned tomatoes are convenient and taste great in recipes, but did you know that they contain more lycopene (a free-radical destroying antioxidant) than those fresh off the vine? It’s true!
While this cheese dip recipe requires a whisk, it’s quite easy prepare, coming together in just 15 minutes or less– and you can keep it warmed for a party but pouring into a small slow cooker. It was first whipped up to celebrated International Beer Day with Litehouse Foods. Using low-fat dairy products help keep this snack sensible in moderation and, if you are on a gluten-free diet, it is easy to swap out flour used in the roux with a gluten-free flour blend (I use Living Now Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour, it’s inexpensive and provides the right texture for my recipe)
Serve Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso with veggie sticks, artisan chips, or chunks of crusty bread. I’ve even reheated the leftovers and poured over cooked zoodles and topped with shrimp for an impromptu “pasta” dinner.
If you are hosting a huge football party, you might want to consider adding my Healthy Snack Stadium to your spread of snacks, appetizers and game-day grub.
[Tweet Not yer stadium cheese dip! Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso #fitfluential #livinglitehouse”]
What football team(s) are you rooting for this season? Are you typically an at-home or stadium spectator? Please share in comments, xoxo Jennifer
We eat guacamole by the truckload over here and I see nothing wrong with that! — I mean, HELLO heart-healthy, creamy, satiating fats! This simple pleasures is a staple in my life, dolloped on my salads, sandwiches and veggies sticks. Making a yummy meal and NOT having guacamole within lifting distance from my lips feels like a hot date that didn’t end with a kiss. Such a bummer!
I’ve used avocados every which way and have a dozens of guacamole recipes in my mealtime rotation. A recent creation is “Gimme Mo” Mojo Citrus Guacamole with a sensational Latin American-inspired twist that is perfect for plantain chip dipping, toast smearing and fish taco topping.
Before jumping into this quick and easy guacamole recipe, let me give you the quick 411 on the magical sauce that inspired it. While originating in the Canary Islands, mojo is a simple sauce that is now splattered and slathered on nearly everything edible in Central America, the Caribbean and parts of the southern U.S. With as many regional variations as there are uses for this quintessential Latin condiment, I’m most familiar with the Cuban preparation. Cuban mojo is made with olive oil, sour citrus juices (like bitter orange and lime juice), oregano, and garlic – loads and loads of garlic. It’s often used as a marinade for pork, chicken and seafood, a dip for fried plantains or yucca, or for dressing veggies and potatoes.
I love the mojo flavor profile and have done past recipes like Mojo Steak Kebabs and Mojo Chicken with Grilled Oranges (below) are both delicious! This guacamole would be a perfect complement to both! Not only can “Gimme Mo” Mojo Citrus Guacamole be served atop a main dish on the dinner plate, to the side of a salad, or in a festive dip bowl – it also makes a clever single-serve presentation scooped into the emptied halves of the orange peel.
I originally developed this recipe for the new Guacamole Herb and Spice Blend from the Instantly Fresh line at Litehouse Foods.It’s a mixture of freeze-dried herbs and seasonings (including cilantro, garlic, red onion and red chili) that make it easy to get the guacamole bowl filled to the top “chop-chop” without endless slicing and dicing! There are no preservatives or other yucky chemicals in this convenient spice blend that you can pick up on the spice aisle or in the produce department (although it doesn’t need to be chilled). If you find a bottle, just swap out the red onion, jalapeno and cilantro in the recipe below for 4 tablespoons of this magical spice blend.
Are you an avocado addict? How many would you guesstimate you eat in a month? What is best thing you’ve dipped a chip or carrot stick into lately? Please share in the comments, XOXO – Jennifer
Are you scrambling to get out the door on time when the sun rises and skipping (or stumbling) right past breakfast? Missing your morning meal is a mistake for sure – I always end up getting “hangry” mid-morning and end up molesting the vending machine. That’s why I like to plan ahead just a bit to have ingredients on hand to make a quick fix like the Asparagus Egg Scramble with Feta Cheese I’m sharing today or to prep a make-ahead meal such as my Barn Raiser Beef & Egg Casserole (freezable in individual portions).
So, if you’ve got 10 minutes in the morning, you have a whole 600 seconds to get cracking on this Asparagus Egg Scramble with Feta Cheese. If you prep veggies the night before, you might be able to get it done more quickly! This easy egg recipe also makes a lightning-speed dinner solution on those nights when orchestrating a complicated meal is absolutely, positively out of the question.
This is how to get the speed you need -asparagus, spinach and tomatoes sautés together on the stove top while eggs are scrambled on a nearby burner. When the two skillets are just seconds from being done, just slide out the contents from one into the next and stir!
I’ve give this breakfast dish some salty, tangy zip thanks to the distinctive flavor of feta cheese – love using the new Simply Artisan Reserve Feta Cheese Crumbles, the container sprinkles these tiny cheese pieces just like a grated Parm. It’s genius! Look for it, along with Bue Cheese Seaons in the specialty cheese section of your local grocery store.
I’ll be sharing this recipe on the Expo Floor Sunday morning, Jun 5th, at the International Deli-Dairy-Bakery Food Show in Houston, Texas. Swing on by, if you’re attending!
Meanwhile, make an easy feat of feasting with the Asparagus Egg Scramble with Feta Cheese recipe! Serve straight from the skillet or spoon atop toasted whole grain toast – I’ve even bookended between bread to eat sandwich-style when rushing out the door. Enjoy!
What is your biggest hurdle getting out the door in the morning? Eggs, how do you take them? Are you running or competing in anything this weekend? Please share in the comments — XOXO, Jennifer