Heading out on a summer vacation is my favorite time of the year, adventures abound, the weather is warm and the worries are few. The only worry that might be creeping into your conscious is falling off your normal diet and exercise regimen and returning home with a few extra pounds or diminished exercise performance. Nobody wants to call these souvenirs! However, with a little mindfulness, you can enjoy the extra little indulgences that a well-earned getaway offers, sleeping in late or a slice of the best local pastries “ever,” and still come home looking and feeling great.
My childhood years were fueled by a lot of English Muffin Pizzas. My parents both worked and this quick-fix meal or snack could be made in the toaster oven in under 10 minutes, reducing my mom’s worry that I was sitting at home starving, or worse yet, burning the house down. Naturally, I’ve taught my own three boys how to fend for themselves and make these little single-serve pizzas and variations of an open-faced sandwiches.
One of the perks of English Muffin Pizzas is that each can easily be adapted to suit picky palates and gourmet appetites alike. With just a quick switch-a-roo of ingredients (even leftovers found in the fridge or freezer), you can come up with a one-of-a-kind, personal-sized cure for any craving – even dessert! Check out these quick recipes using English muffins and solve your current breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack situation. Continue reading
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).
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
National Popcorn Day is coming up (January 19th) and that’s a food holiday on my food bucket list . . . my literal list of foods to eat from a bucket (haha)! But, seriously, popcorn is totally worth its salt as a snack food, it’s a healthy whole grain (a seed, actually) that is naturally low in fat and calories, non-GMO, gluten-free and a great source of dietary fiber. It’s inexpensive and delicious gobbled up simply fresh-popped or drizzled, coated or tossed with any number of other yummy things. And, “yummy things” is the segue into my recipe for Sugar-Free Caffe Mocha Popcorn.
Yes, Sugar-Free Caffe Mocha Popcorn! It’s like a coffee house and a movie theater hooked up and produced hundreds of perky little chocolatey offspring. It’s just so delicious, and you don’t even have to feel guilty – only 99 sugar-free calories!
I must say, I slayed yesterday’s tempo run and I think it was the dragon fruit smoothie I made for my afternoon snack. Just like the perfect run, where speed comes without too much suffering, can be elusive . . . so is the dragon fruit. You don’t see this beautiful tropical fruit very often, mainstream markets don’t usually carry them – so if you ever do see one, snatch it up! The Dragon Fruit, also known as a Pitaya, Strawberry Pear or Mood Flower, is the unusually striking fruit of a cactus – don’t worry, there are no thorns or stickers on it! There are different varieties – pink or yellow exterior and white or magenta interiors speckled with tiny edible seeds. Despite their showy appearance, the taste is quite mild, similar to a kiwi – I have found the yellow variety to be the sweetest.
Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit: First of all, like most fruits, dragon fruit is hydrating and provides healthy complex carbohydrates to fuel to body and brain. Dragon fruit is also surprisingly high in phytonutrients. Rich with beneficial antioxidants, this pretty (and pretty powerful fruit) a serving contains 10% Daily Value of vitamin C, polyunsaturated (good) fatty acids, a bit of protein, carotene, and several B vitamins that are essential for the optimal metabolism of carbohydrates.
I recently came into a huge windfall of dragon fruit from Frieda’s Produce, so I ate all I could simple by slicing open and digging out the flesh with a spoon! I’ve also sliced the fruit and put on my salads, in my yogurt and used in salsas. They keep for about a week in the fridge (wrap in plastic wrap to extend the life) and can also be cut up or pureed to freeze. Later this week, before I go into freezer storage mode, I’ll be making Dragon Fruit Chia Jam. Stay tuned for that!
Today, I’m sharing that smoothie I hinted at, the one that made me run fast – haha! My recipe for a Dragon Fruit Coconut Smoothie Bowl is a nourishing sweet treat that is a quick fix for breakfast, a pre or post workout snack or healthy dessert. It was almost too pretty to eat. Almost. If you can’t find the fruit fresh, I’ve noticed that many upscale grocery stores sell it in the frozen fruit section.
