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.
Cookies are part and parcel of the holiday season in every family, in every culture, from Christmas sugar cookies, rugelach for Hanukkah, bene Wafers (sesame seed cookies) for Kwanza and more. All of these cookies are so yummy (really what cookie isn’t, chocolate krinkles are a favorite) but so many are loaded with sugar, refined flours and whatnot – and not to mention artificial dyes and colorings in the case of the typical decorations for cutout sugar cookies.
Sometimes it’s fun to create new, healthy traditions with your family that meet your own dietary restrictions, taste preferences and needs for optimizing performance. That’s why I came up with these Paleo Pistachio, Chocolate & Beet Cookies – there is no added sugar, 75 calories per cookie and only 5 grams carb. Plus, they are gluten-free but not vegan unless you use a vegan egg substitute.
The beet powder (I used Beet Essence from Green Foods) is rich in antioxidants, many of which help to reduce inflammation. Organic Cocoa, Sugarless Sugar (a stevia-based blend) and Coconut Oil from Now Foods create a sweet, chocolatey taste and pistachios give that salty, nutty taste I love – plus iron! Did you know pistachios are the most iron-rich nut of any?
Strange as they sound, everyone loves these Paleo Pistachio Chocolate Beet Cookies – even Lucy!
Last week, we devoured another winning cookie concoction, Paleo Gingerbread Cookie Brittle. This one is so easy, just smoosh into the pan and break! If you don’t want to cut into tidy wedges, you can just break it off in sweet shards!
What is your favorite “splurge” holiday cookie? Do you have a healthy cookie recipe you like to make? Have you ever been to a cookie swap? Please share in the comments, XOXO, Jennifer
It’s treat time! I’ve been caught with my hand in the cookie jar again, but this time it’s a Paleo-diet friendly cookie that is inherently gluten-free and also table sugar free! Paleo Gingerbread Cookie Brittle is very easy to make and will fill up your home with the wonderful spice-and-all-things-nice scent of the season. Crunchy, buttery and so delcious!
Almond and coconut flour are the foundation of this cookie brittle recipe, along with all the traditional gingerbread spices including ginger, cinnamon and cloves. To sweeten, there is a touch of blackstrap molasses and Ellyndale Naturals™ Sugarless Sugar™ . This sugar substitute has just 1/3 the calories of table sugar but tastes like sugar and bakes like sugar, cup for cap. It’s has a low Glycemic Impact and is made with natural ingredients include erythritol, organic inulin, organic stevia, and guar gum – the first three sweetener ingredients I mentioned are considered Paleo while Guar Gum, a legume extract used as a thickening agent, is technically not Paleo because it comes from the legume. Strict Paleo devotees may choose to swap for another sweetener – coconut (palm sugar) would be my suggestion, it just has a higher calorie count.
A couple tricks to making this cookie brittle. First, be mindful that you are pressing the dough down evenly and thinly, about a 1/4” to 1/3” inch thickness gives the best crunch experience. Second, if you want to have uniform pieces of brittle (rather than a charming jumble of broken off pieces), you need to immediately use a brownie cutter or pizza wheel to cut into the warm, soft cookie brittle before it hardens up. After cutting, don’t move the pieces until completely cooled. Third, eat “naked” or top as you please – I drizzled with chocolate melted with a dash of coconut oil but you could also do a lemon glaze or press in nuts before baking.
If you’re a Paleo cookie monster, you’ll also like my Salted Pistachio Chocolate Cookie
What is your favorite holiday cookie? What is your favorite holiday song? Are you running any holiday-themed races? Let’s chat, please comment below – XOXO, Jennifer
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
Maple Pecan Pumpkin Popcorn: So much goodness here, this is a delicious and easy-to-make fall snack. Forget about Cracker Jacks, make your own healthier autumn-inspired version with real maple syrup, a bit of butter and real pumpkin along withthe right spices. Also, did you know you can make your own “clean” popcorn right in the microwave with nothing more than a brown paper lunch sack – that’s how I’ve been doing it for years! Also, do NOT use maple FLAVORED syrup for this recipes, that would be a nasty, corn-syrupy shame. I love the 100% Organic Maple Syrup from NOW Real Food – it’s a light and delicate-tasting amber syrup that makes me think of a crisp, cool breeze and rustle of leaves with every taste! Recipe for the Healthier Maple Pecan Pumpkin Popcorn at the bottom of the post!
