Monday, March 31, 2014

2-Week Ironman Triathlon

Swimsuit season is right around the corner! I don't know about you, but all of us here at PTF are looking for a way to stay motivated, and push ourselves with a little challenge. So here we are inviting you to join us on our very first exercise challenge!!

There are many ways that you can join in, so please don't let us lose you with the first explanation... the important thing is that we are pushing ourselves to either try something we haven't tried, or challenging ourselves to a new level (that maybe we didn't even think was possible!). It's time to claim Spring and gain confidence about ourselves and our bodies as we head into Summer. :)

Have you ever heard of an Ironman? Don't worry - that's not our exercise challenge.... well, not exactly. We are going to do a 2-week Ironman! Instead of completing all the events in one day as with a typical Ironman, we will have 2 weeks to complete all of those same events on your timeline and schedule (as long as it's all within that 2 weeks). The challenge includes 26.2 miles running, 112 miles biking, and 2.4 miles swimming. Everyone will do everything in their own time, keep track of their totals, and cheer everyone on in the process. (And maybe a little celebration at the end? We'll have to see if any of you are up for that! Our guess is yes... this is a great achievement!) No timing, no racing, just challenging yourself to get out and get moving!

We are starting this 2-week challenge on Monday, April 28th - so you have 4 weeks to plan ahead, commit yourself to participating, and start planning out your activities. We are super excited about the challenge, and would love for you to join in with us! We will be following up with a blog post in a couple weeks with more information like tracking schedules, access to pools (if you don't have a membership to one), and more information in general. If there are specific questions you have, be sure to leave them in the comments so we can address them.

If you don't feel like you can commit to the whole Ironman for whatever reason, but you are still interested in challenging yourself to a new exercise goal, feel free to join us. Some other options might be 
Sprint, Olympic, or Half Ironman Triathlon (see distances for each above). 
Your challenge could be running the total length of a marathon (26.2 miles) or half marathon (13.1 miles). 
Any combination of running, swimming, and/or biking that sounds challenging but fits with your current life situation is welcome!
Mark your calendars and stay tuned for more information.  If this already sounds like something you want to do, then let's do it! Comment below if you're joining us, and spread the word to your friends so they can join in on the fun. Use the hashtag #PTFtriathlon to follow along with people committing to the challenge and spreading the word!

Greek Yogurt Crispy Chicken

Let me start off by saying 1. this recipe only has 4 ingredients (that are common household ingredients) and 2. Its under 300 calories. I don't even need to go on, that right there makes this dish a winner.

I've had the usual baked chicken with either ranch or cream of chicken soup and cheese but those just aren't helping my body get swimsuit ready, so I made my own version and it is nothing short of delicious! Sometimes I like to think I'm on chopped and have to combine what little ingredients I have to make a delicious meal, which resulted in my greek yogurt chicken dish. I think the thing that makes this dish is the multi-grain tortilla chip coating. Have you tried those? We love them and they are SO much better for you than regular chips or crackers. It made the perfect crispy and healthier crust that I was looking for.

Greek Yogurt Crispy Chicken
PREP: 10 minutes           COOK: 45min up to 1 hr            READY IN: 55 minutes

  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
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  • 2 4-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast (thawed or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon ranch dressing dry mix (regular or spicy)
  • 1 cup crushed multi-grain tortilla chips (I used Food Should Taste Good, you can purchase at Costco)


  1. Preheat oven to 350º. 
  2. Mix Greek yogurt and ranch mix together.  
  3. Cover both sides of chicken with yogurt and ranch combination. 
  4. Place chicken in crushed tortillas and cover both sides. 
  5. In a greased baking dish, cook chicken in oven for 30 minutes (if thawed) or 45 minutes to 1 hour (if frozen) depending on the thickness of chicken breast. 


   1 serving    299 calories   8g fat   24g carbs   35g protein   4g sugar   


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Chocolate Zucchini Banana Bread

I told you in my post last week that when you make zucchini pasta, you need to save the centers that don't work for pasta so that you can turn them into some fabulously delicious zucchini bread. And here, my friends, I bring you the absolutely perfect recipe for using that leftover zucchini! (You could probably even use some of the leftover carrot if you're making pasta with them together!) Just throw those zucchini centers into the grater of your food processor (or grate them yourself, but be warned they'll be pretty moist since the seedy center has tons of water), and you'll come up with perfectly grated zucchini to add to this amazing bread.