Dragon Fruit Coconut Smoothie Bowl
- 1 cup dragon fruit flesh (fresh or frozen)
- 12 ounces almondmilk/coconutmilk (the carton kind from refrigerated section like Blue Diamond)
- 1 scoop vanilla protien powder (or substitute 1/2 banana)
- 2 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 tablespoon cacao nibs (I like the ones from NOW Foods)
- Additional dragon fruit for garnish
To prepare, add dragon fruit, unsweetened coconut milk, and protein powder to blender. Process until smooth. Pulse in enough ice until desired consistency achieved. Pour into bowl (or tall glass) and top with shredded coconut, cacao nibs and additional dragon fruit if desired. Serves 1
Have you ever tried a Dragon Fruit? What is your favorite smoothie ingredient? Had a good, end-of-summer run lately? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of JOLLY TIME Pop Corn. The opinions and text are all mine.
Popcorn makes a super on-the-go snack swap, especially as a replacement for common convenience options like granola bars, chips, and cookies that can be higher sugar and fat. Naturally gluten-free and considered a whole grain, popcorn is high in dietary fiber and low in calories – plus for the visual eater, a serving of popped corn looks like a whole LOT of food! I’m especially fond of JOLLY TIME Pop Corn, their Healthy Pop line gets the thumbs up from Weight Watchers and most products are 94% fat-free and have just around 100 calories per serving (give or take) – that’s about 20 calories per cup!
So, y’all know I’m big on getting protein into my snack too! A bag (5 cups) of JOLLY TIME Pop Corn has about 4 grams of protein, which actually surprised me – I thought it would have zip, nada, none! I was wrong, popcorn does have protein! But, I like to pump it up with additional whole food add-ins – especially seeds! Tiny little seeds are powerhouses of nutrition – they are an excellent source of heart-healthy fats, protein and essential vitamins and minerals. For example, hulled hemp seeds are one of the most nutritionally complete sources of plant-protein – containing every essential amino acid an fatty acid the body needs for optimal health.
Check out my recipe for Sweet & Salty Four-Seed Pop Corn Balls made with Healthy Pop Kettle Corn hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds. Instead of a caramel to hold it together like you’d find in a traditional popcorn ball, I’ve whipped up a nutritious binder made from sunflower butter and agave syrup, a low-glycemic index, natural sweetener. This great snack or healthy dessert recipe is gluten-free, nut-free and has no added refined sugar – so enjoy and #haveaJOLLYTIME !
Trail Mix Pop Corn is also a family-approved winner at my house!
Also, please check out the Healthy Pop Challenge – get a free workout band, enter to win a FitBit Altra and grab coupons for JOLLY TIME Pop Corn. I love the idea that they have to workout while waiting for popcorn to pop – even little bursts of exercise add up. Depending on the length of your popping session and microwave settings (plan on an average of 4 minutes), you can get quite a few exercises done. Try these simple exercises in the kitchen while you wait:
Perform each exercise for 1 minute, as many times as you can safely, while you wait for JOLLY TIME Pop Corn to cook:
- Overhead band pulls (or pushup against wall, if no band)
- Air Squats
- Alternating Leg Lunges (in place)
- Jumping Jacks
Please share in the comments below, XOXO, Jennifer
Thank you Randalls and Albertsons for sponsoring this post. Check out the new Signature family of brands from Randalls and Albertsons, with more than 4,000 Signature products available and a 100% money-back guarantee.
Today I’m sharing my recipe for Hazelnut Pecan Protein Fudge Balls, a healthier dessert option for those days when the sweet tooth is acting up (pretty much all the time with me). This no-cook recipe is quick and easy and fits into my healthy, busy lifestyle so nicely – my family and I enjoy it as a more balanced option to candy – it has no added refined sugars, only honey.
With an approximate 3:1 carb-to-protein ratio, these energy protein balls also make a nice little workout recovery snack or race fuel to eat on the course.
It’s been my experience that the success of a no-bake recipe can only be as good as the quality of the ingredients that found within. I was a national name brand devotee in the past, but have found that many of the store-label products are just as good (if not better) than the items I grew up with. Randalls and Albertsons grocery stores are making it easy to tackle my shopping list and keep whipping up healthy recipes with their new, exclusive line of Signature products. From coffee to juice, soup to cereal, fresh fruits and veggies to fried chicken and other yummy pre-prepped foods, there are more than 4,000 different products available that help make my life tastier, easier and all-around neater (that’s because they also stock all my must-have home staples like paper towels and cleaning products)! Oh, and I’m saving money, too! Whoohoo!
I used Signature Kitchens Chopped Pecans, Signature Kitchens Clover Honey and Signature Select Hazelnut Chocolate Spread from Randalls in this yummy, easy protein snack recipe.