Also wanted to shout out some other this I’m loving this fall season. First, yay for the POPSUGAR, they sent me the September Must Have Box and, it’s definitely a must have! This awesome lifestyle subscription box always knows how to win me over with products that I’ll obviously love (like the GFB Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites) to unexpected surprises (like the Jack & Lucy Black Felt Hat) that I never knew I needed, but now wonder how I ever lived without! And this specially curated box of goodies even makes the practical contents (like the MANI E.R. purse manicure repair kit) super hip and cool.
If you are looking for a unique gift that gives for a month or e even all year, consider giving your bestie a subscription to the POPSUGAR Must Have Box. Use code SHOP5 (which never expires) at checkout to save $5 off your FIRST Must Have Box!
Second, I’m loving Tommie Copper Compression, again . . . as usual! But this time I’m focused on their compression “sleeves” made for nearly every part and parcel of our limbs! Sometimes I ask a little too much of my bod and not even a rest day can resolve my minor aches and pains. However, I really dislike being sidelined from training – – that’s why you’ll typically see me in some sort of compression gear. If you’ve ever seen my Instagram feed, you’ll see that I’m a huge fan of compression socks. But I also wear compression sleeves for ankle, knee, wrists, elbow and quads when needed for both during exercise support and post-workout recovery. Personally, I really like the Tommie Copper brand – the targeted compression sleeves are low-profile, unobtrusive and make my muscles, tendons and joints feel good (or at least lessen the feeling that I’ve been run over by a truck)!
Tweet “Maple Pecan Pumpkin Popcorn + Fall Faves @nowfoods @tommiecopper @PopsugarMH #ad”]
Of all the fall foods, what is your favorite? Or at least, favorite fall flavor? Ever try compression gear for anywhere other than your legs or rear? Please share in the comments, XOXO — JEnnifer
This post and giveaway sponsored by Hamilton Beach, however all opinions, comments, content and enthusiasm are my own.
One morning this summer I made a family favorite recipe for Pumpkin Protein Muffins. When the kids woke up to the amazingly “autumn” smell of cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin baking, they were disoriented. . .. but excited, nonetheless.! “Is it already Thanksgiving, mom? Did we sleep through the first day of school and Halloween and wake up in the middle of the fall holidays?”
By the way, I’m giving away a really awesome Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker from Hamilton Beach this week – this counter top appliance will Change. Your. Life. Hop to the bottom of the post to enter.
That got me to thinking. Why DO we primarily limit cooking and baking with pumpkin to the months of September through December? While fresh pumpkins may be seasonal, the canned puree is equally as nutritious and a heck of a lot more convenient. Pumpkin ( a fab source of fiber, vitamins Vitamin A, and healthy complex carbs) is a veggie I’d like to see more of in my life for the entire year! And, so here I am in September, as cliché as it may be, sharing a pumpkin recipe – but, good gourd, this one is workable into anyone’s busy schedule, 365.
Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protein Oatmeal – why, hello creamy pie-and-coffee-shop inspired morning concoction that is actually as nourishing as delish. I’ve used a blend of old-fashioned oats mixed with my favorite seeds (hemp, chia, flax, pumpkin – you can tweak as you like) along with pumpkin puree, creamy almond milk, and vanilla protein powder to bring each serving into the approximate 25g protein range which is what I strive for at my morning meal
***Please note, the recipe nutrition will vary based on the protein powder you use (I used Vanilla Whey Isolate from Now Foods) and mix ins (I used the Triple Omega Seed Blend from Now Foods) . With just 288 calories per hearty serving, I’ve kept this sugar-free recipes under 300 calories buy using my preferred cup-for-cup measure sugarless sweetener (Sugarless Sugar Baking Blend from Now Foods).
In a rush? This recipe takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. If you’re in a super morning rush, set everything out in the rice cooker (except the perishables) the night before and finish off in the morning. Oh, and did I mention that there is caffeine built right into this recipe thanks to steeping chai into the liquid used to make oatmeal. It’s genius. Of course, please use caffeine-free tea if you are sensitive.
Did you notice how I alluded to a Rice Cooker? The convenience factor here is that I’ve made this pumpkin oatmeal recipe in a Rice Cooker! You heard me right – rice cookers aren’t just for cooking rice anymore, you can make some amazing recipes in a rice cooker like cheesy grits, steamed salmon with rice and veggies, chocolate cakes and more! I’ve made my recipe in the 4-20 Cup Rice and Hot Cereal Maker from Hamilton Beach, it’s the best small kitchen appliance evahhhhh! I’m giving one away, jump to bottom of post to enter!
I resisted getting a rice cooker for a really long time, thinking it would just hog up space in my cabinets and rarely get used – not the case! It’s more of a “multi” cooker than a “rice” cooker and I it at least once a week to prepare a meal for the family – even my teens know how to make simple recipes for dinner in it. Plus, with a 20-cup capacity, it’s perfect for meal planning – I often double or triple my batches of rice, quinoa, oats or whatever I have going in in the cooker and then freeze portions for later in the month. It’s a busy mom’s best friend!
Have you cooked anything unusual in a rice cooker? What is your favorite fall flavor? Should pumpkin be a year-round thing? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer
Enter Giveaway Here:
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
I have a proposition! I’ll share my 15-minute Beef & Veggie Fried Rice recipe and with all the time you save on dinner, you’ll spend the 1 minute it takes to vote for me in the Eggland’s Best “America’s Best Recipe Contest”! My regional-inspired recipe is for Texas Egg and Steak Hash with Chipotle Street Corn Relish (copied the photo below so you know exactly what to vote for) — thank you, thank you!
Now, onto the 15-minute Beef & Veggie Fried Rice recipe (originally developed for Beeflovingtexans,com) — it’s a win on so many levels. Not only is it a lightening speed dinner solution, it can be kept simple enough that an older kid can make it. Honestly, realizing that my teenage boys were completely capable of cooking dinner every once in a while was a light bulb moment for me. What a relief to know I can call ahead and get them to start dinner on those crazy days when I’m stuck in traffic, sitting at another kid’s sports game or even trying to finish up my own workout.
One of the tricks to cooking the recipe so quickly is super-thinly cut sirloin steak — a method that also stretches my food budget as it makes the meat look like, well, a larger quantity than it actually is! So, just firm up your steak in the freezer for 10 to 30 minutes or before getting after it with a super sharp knife across the grain in razor-thin slices (like 1/8″ or less if you can). When the meat is this thin, it literally takes 3 minutes or less to cook with the stir-fry method — toss in the hot, hot skillet and stir around constantly and quickly just long enough to take the “red” of. Beef should still look pink when you take it off the skillet as it will continue to cook a tiny bit, trust me, it will always be juicy and tender this way! Do NOT leave it in the skillet or wok as you continue to cook the veggies, that will just cause a lot of undesirable toughness.
Another WIN is my recipe also includes a scramble of eggs, an assortment chopped vegetables selected by the young chef (a good trick to get kids to eat more veggies), a simple sauce and pre-prepared rice. Of course, you can cook your rice the old-fashioned way, but in a hurry and with the kids, I either keep those rice pouches from the frozen aisle on hand or meal prep my own and package into portions.
William, the 16-year old chef who picked out all the yummy veggies for this recipe and cooked them up for his mama!
So, no need to call for Chinese take-out to solve dinner – make your own healthier version in less time than it would take the delivery guy to show up. What’s even better than this? Getting the kids in the kitchen while you kick your feet up!
Looking for a more exotic fried rice recipe? Try my Coconut Macadamia Nut Fried Rice, it is soooooo swoon-worthy!
So, do you get your kids in the kitchen to cook? What’s in their repertoire? If you could only have 3 veggies (or fruits) in a stir fry – gasp – what would they be? Please share in the comments below – XOXO , Jennifer