Friday, February 28, 2014

Sugar-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Happy Friday and Happy Last Day of February!

Thanks for joining me this month in my Healthy Habits Challenge to Eat Less Sugar! I've technically made it to the end of my own sugar-free challenge that started January 1. While you might be thinking that I should totally celebrate this weekend and go out and eat tons of the treats I've been staying away from since January, I honestly have felt so good about the changes I've been making I plan to keep it up longer. I'll probably give myself a bit more leniency, but I definitely plan to stay 100% away from super-sugary foods like candy. Mostly because I know I have such a weakness that it is a slippery slope for me - but also because I figure there is so little good in them, if I'm going to indulge I might as well look for high-quality indulgences! But, though I won't be spending the weekend eating the bag of cinnamon bears that my mom sent me for Valentine's Day, it's entirely likely that I'll make up another batch of these lovelies! These scrumptious darlings are fantastic not only because you can make them as sugar-free (read: guilt-free) as you like, but they have the healthy bonuses of real peanut butter - not that faux-whatever that is inside packaged PB cups. Not that I can denigrate Reese's too much, because I won't deny that they are a favorite of mine.  No longer, though - I am committed to bigger and better things!

So, let's raise our "cups" to making a healthy habit out of eating less sugar! And, as they say in Spanish ... "Salud! To your health!"



*I should explain that when I say you can make them as sugar-free as you like, I mean that you can sweeten up or down both the chocolate and the peanut butter filling depending on your preferences. The chocolate cup is definitely intended to be a dark chocolate so that the sugar content is lower. I try to stick with 72% or darker, and ideally 85% or darker. If you want to sweeten the chocolate a little more without added sugar, you can add Stevia. Same goes for the peanut butter filling: you can put it in au natural with no added sweetener, or you can sweeten it up a bit with either a touch of Stevia (don't overdo it or you get the aftertaste) or even a bit of honey. 
Sugar-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
12 SERVINGS 
PREP: 15 minutes           REFRIGERATE: 20-30 minutes            READY IN: 45 minutes


  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
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INGREDIENTS


  • 6-8 ounces dark chocolate pieces (72% or higher, unsweetened baking chocolate can be used but will need some type of sweetener)
  • 1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil
  • 4 tablespoons natural peanut butter (with a drop or two of liquid stevia or 1/2 tablespoon honey, if desired)

DIRECTIONS


  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate pieces and butter/coconut oil. Melt by cooking in the microwave for 1 minute, then stir, followed by 30-second intervals of cooking with stirring in between until the chocolate is smooth. 
  2. Using paper candy wrappers or a miniature muffin tin (greased beforehand), spoon in a thin layer of chocolate to each spot and spread slightly up the sides. Place the tin in the refrigerator or freezer to allow the layer to harden. 
  3. Once you have a layer of chocolate in the bottom of each container, place approximately 1 teaspoon of peanut butter in each, followed by another layer of chocolate over the top. (You can also sprinkle the top with coarse salt for salted peanut butter cups.) Again, place the tray in the fridge or freezer to allow the chocolate to harden.

NUTRITION FACTS



    1 piece    119 calories   8.8 g fat   7.4 g carbs    2.5 g protein    4.2 g sugar   

Enjoy!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sugar-Free Apple Crisp

As you all know, I've been on something of a sugar detox for the past two months. It has been awesome, and I've really noticed that my sugar cravings have significantly decreased and become super-manageable. (If you want to hear more about it, check out my other posts here, here, and here.) That being said, however, I won't deny that I still have moments where I just want to enjoy a special treat. This recipe is perfect, because it is 100% free of added sugar, but it still totally feels like a treat! The apples and cinnamon are plenty sweet, and the almond meal crumb topping has a perfect crunchy texture. I personally don't miss the sugar at all when I eat this! (Okay, full confession I will admit that the first time I made this I was going to be sharing it with friends, so I cheated and added a tablespoon of honey to both the apples and the topping. I've become a little paranoid that my tastes have adjusted so well that others will find the lack of sugar too noticeable. Honestly, though, they seemed to enjoy it just fine, and when I made it again without any added sweetener I (and my husband too as my impartial judge) didn't notice a difference.)


Sugar-Free Apple Crisp
4-6 SERVINGS 
PREP: 15 minutes           COOK: 45 minutes            READY IN: 1 hour


  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
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INGREDIENTS


 For the filling:
  • 4 tart apples (I used Granny Smith)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon  
 For the topping:
  • 1 cup almond meal/flour (or 1 1/2 cups and omit the oats if you want it grain-free)
  • 1/2 cup oats 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter (softened) or coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 tablespoons pecan pieces (optional)

DIRECTIONS


  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Cut the apples into thin slices. Combine with lemon juice and cinnamon.
  3. Combine the almond meal, oats, cinnamon, butter, water, and pecan pieces in a mixing bowl. Mix until they form a slightly crumbly dough. It should be wet enough that it will just hold together if you form balls (you can add a few more drops of water as needed).
  4. In a round or square baking tin (e.g. 8x8 pan or pie tin), spread the apple mixture. Sprinkle the crumb topping as evenly as possible over the apples (you can form small balls and place them "strategically" to cover the top the way you want).
  5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then bake uncovered for another 20-25 minutes, until the apples are bubbly and top is golden.
  6. Serve plain or topped with coconut milk whipped cream (if you want to be 100% sugar-free - and dairy-free too) or some other ice cream or whipped topping.

NUTRITION FACTS



    1/6th of recipe    267 calories   17.6 g fat   26.1 g carbs    4.6 g protein    13.5 g sugar   

Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from The 21-Day Sugar Detox.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Brown Coconut Rice with Cilantro

I feel like one of the easiest side dishes for me to prepare with grilled chicken, fish, or pretty much anything is rice. We definitely eat our fair share of rice around here. :) But plain brown rice can get really boring, really fast and I feel like this coconut rice with cilantro is a nice way to mix it up. And it's so easy, the hardest part is remembering about an hour before dinner is getting it started. (Unless you use Trader Joe's 15 minute basmati brown rice... that stuff is genius and always comes in handy when I've lost track of time).

This dish has just a little hint of sweet, it's really not much, but it might surprise you that this is a sugar-free side dish. It's a great compliment to a spicy, savory entree.


Brown Coconut Rice with Cilantro
4 SERVINGS 
PREP: 5 minutes           COOK: 45 minutes            READY IN: 50 minutes


  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
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INGREDIENTS


  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice (I used long grain, but jasmine, basmati, or short grain would work too)
  • 1 1/4 cup lite coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro, diced

DIRECTIONS


  1. In a medium pot, or a rice cooker, combine rice, coconut milk water, garlic, and salt.
  2. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low-medium, cover and simmer until all the liquid evaporates, about 45 minutes. (Or let the rice cooker do its thing for about 45 minutes.)
  3. Remove from heat, leaving it covered for a few minutes. Fluff with a fork and toss in the cilantro.

NUTRITION FACTS



    1/2 cup serving    216 calories   5g fat   39.5g carbs    4.6g protein    0g sugar   

Enjoy!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Turkey, Apple and Brie Wrap


I was in need a quick lunch earlier this week and I wasn't in the mood for a plain sandwich, so I got the wheels in my head to turn a little. We still have brie in our fridge since it's our latest obsession, so naturally, I had to include it somehow. This little concoction was de---wait for it---lightful. De-lightful! (How I Met Your Mother reference...for those who aren't into that show :)) Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!!



Turkey, Apple and Brie Wrap
1 SERVINGS 
PREP: 5 minutes           COOK: 0 minutes            READY IN: 5 minutes


  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
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INGREDIENTS


  • 1 large spinach herb tortilla 
  • .6 oz brie
  • 3 oz. turkey breast
  • 6 slices apple (or more to your liking) 
  • small handful spinach

DIRECTIONS


  1. Slice brie up in to thin slices and lay on the center of your tortilla. 
  2. Core your apple and slice into thin pieces. Layer on top of brie. I used about 6 in my wrap, but feel free to pile it on to your liking! 
  3. Next layer on your meat and spinach, fold tortilla like a burrito and enjoy!

NUTRITION FACTS



    1 wrap   362 calories  11.4g fat  41.8g carbs   24.4g protein   3.9g sugar   

Enjoy!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Lemon-Raspberry Ricotta Parfait

In a need for a sweet snack that still allows those inches to fall off your waist line? This is it! Now, by the looks of the nutrition facts, it doesn't look all that good for you. But keep in mind that the sugar is coming from the honey, which is a natural sweetener, and also the fruit, so it's a lot better than granulated sugar.

I love the freshness of the raspberries, the sweetness of the honey and the tang of the lemon juice. I just cant say enough good things about this. Try it out in your next meal planning!



Lemon-Raspberry Ricotta Parfait
1 SERVING 
PREP: 5 minutes           COOK: 0 minutes            READY IN: 5 minutes

  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
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INGREDIENTS


  • 1/4 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon reduced sugar red raspberry preserves
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • zest from half lemon
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • sliced almonds for topping

DIRECTIONS


  1. In a small bowl mix together your ricotta and raspberry jam. 
  2. In a separate bowl mix your fresh (or thawed) raspberries with lemon juice, zest, and honey. 
  3. Top ricotta mixture with your raspberries. Top with sliced almonds for a little crunch. 

NUTRITION FACTS



   1 serving   323 calories  8.8g fat  56.1g carbs   10g protein   42.3g sugar   

Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Healthy Habits Challenge February: Eat Less Sugar, Part 3 - 15 Healthy Sugar-Free Snack Ideas

Welcome to week 3 of February's Healthy Habits Challenge to Eat Less Sugar! Hopefully by now you are committed to finding ways to reduce and eliminate too much sugar from your diet. I know from experience that snacks are what kill me when it comes to sugar cravings. You get to certain points of the day when you feel the urge for a snack, and it is all too easy to reach for something sweet. Often, for me, I find that I don't feel satisfied with my snack unless it was sweet. That has gotten better since I've done my sugar-free goal during the last two months. But, when I'm tired, stressed, bored, or other times that I've historically had a sweet treat (Friday nights watching a movie, for example) I still feel the pull of sugar, and it really helps to have some good snack alternatives to turn to.  I've pulled together a few of my favorite (and soon-to-be favorite) simple, sugar-free snacking options. You're bound to find some favorites here, too!


 Popcorn 

Popcorn is such a great snack food, and can be awesome for filling that sweet tooth craving if you make it with plenty of flavor. Savory popcorn seasonings are fantastic, or you can pretend to make it sweet with coconut oil, cinnamon, cocoa, or other flavors.

Oh yeah, and did you know you can microwave popcorn in a paper bag? Hello! The convenience of microwave popcorn without all the yucky chemicals ... my world has been transformed! It's a piece of cake, but here's a step-by-step to make sure you get it right!)

Here are some seasoned popcorn recipes and ideas to tempt your sweet tooth without reaching for sugar:

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10 Healthy Microwave Popcorn Recipes from The Yummy Life
http://cookieandkate.com/images/2012/02/spicy-chocolate-popcorn.jpg
Dark chocolate and chili powder - what a fantastic flavor combo! From Cookie+Kate.
This popcorn seasoning recipe is all natural and totally addictive. Everywhere we take it someone asks us for the recipe - so glad I made the mistake I did to come up with this best popcorn recipe!
A surprising spice blend that is bound to entertain your taste buds without any sugar involved! From Whole New Mom.

Roasted Nuts 

Nuts make a filling snack, and when you add in some extra flavors they can be a great sweet tooth saver. A simple and healthy way to roast your own nuts is to soak them for 8-10 hours in water, then drain and place them on a baking sheet. Let them sit in an oven set to 140-150º for another 8-10 hours (I know the hours add up, but it's 99.9% work-free time!). When they taste crispy you can pull them out and season them however you like! Just mix a half teaspoon of oil (to make the seasoning stick) along with your spices of choice with the nuts, and shake it all together in a jar or plastic bag.

Some of my favorites flavor combos these days are coconut oil with cinnamon, coconut oil with cocoa powder, and plain old olive oil with salt. Here are some more ideas to get you going:

Italian Rosemary Garlic Scented Nuts ~ Sumptuous Spoonfuls #spiced #nuts #holiday #gift #recipe
Italian Rosemary Garlic Spiced Nuts at Sumptuous Spoonfuls

Garam Masala Spiced Nuts at All Day I Dream About Food

Fruit Snacks ... (as in real fruit)

Fruit (not gummy fruit snacks ... high sugar there!) is obviously a great way to tame a sweet tooth, especially if your careful not to overdo it and choose fruits that are high fiber and low fructose (for more info on how much sugar is in different fruits, check out this post). Some great choices are apples with nut butter, berries with coconut milk, and grapefruit with shredded coconut. Here are some more amazing (real) fruit snacks to keep it interesting:
  • Toss diced apples with lemon juice and cinnamon. You'll have everyone around you asking where the smell of apple pie is coming from!
 
This fruity treat is sugar-free, but tastes nearly as good as real cheesecake! From Pass the Fresh.

I've been loving grapefruit lately - I can't wait to try it broiled as an extra-special treat! From Alisa Burke: Redefine Creativity.

Veggie Chips

We all know that eating veggies are good for us, but did you know that veggie chips are great for snacking if you have a sweet tooth? The roasting often brings out the natural sweetness in any vegetable. Sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, kale, cauliflower - you name it, it can probably be roasted into a great snack. Need some ideas? Here you go!
Sweet potatoes make my favorite veggie chips - here's one way to make them awesome from Pass the Fresh.

Squash, beets, parsnips, yuca - this blogger tried them all and rates how well they stand up! Can't wait to try the winner! From Girl Meets Bowl.

More great ideas and tips for baking veggie chips at Inspired to Share.

Dips and Sauces

And we all know that a good snack is made that much better when you can smother it in a great sauce or dunk it in an awesome dip. I always look for something that adds flavor and hopefully some protein, without adding in too much fat or sugar. Here are some great ideas that fit the bill perfectly:
If you haven't met tahini sauce, let me introduce you. Great on salads or with veggie snacks. This recipe is my go-to from Whole Living.

Clean Eating Winter Jicama Salsa
Of course, salsa! So many ways to combine fruits and veggies. Try this winter version with jicama from The Gracious Pantry.

And because I can't resist - one more of my personal favorites! Cranberry Salsa from Pass the Fresh.

Now that I've given you some of my favorites, I'd love to know ... What are your favorite healthy snacks when you get a sugar craving?

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

    Italian Crockpot Chicken

    You know those pins that have just  been sitting in your "recipe" board for months or even years? There they stay, looking delicious, but you still haven't tried them. Poor things.

    I periodically feel bad for those poor lonely pins. So I'll scroll through my board and pick out the ones I haven't tried yet. This Italian Crock pot Chicken is one of those. I've had it for years and always look at it and think "Man, that looks good!" but never do anything about it. The other day I did something about it.

    And boy am I glad! This crock pot recipe is perfectly simple and as yummy as it looks. It's a good way to spice up your chicken recipes - because if you're anything like me, you have only a few that get put on repeat. When I cooked this one I used frozen chicken, but if you get home from work and are in a hurry to make dinner - I'm sure thawed would work just fine as well.

    Italian Crockpot Chicken
    6 SERVINGS 
    PREP: 20 minutes           COOK: 6-8 hours minutes            READY IN: 6-8 hours 20 minutes


      SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
    pic name       pic name      pic name

    INGREDIENTS


    • 4 chicken breasts, frozen (for faster cooking, use thawed chicken breast.)
    • 16 oz. light Italian dressing
    • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
    • 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
    • 4-6 potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch pieces
    • 1 pound baby carrots

    DIRECTIONS


    1. Place chicken in bottom of crockpot. Pour half of the Italian dressing over chicken.
    2. Add Parmesan and seasoning.
    3. Pour potatoes and carrots on top. Add remaining Italian dressing.
    4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. (Time adjusted for thawed chicken is usually 3-4 hours)

    NUTRITION FACTS



        1 serving    557 calories   26.5 g fat   36 g carbs    43.4 g protein    8.9 g sugar   

    Enjoy!
    Recipe adapted from Crock-a-doodle-do

    Monday, February 17, 2014

    Skinny Shrimp Potato Chowder

    We have declared this a winter of soups at our house. Anyone else? It just feels so cold all the time and soup seems to bring that needed warmth and comfort. Funny thing is, we lived in Minnesota last winter, and this winter in Colorado should feel quite warm to us, but I guess it's easy to forget -40º weather and anytime the weather is subzero, it feels cold.

    This soup is very easy to make and it tastes wonderful! If you or your children aren't quite sure of shrimp, feel free to omit it, but I think it brings a nice texture and flavor to the soup.


    Skinny Shrimp Potato Chowder
    6 SERVINGS 
    PREP: 10 minutes           COOK: 75 minutes            READY IN: 85 minutes


      SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
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    INGREDIENTS


    • 6-8 potatoes, peeled and diced
    • 2 cups frozen corn
    • 12 ounce bag small pre-cooked shrimp
    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 1/4 cup green onion (use the white ends for the soup, and reserve the green ends for the toppings for the soup)
    • 3 cups skim milk
    • 2 tablespoons flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

    DIRECTIONS


    1. In a large pot, boil potatoes in water until cooked. Drain water.
    2. Add corn, shrimp, water, and white onions. Bring to a boil.
    3. Combine milk and flour in a separate container. Add to soup while stirring.
    4. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium/high and cook until it thickens. (It took about an hour for me).
    5. Add salt and pepper (to taste).
    6. Serve with toppings if you'd like. We like green onions and bacon. Cheese would be yummy too.

    NUTRITION FACTS



        1 serving    260 calories   .8g fat   49.8g carbs    15.5g protein    10.2g sugar   

    Enjoy!
    Recipe adapted from Food.com.

    Friday, February 14, 2014

    Strawberry and Brie Crostini

    Thanks to Costco samples my husband has been on a brie kick. It's been his go-to snack for the last 2 weeks. Now don't get me wrong, it's delicious - but crackers and brie every time can get kinda of boring. I decided to mix it up a little and make a fancy appetizer dish. You can pair brie with just about any fruit, but I loved this strawberry and basil combo. SOO good!


    Strawberry and Brie Crostini
    12 SERVINGS 
    PREP: 5 minutes           COOK: 5 minutes            READY IN: 10 minutes


      SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
    pic name       pic name      pic name

    INGREDIENTS


    • 1 loaf French baguette or other french bread, cut 1/2 inch thick (mine only made 12 slices)
    • 4 strawberries
    • Brie slices-2 per piece of bread
    • basil for garnish

    DIRECTIONS


    1. Turn oven on broil. 
    2. Cut loaf of bread into 12 diagonal pieces.  Brush with oil or butter. Place on a cooling rack, on top of cookie sheet and place in oven. Let bake for a few minutes until bread is browning. 
    3. While bread is still warm layer 2 slices of Brie on the bread, topped with strawberries. 
    4. Garnish with a dash of basil and enjoy! 

    NUTRITION FACTS



      1 slice   94  calories  0.6g fat  18.4g carbs   3.8g protein   1g sugar   

    Enjoy!

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

    Indulgence: Apple Strudel Ebelskivers

     We rarely do anything fancy for Valentines Day. I'm more of a show me you love me everyday kinda girl :) Lucky for my husband, it keeps my expectations low for the holiday. The first few years we were married we had a tradition of just making a nice dinner at home. With our Healthy Habits Challenge this month I'm thinking we'll revert back to that. It gives more control over not ordering the fat-filled yummy food at the restaurants. However, you have to have at least one treat for Valentine's day, right? Breakfast is the perfect meal to do so. Plus you have all day to burn it off ;) These are so simple and delicious, yet they look fancy enough to be from a restaurant! Try these for your sweetheart this Valentine's day! He'll love them so much, maybe he'll buy you something fancy as a thank you? Here's to hoping!!

    Apple Strudle Ebelskivers
    makes 21 ebelskivers 
    PREP: 20 minutes           COOK: 10 minutes            READY IN: 30 minutes

      SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
    pic name       pic name      pic name

    INGREDIENTS


    Batter
    • 3 large eggs, separated
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 2 cups buttermilk (or substitute with 2 cups milk with 1 teaspoon lemon juice added)
    • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
    Filling
    • 2 Granny Smith apples
    • 4 tablespoons butter (I never said these were healthy ;)) 
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

    DIRECTIONS


    1. Prepare your filling. Peel and core your apples. Finely dice. 
    2. In a skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, salt and apples. Cook on low heat until apples are soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside when done. 
    3. While apples are cooking, prepare your batter. 
    4. With your separated eggs, beat the yolks with sugar and salt in a large bowl. 
    5. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and baking soda. 
    6. Add dry ingredients to your egg yolk mixture. Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk (or substitute mixture) until everything is well incorporated. 
    7. Take your egg whites and beat with a hand mixture until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter with a spatula. 
    8. Heat your ebelskiver pan over low to medium heat. 
    9. Brush pan with a little melted butter. To each well add 1 tablespoon batter, followed by 1 teaspoon of apple filling in the center with 1 teaspoon batter on top to seal it off. 
    10. Let it cook for about 3 minutes. Turn ebelsikver using a wooden chopstick or skewer and cook for another 2-3 minutes until both sides are browned. 
    11. Repeat steps 9 and 10 until all the batter and filling is used. 
    12. Serve warm with syrup, cool whip or apples. 

    NUTRITION FACTS



       1 ebelskiver   122 calories  5.4g fat  15.7g carbs   2.9g protein   5.9g sugar   

    Enjoy!
    Recipe adapted from The Great Breakfast Book

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