This bread is not too sweet (with only 7 grams of sugar per serving, it only has 1/4 cup of honey plus the natural sweetness of the banana), but it is perfectly chocolatey, perfectly moist, and perfectly healthy (okay, maybe not as healthy as those veggie noodles you just made - but hey, if you just had veggie noodles you've earned a little indulgence!) This bread would be perfect as a healthy treat, or even as a yummy addition to breakfast.

Chocolate Zucchini Banana Bread
2 Loaves or 24 Muffins
PREP: 20 minutes           COOK: 45-50 minutes            READY IN: 75 minutes

  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
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  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional) 
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Spray two 8-inch loaf pans, or 24 muffin cups (or you can do 1 loaf pan and 12 muffin cups) with cooking spray.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients (flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt) in a large bowl. 
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the mashed banana, oil, eggs, honey, vanilla and almond extract. Fold in the grated zucchini, followed by the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared baking tins, filling about halfway. Bake loaves for 45-50 minutes (muffins for 25-30 minutes). Loaves are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or if you lightly press a finger the indent doesn't remain. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pans. 


    1/12th of loaf or 1 muffin    113 calories   4.3 g fat   17.9 g carbs    2.1 g protein    7.0 g sugar   

Recipe adapted from Weelicious.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Healthy Habits Challenge March: Eat Real Food, Part 4- Real Food Recipe Round Up

Welcome to the final week of eating Real Food. I hope you've made some baby steps towards implementing real food into your meals! My husband and I went on a little road trip this last week so needless to say life has been crazy trying to get back into our routine. I haven't had a chance to cook much (at all, actually) and am dying to get back into my healthy eating kick. I tend to crave healthy food after eating junk all week long! I noticed that as I was on vacation I just snacked all day long because I wasn't eating filling, nutritious food.

To get back into the swing of things it's important to have a menu plan (are you sick of me saying that?). Menu planning can be TOUGH, and I'm sure not a pro at it, but there are some awesome sites out there to help with your menu planning! 100 Days of Real Food has a link to their Facebook page, here, where they give you a great meal plan that is easy to follow. Give it a try!

Below are some of my favorite real food recipes for every meal that I'll be adding into this months menu planning!!


Breakfast Tostada via Happy Wives Club

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes via Pass The Fresh

Berry Chia Shake via Pass The Fresh


Oriental Chicken Salad via Pass The Fresh

Roasted Red Pepper Soup via Pass The Fresh

Greek Salad Sandwich via Skinny Taste


Chicken Pepper Stir Fry Skillet Recipe via The Country Chic Cottage

Low Carb Chicken and Sweet Potato Soup via Pass The Fresh

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Curry
Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Curry via Perry's Plate


Banana Fudgesicles via Divine Healthy From the Inside Out

Fresh Banana Ice Cream via Pass The Fresh

Avocado and Mango Salsa via Skinny Taste

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Grilled Pineapple

We've been firing up the grill a lot lately (HELLO SPRING!!) and it's been fun to mix things up in the kitchen with dinners we haven't had in a while. There are just some things that don't taste the same on a George Foreman as compared to an actual grill. Am I right? Or am I right? :)

I don't know if you've ever been to a Brazilian restaurant like Tucano's or Rodizio Grill, but their food is amazing. They have amazing meats and everything is always delicious. One of my favorite foods they serve is their grilled pineapple. By grilling it, it brings out the sweetness of the pineapple even more and it tastes like candy. It's incredible! So I thought I'd give it a shot at home and see if I could replicate their yumminess and I think I succeeded! You'll have to give it a try and let me know what you think.

Grilled Pineapple
PREP: 10 minutes           COOK: 10 minutes            READY IN: 20 minutes

  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
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  • 1 ripe pineapple
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Fire up the grill to medium heat.
  2. Cut the skin away from the pineapple. Slice into about 1/2"-3/4" sections. Core the middle of the pineapple slices (I just used a pairing knife to do this so don't worry if you don't have a corer.)
  3. In a small dish, mix together the olive oil, honey and cinnamon. 
  4. Brush the mixture on one side of the pineapple, and put that side down on the grill.
  5. Brush the mixture on the other side and let it cook for 5 minutes. Flip and cook for 5 more minutes and serve immediately.


    1 serving    39 calories   1.8g fat   6.4g carbs    .2g protein    4.8g sugar   


Monday, March 24, 2014

Healthy Spinach Lasagna Rolls

Okay, I have a confession. I'm OBSESSED with SkinnyTaste.  I go there constantly to find yummy, easy, and healthy recipes! I always come away from that site so excited to try a new one. And let me tell you, these spinach lasagna rolls were definitely worth the excitement... super yummy!!

Another great thing about these cute little roll ups, besides how cute they are, is the easy way to serve them. I feel like whenever I eat regular lasagna I always end up covering the whole plate with a pasta mess. So annoying. But these roll ups are easy to eat and easy to clean up! Something any chef wants in their kitchen!
Healthy Spinach Lasagna Rolls
PREP: 20 minutes           COOK: 40 minutes            READY IN: 60 minutes

  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
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  • 12 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 15 oz. fat free ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 20 oz spaghetti sauce
  • 3 oz part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded


  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Pour tomato sauce and half of spaghetti sauce on bottom of 9 x 13 baking dish. 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine spinach, ricotta, parmesan, egg, and salt and pepper. 
  3. Take 1/3 cup of cheese mixture, and wrap in lasagna noodle. Place noodle seam down in baking dish over sauce. Repeat with remaining noodles. 
  4. Pour the rest of the spaghetti sauce over the noodles and evenly spread shredded mozzarella. 
  5. Cover with tinfoil and bake for 40 minutes - or until cheese is melted. 


     2 rolls    449.8 calories   10.2 g fat   63 g carbs    26 g protein    

Recipe adapted from SkinnyTaste

Friday, March 21, 2014

Apple Chips

To go along with this month's Healthy Habits Challenge of eating REAL FOOD, I wanted to try making Apple Chips, which have been on my list for quite sometime. These are not hard to make at all so I'm not quite sure why I've put them off this long. Especially since my children really, really like them. The hardest part is making the time to let them bake in the oven for an hour. Which shouldn't be hard, but planning ahead just isn't my forté. :)

Warning: These will make your house smell delicious!

Apple Chips
PREP: 5 minutes           COOK: 60 minutes            READY IN: 65 minutes

  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
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  • 1 apple (I tried granny smith and gala and I kind of like the tart better) 
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 275º.
  2. If you have a madolin slicer, slice the apple using that. I didn't so I just did thin slices by hand with a paring knife. I was worried I wouldn't be able to make them thin enough, but I did and it wasn't hard so you can totally do this!
  3. Remove all the seeds. (You can core the apple if you want, but I didn't).
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  
  5. Lay out the apples so they don't overlap. I fit about 1 medium-large apple per baking sheet.
  6. Sprinkle the apple with cinnamon. Turn the apples over and sprinkler with cinnamon again.
  7. Bake apples for an hour. Let them cool and enjoy!


    1/2 apple    56 calories   0g fat   15.3g carbs    .1g protein    9.5g sugar   


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Health Habits Challenge March: Eat Real Food, Part 3- Tips for Real Food Lunches

Whether we are too busy or just plain forget, we all have good intentions of sending our loved ones out the door with a healthy lunch. A lot of times we resort to the typical PB&J or turkey and cheese sandwich because they are quick and easy. Well hopefully together we can learn a few tips on how to pack an easy and healthy lunch and cut back on the PB&J (although it is delicious!).

Here’s a list of guidelines I recommend sticking to while thinking of your weekly lunches, both for kids AND adults.

1. Prep your lunches for the whole week on Sunday. When I was working I would take a day and prep my lunches for the week. Sometimes I'd cook my chicken a head of time, other days I'd just have it cut and cubed in the freezer ready for me to cook in the morning before I left. I also liked buying pre-packaged foods that were easy, healthy, and fast to prepare. Example: Rice. They have awesome brown rice and quinoa combos that are ready in 90 seconds!

2. Choose lean meats. Chicken, turkey, ham, tuna, and low-fat deli meats are all great options. Extra bonus: They provide you with a great source of protein. A personal tip** My go-to meat is the pre-cooked grilled chicken strips from Foster Farms. They have no added hormones, no added steroids, and 0 trans fat. Makes its SUPER convenient to just toss it in a container and eat it later.

3. Include at least one serving of fruit. This is a great way to take in your vitamin A and C and they also contain fiber, which we all need more of! Try mixing up your typical fruit by either adding different fruits into your lunches to make a fruit salad or cut it up and top it with greek yogurt.

4. Eat your vegetables. If you can get creative with your veggies then your children, and in my case husband, will be more likely to eat it. If you have a sandwich top it with spinach or sprouts rather then lettuce. Pack a healthy salad with carrots, peppers, or cucumbers and place your dressing in a separate container to avoid the soggy-ness.

5. Toss the white bread. I get it, sandwiches are easy for lunch and we have them A LOT. Mix it up with whole grain bread or a whole-wheat pita. Try the thin whole-wheat bagels as a good substitute.

6. Limit snacks and baked goods. These always seem to sneak into lunches. You can cut out so many unnecessary calories by choosing your snacks wisely. Some great alternative snacks are popcorn (unbuttered or low-buttered), pretzels, yogurt dipped raisins, nuts, whole grain bread with a little nutella and coconut on top, etc. Get creative with your healthy foods!

7. For the kids, give them 100% juice. Most of the “juice” drinks out there are really just water and sugar and are doing nothing for your child’s nutrition. Try giving them naturally flavored water, or purchasing the true 100% juice drinks.

There you have it! Those little tips are great baby steps in eating a healthier lunch!

Below are 3 awesome lunch ideas!

Turkey, Apple and Brie Wrap 
Recipe found here.

Open-face Tuna and Avocado Melt
1/2 can tuna in water (drained)
1 slice whole wheat or whole grain bread
1/2 avocado
1 teaspoon low fat mayo
few thin slices of pepper jack cheese (optional)

1. Drain tuna and mix with mayo. 
2. Toast bread. 
3. Immediately after bread is toasted, place cheese on top. 
4. Layer on your tuna and top with a few sliced avocado. 

Mini Salmon and Pico Tacos
7 oz. salmon (cooked and chopped into bite size pieces)
chile lime spice (or spice of your preference)
1 cup chopped lettuce
1 cup pico de gallo (I just used pre made pico)
4 wonton wrappers

1. Preheat oven to 350º.
2. Thaw salmon. Cover both sides with your spices. Place on a greased fry pan over medium heat for roughly 10 minutes, flipping half way through. (**you'll know salmon is ready to flip when the bottom half is turning white).  
3. Meanwhile, in a muffin tin place your wonton wrapper in to form a bowl like shape. Grease the edges of wrapper with a little coconut oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Cook in oven until brown and crispy, roughly 10 minutes.
4. While wontons are cooking, chop your lettuce and salmon.
5. In your wonton wrappers start layering your salad! Start with a small layer of lettuce, followed by a generous amount of pico, topped off with a few oz salmon and another layer of pico to top it off!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Veggie Noodles with Thai Peanut Sauce

I realize I may be a bit behind the times here for anyone who is more experienced in the low-carb thing, but I am recently so excited about the idea of veggie pasta! For a while I've known about spaghetti squash as a good pasta substitute, but I've also discovered that there are a ton more options out there for substituting veggies instead of high-carb pastas and rice. Using a julienne peeler (or if you have time and patience you can do this with a knife) you simply thin slice any number of veggies to create easy to eat, super healthy carb alternatives. At first I wondered if they would need to be cooked somehow to make them soft and flexible enough to eat. You probably could do this with some recipes, such as with a hot pasta dish, but the thin sliced vegetables are just great uncooked with any number of dressings or sauces. (When I served this to my husband he was convinced that I had mixed in the veggie pasta with real pasta - I had to convince him that it was actually all vegetables!) My mind is reeling with the possibilities, and I can promise you will be seeing more of this from me in the weeks to come!

With this recipe, I used a favorite Thai peanut sauce that we've traditionally used as a pasta salad sauce. It's full of flavor, with just enough spice and tang, and the peanut butter makes it creamy and filling. For an even heartier meal with more protein, you could serve this salad topped with a fish fillet, or mix in some tune or shredded chicken.

A couple of tips about making the noodles ... Like I said, a julienne peeler  seems to be the best way to go for making these quickly and simply (or there are also more fancy contraptions out there that I haven't yet invested in, but that I may need to start putting on my wish list!), but you could also get a similar result using a knife. If using a julienne peeler, watch out because man, those things are sharp! Also, for the zucchini, I cut my slices starting with the peel until I got down to the seedy part in the center. The centers didn't work as well to create the long slices, though. Don't throw them out, though! I saved the centers and then used them for baking (as you'll see in an upcoming Chocolate Zucchini Banana Bread!).

Thai Veggie Noodles
PREP: 25 minutes           COOK: 0 minutes            READY IN: 25 minutes

  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
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  •  For the sauce:
    • 1/2 cup peanut butter
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 2 tablespoons lime juice
    • 2 tablespoons molasses
    • 3 teaspoons soy sauce
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
    • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • For the "noodles:"
    •  4-6 medium zucchini
    • 3-4 medium carrots
  • Toppings: peanuts, diced green onions, minced cilantro


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients until they are smooth and well combined.
  2. To make the noodles, using a julienne peeler, peel off long strips of the zucchini and carrots resembling long pasta. (See the head notes for tips.)
  3. Combine the zucchini and carrots in a large bowl. Toss with the peanut sauce right before serving. Top with crushed peanuts, green onions, and cilantro.


    2 cup serving    322 calories   17.9 g fat   31.9 g carbs    14.6 g protein    16 g sugar   


Monday, March 17, 2014

Homemade Mozzarella Sticks

Who knew you could make something so delicious, right in your kitchen?? These mozzarella sticks, which taste very similar to Arby's by the way, were a fun treat for us the other night. I'm always looking for ways to make fast food recipe items healthier and these definitely did the trick! They would also be a fun hands-on recipe for the little ones in your house.

Homemade Mozzarella Sticks
PREP: 35 minutes           COOK: 8-10 minutes            READY IN: 45 minutes

  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
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  • 6 mozzarella string cheese reduced-fat
  • 1/3 cup panko
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Marinara sauce


  1. Unwrap each string cheese and cut in half.
  2. In two small bowls, mix the panko and bread crumbs in one and the flour in the other.
  3. In another small bowl whisk the egg and milk together. 
  4. Dip the string cheese first in the flour, then in the egg mixture, followed by the bread crumbs. 
  5. Put cheese in the freezer for 30 minutes. (This step is essential. If skipped, the cheese will just make a melted mess!)
  6. Preheat your oven to 350º. Pull your mozzarella sticks out and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 7-8 minutes. 
  7. Serve with marinara sauce. 


    1 string cheese     167 calories   7.8 g fat   13.8 g carbs   11 g protein    0.9 g sugar   

Recipe adapted from The Gunny Sack

Friday, March 14, 2014

Chicken & Spinach Quesadilla

Everyone knows the basic quesadilla recipe - a tortilla and some cheese. Pretty basic, but always seems to satisfy the little ones. Well, the following recipe is a simple way to "spice" things up a bit. Throw some chicken and spinach in with your cheese and you have this gourmet chicken and spinach quesadilla.

One thing we discovered is if you can "crease" the edges of the tortilla, the chicken stays in a lot better - making it easier to dip and easier to eat... perfect for those little hands!

*** One simple way to mix the recipe up even more is to dip the quesadilla in our Family Favorite Guacamole recipe.

Chicken & Spinach Quesadilla
PREP: 20 minutes           COOK: 10 minutes            READY IN: 30 minutes

  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
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  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1 cup spinach, broken up into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup salsa, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/4 cup low fat sour cream


  1. In medium bowl, mix shredded chicken, spinach, and cheese.
  2. On griddle (or large skillet), place tortilla with chicken mixture spread over half of the tortilla. Fold over the tortilla and "crease" the edges by pressing a spatula into them. 
  3. Cook each side of tortilla for 3 - 4 minutes, or until cheese has melted and tortilla is crispy.
  4. Serve with avocado, salsa, and sour cream - as desired.


    1 serving    581 calories   33.2 g fat   33.5 g carbs    36.2 g protein    3.5 g sugar   

Recipe adapted from Real Simple

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

One of our favorite veggies to have with dinner is brussels sprouts. I'm not kidding... my oldest son practically begs for them at the store. I had never had them until about 3 years ago when he was in preschool and they talked about them for the letter 'B'. That week, he said we had to eat them. We did and the rest is history. They are simple to make, the hardest part is quartering them. But you can always do that during the day, or nap time, and finish the rest while you're making dinner.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
PREP: 15 minutes           COOK: 30-40 minutes            READY IN: 45-55 minutes

  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
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  • 1 pound brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. Remove any loose leaves on the brussels sprouts and quarter. 
  2. Put the brussels sprouts in a medium to large bowl, toss in the olive oil until coated.
  3. On a large cooking sheet lined with parchment paper, dump out the brussels sprouts and move around until they aren't overlapping too much.
  4. Sprinkle the salt, garlic powder and pepper on top. Bake, flipping every 7-8 minutes. They will be nice and golden when they're ready to come out. Enjoy!


    1 cup serving    140 calories   10.9g fat   10.5g carbs    3.9g protein    2.5g sugar   



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