Thursday, February 7, 2013

Brown Butter Quinoa Bars

Pinterest has done it to me again! I really waste too much time browsing and pinning and never actually using what I have pinned.  However, this recipe intrigued me enough that I actually took action so let's get right to the point.

No bake. Browned butter. Game changer.

The taste of browned butter is amazing. It is hard to describe but it is sweet.
If you have never browned butter before don't be afraid. It is really quite simple. Put it on the stove in a pan and turn the heat up to medium. Stir it frequently and just don't leave. You will start to see little brown specks at the bottom of the pan, then a few more, and a few more. Take it off the heat a little before what it looks like in the last picture. It will still brown slightly off the heat. Let it cool.

While the butter is cooling add oatmeal, flax, ground almonds, and cooked quinoa to a bowl and give them a good stir.

The only other things you need are some honey, vanilla, and.........

Delicious dark chocolate chips!

Add the honey, vanilla, browned butter, and chocolate chips to your dry mixture and stir well. You may need to add a little more honey if it looks to dry.

Press the mixture firmly into a pan. I used this one that I believe is 9x7 but an 8x8 would work well too. Use the back of your hand and really press down hard. Because these are no bake you need the mixture good and firm. Put the pan in the fridge for a couple hours to set them. The longer you leave them in the fridge the easier they will be to cut. When I get too anxious they end up just being a crumbled mess that is more like granola than a bar. While that would be good too, do try to be patient.

After your have waited patiently you can then cut into these little pieces of heaven. Miles and I could seriously sit and eat the pan in one sitting if no one would know or if I wouldn't suffer from guilt or weight gain!

These really are so simple you must give them a try. I have tried a few other Pinterest recipes that have been not so hot but this has turned out to be one of our very favorite snacks and I love the ingredient list!

 Here is the link to the recipe that I found on this blog How Sweet It Is through my endless hours of Pinteresting. Guess what? I didn't change anything! If you want a little more detailed instructions go over there. Her bars seem to hold together very nicely.

No-Bake Brown Butter Quinoa Bars
1 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup cooked quinoa (cool it off)
1 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup unsalted brown butter (allow to cool slightly)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Add butter to pan and cook over medium heat stirring frequently until it begins to brown. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. In a large bowl add oats, quinoa, almonds, flaxseed, and salt and stir well. Add honey, browned butter, and vanilla and stir well. Fold in the chocolate chips. Press the mixture firmly into a pan (8x8, 9x9, 9x7 will all work) and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cut into bars and enjoy.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Carmalized Onion Tartlets and Other Super Bowl Food

Looking for a few Super Bowl Food ideas??????

I made these for small group and the hubster said, "I wouldn't mind having those for some game day food." I received the hint and promised to make them for him.

They are fairly healthy and pretty easy.

Simple Instructions
1. Get some puff pastry dough from the frozen section of the grocery store.
2. Unroll square of pastry dough and use a circular cutter to make rounds.
3. Make them big enough to put one slice of a Roma tomato on them. (The instructions I followed said to use a 1 1/2 inch cutter and that was not big enough! Save yourself some time and just make them bigger.)
4. Put them in the fridge and caramelize 2 large yellow onions with 4 garlic cloves in a bit of olive oil for about 15 minutes. Slice your tomatoes while they cook.
5. Take pastry out of fridge and brush with egg wash.
6. Top with a bit of fresh Parmesan cheese, the caramelized onion, tomato round, fresh basil and feta or goat cheese.
7. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

For more detailed instructions and a few more ingredients visit Mini Baker where I found this recipe.

As for what else I am making it may or may not include a few of the following:

Of course I will make the sweet potato fries to go with this dip.

Miles would love for me to make these again I am sure.

Chilled then sliced into pinwheels would be good for this wrap. Everyone likes to eat mini food like I always say.

Perhaps I should make it really easy and just pick up a bag of these. Everyone in our family really LOVES these large sprouted grain pretzels.

Pinned Image
It would be really easy to do something like this. Miles and I would love it but the kids probably not so much. (saw this on Pinterest)

Of course I won't forget the veggies! This helps me feel a bit better about some of the junk we tend to consume on a day like Super Bowl Sunday. Plus if I put the veggies in my mouth first I fill up quicker and can't consume as much of the other food.

Evan would love for me to make these again. Cheesecake is his favorite dessert.

I found this recipe on Pinterest and would love to try it!

homemade reeses eggs
These also look heavenly and were found on Pinterest.

If you would still like more ideas here is a link also found on that glorious site, Pinterest, that will lead you to a ton of GREAT and pretty healthy appetizer ideas.
Pinned Image

Enjoy the weekend everyone and the big game. All I really care about are the funny commercials and the fun food. Although all the inappropriate commercials frustrate me enough that the day is coming when I probably won't watch at all. I have a 12 year old boys mind, eyes, and ears to protect and I don't need any wardrobe malfunctions if you catch my drift!

I do love the fact that the two teams playing means two brothers will be coaching their teams to victory against each other. I don't envy their parents!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pumpkin Donuts

I made these donuts in October people. Then I made them again on a very snowy day in December when church was even cancelled the weather was so bad. But I still haven't blogged about them. It is sad really that I haven't shared their yummy goodness with you all.

I know the Superbowl is Sunday and I should be sharing all kinds of appetizer foods with you, and I will hopefully get to a few in the next few days, but don't discount these as a healthy snack option for the big day. You know my theory about foods in mini form. You make them mini, people eat them ALL GONE!

I actually tried three different recipes and that is part of my delay in sharing as well as my continued computer issues so I am just going to share the process rather than the ingredient pictures and give you two of the recipes.

This is basically a mix all your dry ingredients then mix all your wet ingredients and combine the two kind of recipe. You want your batter consistency to be like this. Not too thick but not too thin either.

I actually had my friend hunt me down the mini donut pan but you can buy a regular size donut pan at Target. Put your batter in a Ziploc bag or in a pastry bag and pipe it into the pan. Trust me. You can't skip that part. 

It takes a little time to get it into the bag but then you can zip through the piping part really quickly. Especially since you will need to do this 2-3 times. I got 36 donuts the third time I made them.

They puff up so beautifully! Now you have a couple choices. Glaze or butter?

The first time I made an apple cider glaze and brushed it on the donuts.

The second time I used butter. The butter was easier and I liked it better surprisingly.

Either way you will want to put the warm donuts on a cooling rack and brush them with your "sticky substance." I found working in groups of three worked well.

For the glazed ones I simply dusted the tops with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Yes I used real sugar. It ends up being such a small amount and I had already cleaned up the donuts and in this case there is no substitute really for that texture.

The glazed donuts did tend to soak up the cinnamon and sugar but it didn't affect the taste of them one little bit!

Looking at this picture sure makes me wish I had some donuts right now.

When I made the second batch I brushed them with butter and then dropped them into a large Ziploc bag filled with the cinnamon and sugar mixture to coat them all over. The kids preferred them this way and it would be a great job for them to help with. Mine happened to be out playing in the nearly 2 feet of snow we got that day so they were no help but this was a very easy method.

Don't they look like they need to come in and warm up with hot chocolate and some warm, fresh, donuts????? Glad that snow is mostly gone!

I don't know about you but I wouldn't mind having a few of these while I pretend to watch the game on Sunday.

So here is the scoop on the recipes. The first one I tried was the one that actually came on the package of the donut pan. The second one was a gluten free recipe for my friend who needs it to be that way, and the third time I just found a recipe online that I tweaked. The jury came back with a verdict. The gluten free ones happened to be our favorite! I used this recipe Edible Perspective's Gluten Free Pumpkin Donuts. I did use her substitute suggestion for the coconut flour and I did not try her glaze. They were excellent donuts and she happens to be a donut expert. She is writing a gluten free donut cookbook. I will be trying some of her other donut recipes soon too.

If you don't want to make them gluten free then here is the third recipe I tried. It was our second favorite and it was easier so I don't feel a need to share the actual recipe that came with the pan.

If you wish to make some kind of apple cider glaze just mix 1 cup cider, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and 2 tbsp. butter in a pan and heat until thick.

Cinnamon and Sugar Donuts
Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup whole-wheat flour
½ cup sweet rice flour or oat flour
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup Stevia
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup low-fat buttermilk
2 large eggs
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Cinnamon and Sugar (about ½ cup sugar and 3-4 Tbsp. of cinnamon)


 1. Preheat oven to 425° or large donuts or 400 for mini donuts. Lightly coat a donut pan with cooking spray.
2. Combine flours and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
3. Combine buttermilk, eggs, honey, butter, and vanilla, stirring well with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture; whisk just until combined.
4. Spoon batter into doughnut pans or pipe in using pastry bag. Bake in middle of oven until doughnuts spring back when touched and are golden on bottom (about 8 minutes for large or 6-7 minutes for mini). Let cool in pan slightly. Working in groups of 3 for mini doughnuts, brush with melted butter on both sides and place in Ziploc bag of cinnamon and sugar. Shake to coat.

While still warm, toss doughnuts into Ziploc bag of prepared cinnamon and sugar; let cool on rack, sugar-coated side up.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Italian Meatballs

Do you need something quick for dinner? I think it seems like I always do but I know you have heard me say many times before that eating healthy isn't always that quick! I think that is one of the main hangups for families who have two working parents. I know when we get really busy our diet gets much less thought and even though I only work part time I do understand the dilemma.

I worked on this problem the other night.I grabbed these at the store that morning for a quick dinner that evening since I knew life was going to be busy the rest of the day.
 I will say that these will be an occasional food for us for a couple reasons. First they are a processed food. We try to stay away from as much processed food as we can. Second they have some ingredients I don't like such as hydrolyzed protein, caramel color, and modified food starch. So you might be wondering why I bothered at all. CONVENIENCE and LACK OF SCHWAN"S MAN. I love the turkey and spinach ones the Schwans man brings me and their ingredient list is excellent but they do also cost almost twice as much. Sadly my freezer was void of the better brand. 
Jennie-O should take notice of their competition!

 You need to grab a jar/can of your favorite low sugar pasta sauce. I like this one but the one I actually used was just a jar of the Walmart plain pasta sauce brand and for some reason I didn't take a picture of it. I would suggest you make your own for health reasons but we are talking about something fast for dinner.
 I just dumped the whole bag of meatballs into the skillet with a bit of cooking spray to get them started for a few minutes and then dumped my pasta sauce over them. I gave them about 12-15 minutes to get good and hot and seasoned with all that tomato goodness.
 Then a few minutes before I was ready to serve them I topped them with fresh mozzarella and let it melt as I stirred it around carefully. You could use shredded mozzarella as well.
 They were so tasty and worked for our strict phase one eating with a salad on the side. Both of my kids LOVED them. That is with a capital L loved them! It doesn't take much time to even get this stuff out and you can make your salad while the meatballs cook. Dinner on the table in 20 minutes is a winner to me and I only had to dirty up one pan and you know how much I adore one pan cooking.

So I hope you enjoy all you busy working people!

Italian Meatballs
1 bag of fully cooked meatballs
1 large jar pasta sauce (about 24oz.)
fresh mozzarella cheese (probably close to 8 oz.)

Add meatballs to skillet sprayed generously with cooking spray. Allow meatballs to heat for about 3 minutes as you turn them gently to prevent scorching one side. Pour pasta sauce over the meatballs and simmer for 12-15 minutes. Top with mozzarella a few minutes before serving and allow to melt as you gently stir. Serve immediately.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Homemade Guacamole

Guacamole is at the top of my list of favorites! I think it might be possible I have too many favorites....hmmm....problems!  Homemade guacamole is so easy to make and it is better for you than buying it premade or buying the package of seasoning since those things can have added naughtiness you don't need!

In the last couple years I have really come to love having guacamole as a burger topping, especially when we are eating strict and not having a bun for our burgers. Usually we stick to turkey or veggie burgers but I picked up some of these chicken burgers at Trader Joe's when we were there last weekend.

The ingredient list is not too shabby for these chicken burgers. Ground chicken, onions, bell peppers, garlic, cilantro, natural flavor, salt, lime juice concentrate, and red pepper flakes. I just heated them up in a skillet and they tasted great. You can also broil them or grill them. One burger is only 150 calories!

So let's get down to business. You need to ripe avocados.

Scoop out the avocado into a bowl.

Mash that yummy goodness up with a fork. I like my guacamole a bit on the chunky side but if you prefer it really smooth then go ahead and break out a small food processor.

 To help with not only the flavor but to keep it from browning to quickly.

 Okay so I have played around with the seasoning a lot people! I have added a little of this and that, made it spicier sometimes with cayenne pepper or Franks, tried adding onion powder, pepper, salsa, regular salt, tomatoes, etc. and these are my final four. We all have preferences of course so choose what you like best but I even measured this out last time, which is painful for me you know, so I could give exact quantities for those of you who really need that. Do you feel the love????

 So add your seasonings to the bowl and give it a good mix. 

 Add a couple big spoonfuls to your burger and enjoy! I promise you will not miss the bun! We had fresh veggies and hummus on the side this week since we are eating to lose weight right now but we also love to serve this kind of thing with sweet potato fries! 

Just a little tip. I am sure you have all heard to place the pit of your avocado in with your guacamole to keep it from browning. I have tried this many times and I don't think it really works that well. The lime juice definitely helps. Not having too ripe of avocados certainly helps. But I think the easiest thing is to just smooth out your guacamole nice and flat as best as you can in whatever dish you are using. Then when you are ready to use it just scrap that very thin layer off the top and you will have nice green guac underneath.

Homemade Guacamole
2 ripe avocados
juice of one lime
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder

Directions: Mash avocado in a small bowl with a fork. Add lime juice and seasonings. Mix well. Serve immediately or let sit in fridge for 30 minutes for flavors to blend.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

It's Januay. Reality Bites.

Well hello everyone. It is January and I am tired of seeing the Thanksgiving menu on my blog. It is about time I get back at this. I have taken some unintentional time off from blogging. The busyness of the holidays stole some of my blogging time. Swimming lessons for Faith every Tuesday and Thursday evening for that month stole much of my cooking time and my husband had the nerve to upgrade his computer which meant I got his old Mac stealing just precious time trying to figure it all out! One would think I would be happy about having a new and great computer. I am sometimes. The problem is that Mac doesn't have Irfanview, which is the program I have used to resize and fix my photos for the blog, and my husband still needs to give me a tutorial on iphoto. I am resistant to change when it comes to technology. So what's a girl to do???? Break out the old computer that's what!

I discovered something while not blogging. It isn't good for me. Actually having the need to cook, search for healthy recipes, take pictures, and post about it is great accountability. We have been very much slacking around here and it is time to knock that off and get serious. Christmas fudge is such a weakness for me along with molasses cookies. Yikes! So the reality is I have about 5 pounds to lose and Miles a little more than that so it means phase one kind of eating.

When we eat strict I have found it difficult to blog about it in the past because it seems a little boring and too simple to share on the blog. But isn't January the time when we all tend to think about our diet and focus on eating healthier? So I thought our honesty about needing to lose weight and showing you what that looks like for us might be helpful for some of you who also ate a little too much Christmas fudge.

So for starters eating strict and losing the weight for us means giving up all carbs for two weeks, even the healthy complex ones like these favorites we usually enjoy on a regular basis. It is difficult at first, especially if you are still a white bread eater, but it is only two weeks of your life after all and losing 8-20 pounds in that time will be worth it! (Don't misunderstand- you will add these things back in slowly to your diet but never go back to simple carbs like white bread. This is a lifestyle change not a diet!)

And sadly it also means giving up all fruit for two weeks. You might find this odd since fruit is absolutely healthy for you, but the reason is that it contains too much natural sugar for you to get over your sugar addiction. Trust me when I say that after two weeks of eating like this an apple never tasted so good! Your taste buds will be fixed and able to really sense how sweet a piece of fruit is.

And of course it means giving up all sugar! Even in its healthier forms like sucanat, agave, honey, or molasses. You can have all natural zero calorie sweeteners like Stevia however which is very helpful!

Let me give you a fair warning that sugar hides in all kinds of things!!!!! It is in ketchup and salad dressings, tomato sauces, marinades, coffee creamer, yogurt even Greek yogurt and today's average consumer isn't necessarily label savvy. If you are trying to lose weight you need to be very careful about label reading! During strict phase for us we try our best to not consume any sugar but when it comes to certain things like salad dressing it can be very difficult. Stick to 2 grams or less per serving if you can or just make it yourself!

These things are not difficult at all for Miles and I to give up anymore because we are giving up way less than the average bear the second time around. We don't love giving them up but it isn't so bad for the short term to get back on track and to stop having those cravings and the reward of weight gone and feeling good makes it worth it!

So what do we eat during strict phase....................COLORFUL FOOD!

We eat tons of greens in all different varieties like spinach, kale, romaine, mixed greens, collar greens. You name it we probably eat it and usually for lunch during our strict two weeks.

We also eat lots of raw veggies and hummus at lunch time or as our second veggie at dinner time.

 Since we eat so much salad every day for lunch we like to change it up. We are definite Greek salad lovers but having a little salsa and black beans with avocado, reduced fat pepper jack and light sour cream sure is delicious as well. We go with an Asian salad occasionally as well.

 We love peppers cooked with some olive oil and diced up chicken sausage as well or we make chicken fajitas without the tortillas and it feels like a good indulgence.

Peppers stuffed with ground turkey cooked in a no sugar added tomato sauce is excellent for phase one eating and doesn't make me feel deprived at all!
I like to dress up the veggies since we eat so many during this phase. My favorite is green beans cooked in a little balsamic with red onion and sliced almonds.

Grilled veggies are my favorite but we live in Minnesota and this time of year I am asking a SUPER big favor of my hubby if I want them grilled so a little olive oil, balsamic, and some salt free garlic and herb seasoning taste delicious cooked in a skillet on the stove.
 We eat all those veggies along with lean meats like turkey and chicken and we like to have chicken sausage quite often. These chicken sausage only have 100-110 calories per serving and they are great on salad or with peppers and onions.
This was a grilled summer time meal but we like to eat turkey  or veggie burgers without the bun often for a good lunch or dinner during phase one. Those are veggie chips on my plate but they too are a no no during strict phase! They hail from Trader Joe's and are my favorite chips!
 I also love to make a big pot of soup during phase one loaded with veggies, lots of tomatoes, and sometimes beans or chick peas.

For breakfast we eat eggs, egg beaters, or egg whites every morning for two weeks. It gets old so we change those up too. Egg cups one morning, a Greek fritatta another morning, diced ham and mozzarella another or just an omelet with onions and peppers another morning. Day 15 when you can have steel cut oats with some fruit is really something to look forward to after all those eggs! I do like eggs though!

 You will get hungry at first when you are eating less and eating better because your body will actually use all that food up since it is filled with nutrition! So we have a few snacks to eat during this phase. Nuts are my favorite. I love soy nuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, etc. I love them all. You do have to be careful to not consume too many since they are so high in calories though.
 We love to snack on cheeses and these laughing cow spreadable cheeses are great in a stick of celery or spread on a large piece of lettuce with some all natural lunch meat for a lettuce wrap.
I hate the commercial for mini Babybel but I love the cheese. You can take these with you too since they come in a wax protector. Make sure you get the lighter version though.

So those are the basics of our lose weight mode. There are definitely more details to it but I am already reminded of why I needed that new computer and I can't go into any more detail without breaking something in frustration!

I am no doctor of course and so you should remember that you should consult with a doctor about your specific needs. Let me also just say that I know there are a ton of differing opinions about the healthiest way to eat. I honestly believe that a vegan diet is probably the best thing you can do for your body but I can't handle living without cheese!!!! Meat I could probably live without but Greek yogurt and feta cheese are at the very top of my favorite food list. However, I have had some success in the managing your weight department and for the most part have kept my weight off for nearly three years! If my brain wasn't so science illiterate I would go back to school and get a degree in nutrition because I do so enjoy talking about this and helping others and I love to cook!

So for what it's worth I hope this post might help you out a little or inspire you to get on board the New Year's Resolution train and clean up your diet and get healthy. I would love to help you out or take you to the grocery store and make you hate me when I tell you all the things you can't buy anymore! Or meet you at the gym for a little exercise accountability!

P.S. I discovered the hole in time at the gym. It is January you know so the gym is super crowded. But if you get there about 7:45 the first crowd has cleared and you've beat all the moms who have to wait to take their kids to school. When I walked upstairs today every machine was empty. I almost took a picture!