Seriously, I can’t express my love for Randalls enough, and not just for the Signature line. When they opened a location at the front of my neighborhood a few years ago, I literally cried from sheer joy– I’m not kidding! Prior to this, “a quick trip to the store to grab a few things” was a 1 to 2 hour time commitment depending on the time of day. I would have to drive about 10 miles one-way to make an emergency coffee restock for the morning or to pick up ingredients that were left off my list. Because of this, we often did without! Imagine the horrors and distress this created for me, an unorganized food blogger!
The staff at my neighborhood Randalls rock! The cashiers and managers know me personally, always take the time to smile and say hi, and answer my questions if I can’t find a particular product I need for a recipe. If I ever have a problem with a purchase (a rarity), it’s always resolved immediately — Randalls stands behind their 100% money-back guarantee on the Signature line of products. Management at this nearby location supported my oldest son’s Eagle Scout Project with a huge donation of bottled water and bakery cookies and promote health, fitness and an active lifestyle as sponsors of an annual fun run in the neighborhood. I am always the first one over to their tent to pick up water and goodies!
Find out what I’m raving about yourself! I buy my Signature products here in Austin at my local Randalls and Albertsons stores, but they are also found in the whole family of Albertsons Companies grocery stores including ACEM, Jewell-Osco, Vons, Pavilions, Safeway, Tom Thumb, Shaw, Star Market, United Express, United and Carrs/Safeway.
Also, enter for a chance to win one of 40 $25 gift card to Randalls so you can fall in love with the new Signature line of products, too! The giveaway ends on May 6, 2016 – must be 18+, a US resident and only one winner per household.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
With temperatures topping out over 90 degrees yesterday and bluebonnets popping up everywhere, it’s safe to say spring has definitely sprung in Austin. And, just in time for SXSW , paddle boarding on Lady Bird Lake and running the trails over Spring Break. This time last year I was making my Watermelon Brisket Tacos in the SXSW Taco Takedown, that was definitely a #KeepAustinWeird day. This year I am nursing some battle wounds from Spartan Houston and the Crossfit Games 16.4 Open WOD. However, nothing serious enough from keeping me out of the kitchen.
Today, I’m sharing a protein snack that is fitting for the warm-weather season – Raspberry Lemonade Protein Bites. The sweet-tart zing of this no-bake recipe will remind you of sipping on a refreshing glass of raspberry lemonade on the porch.
Make these ahead of time and keep in the fridge or freezer so you always have a healthy snack at hand – and, if you love the flavor combo of raspberries and lemons and have a five minutes to make breakfast, you’ll love my Raspberry Lemonade Protein Mug Muffin recipe.
Here are some important words of wisdom I have for you- haha:
By the way, I’ve added maca powder to this protein bite recipe for an extra nutrition boost. Maca, a root vegetable indigenous to Peru, has been beloved for thousands of years for its ability to improve stamina, endurance and hormonal balance. Maca root and maca powder includes vital nutrients including healthy fatty acids, dietary fiber, proteins, carbohydrates and minerals. If you want to omit, just replace with an equal amount of gluten-free baking mix.
It’s hard to believe that the vibrant fushia red color dusted on these protein bits is all natural and not some weird artificial dye mixed into sugar. Instead, the clever ingredient is simply raspberry powder I made by pulverizing freeze-dried raspberries in a zip-top bag with a rolling pin! This raspberry dust would also be fun and festive mixed into yogurt, sprinkled on your Easter desserts or even rimmed on a cocktail or healthy beverage.
Raspberry Lemonade Protein Bites Recipe
- 2/3 cup vanilla protein powder (2 scoops)
- 1/3 cup almond meal
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons maca powder
- 4 teaspoons coconut oil, melted
- 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons zest from Meyer lemon
- 1/3 cup freeze-dried raspberries
- Add protein powder, almond meal, maca powder and salt to bowl and stir until combined. Mix in coconut oil, lemon juice and mix until everything incorporated. Mixture should be a bit crumbly but holds together when squeezed. If too dry, add a few more drops of lemon juice. If too wet, add a dry ingredient like a gluten-free baking blend, more almond meal or more protein powder a half-tablespoon at a time.
- Using about 1 tablespoon of dough, form into 12 balls rolling between the palms of your hands.
- Place freeze-dried raspberries in small zip-top bag and use rolling pin or side of coffee mug to pulverize. Add a lemon ball, one at a time, into the sealed bag and shake to coat with raspberry dust.
- May be kept covered in air-tight container in refrigerator for a week or freezer for several months. Makes 12.
What are you doing over Spring Break? What events are you training for? Are you a lemon lover? I’d love to know, please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer