Banana Bread Quinoa

IMG_3239 IMG_3234This could not be easier, all ingredients go right in the Crockpot! It comes out tasting like a bowl of oatmeal and a loaf of banana bread had a baby! It is packed with protein and is so yummy! You have to try it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup of light cream
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1.5 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1/8 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • Fresh Banana, honey, and cinnamon(to garnish)

Directions:

Mash bananas in crockpot. Add all other ingredients (except garnish ingredients) and whisk to mix. Cover and cook on low for 3.5 hours. Garnish with a few slices of fresh banana, a drizzle of 1 tsp of local honey, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Enjoy!!

This recipe makes about seven 1/2 cup servings. Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 6 points

*This recipe was inspired by nutritionfor.us.

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Healthier Hot Chocolate, from scratch

downloadIngredients:

  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1.5 tbsp of really good cocoa powder (i like this one)
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of whipped cream or 1/3 cup of mini marshmallows on top (optional, each option are 2 pts+)

Directions:

Put milk and almond milk on the stove and heat until almost boiling. Mix in agave and powder ingredients with a whisk. Pour into a pretty mug and top with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Make your own whipped cream or marshmallows for the most whole product!

Farmer’s markets, specialty stores, and other fun places will sell gourmet cocoa powders or vanilla extracts! These special touches make for an even more fun experience and product! Enjoy!

This is a healthier version of a homemade hot chocolate but it is still a “treat”. The agave will help prevent that sugar crash and the almond milk packs a nice protein punch! And of course, use a really good dark chocolate with antioxidants!

This recipe makes 1 cups of hot chocolate. Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 6 points

Quinoa Lauren

photo-2Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1/2 cup of feta
  • 1 medium zucchini, steamed
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Start by bringing 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water to a boil without lid. Once vigorously boiling reduce heat to medium-low and put lid on for 15 minutes. Fluff with fork. While quinoa is cooking, cut up your steamed zucchini (to steam, I use a steamer basket), tomatoes, and basil. Rinse garbanzo beans. Mix them all together along with the other ingredients and enjoy!!

This recipe makes about 6 cups of salad. Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 6 points for each salad!

One cup has 10 grams of protein!  Pair with a fruit salad or yogurt and a piece of dark chocolate for an awesome lunch!

Asparagus and Pesto Salad with Shrimp and Goat Cheese

downloadIngredients:

  • 1 bundle of asparagus (cut bottoms off of each spear)
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes
  • 5 ounce pack of spring mix lettuce
  • Buitoni pesto (will need 1/4 cup for 4 servings)
  • Crumbled Goat Cheese (will need 1/2 cup for 4 servings)
  • 24 Frozen Shrimp
  • Red Wine vinegar (will need 1/4 cup for 4 servings)
  • Salt, Pepper, and Garlic Powder

Directions

First wisk 1/4 cup of pesto into 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar to make your dressing.

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Use steamer basket to steam the asparagus, with a sprinkle of garlic powder on them. In a separate pot, boil 24 shrimp per package directions. You can salt the water or boil them in broth for a little more flavor if you wish.

Pile the spring mix into 4 bowls (divide the 5 oz package into 4 bowls). Top with asparagus, shrimp, tomatoes, and goat cheese (1/8 cup per serving). Pour dressing over the salads, add salt and pepper (as much or as little as you like) and enjoy!

This recipe makes about 4 salads. Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 4 points for each salad!

Each salad has about 21g of protein, healthy fats, and veg! Serve with some fruit or a small yogurt for lunch or have this as an appetizer for dinner! I hope you try it and love it!

Banana “Ice Cream” & Granola Mug

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Ingredients:

You are going to need a Yonanas machine (I know some people use blenders or food processors to make these whips but the Yonanas machine is specifically made to make them).

When you have 3 or 4 bananas that are overripe at the end of the week, DO NOT throw them away! Cut them in half and freeze them for this recipe, smoothies, or anything else!

To make the “ice cream”, you simply place your favorite coffee mug under the machine’s spout, put your frozen banana in the top and and use the plunger to push the banana through the machine! They will come out with a very similar consistency to ice cream. You can also visit the Yonanas site to see how it works with photos and videos!

I like mine a few ways: with mini chocolate chips, with sliced almonds and a drizzle of good caramel sauce, or with granola!

This recipe makes one mugful of “ice cream”. With the 1/3 cup of Banana Sunbelt Granola: Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 3 points

I consider this a special weekend treat because you have to have the bananas ready to go, need to wash the machine after you are done (which can take a little extra time than your normal breakfast clean up), and because even though it is only technically 3 points, there are 2 bananas in this which are high in sugar (even though its the best kind of sugar, in its most natural form).

*The machine is dishwasher safe, so you better believe mine is going in there!

Overall this is super healthy and incredibly delicious!! Let me know what you think of it!

Feta Bruschetta

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup of feta cheese
  • 2 tbs of good seasons italian dressing
  • 8 basil leaves, cut into very thin strips
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 slices of wheat bread (from the bakery)

Directions:

Place 4 slices of wheat bread in toaster. While the bread is toasting, combine first five ingredients. Pile the mixture on top of the toasted bread and enjoy!

Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 4 points for 1 bruschetta topped slice of toast

This balanced snack is packed with whole grains, protein from the feta, and lycopene from the tomatoes! The basil makes these taste so fresh and delicious!!

2 Great Salads, 4 Points each!

These 2 easy salads have 3 of the same ingredients and 3 different ingredients; this makes for little waste, easier shopping, and easier points tracking!

The 3 constant ingredients in the salads are Organic Baby Spinach leaves (1 cup), Crumbled Feta (1.5 tbsp), and Honey Roasted Almond Slices (1 tbsp). CLICK HERE FOR COUPON FOR ALMOND ACCENTS!

5244d746-d64b-4b46-81fd-ff508d6e2b65wallpaper*Collage by Photovisi

Salad #1: Honey Balsamic Watermelon Salad

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To make this salad, place the 3 constant ingredients (listed above) into the bowl. Add 1/2 cup of sliced tomato, 1/2 cup of cubed watermelon, and 2 tbsp of Ken’s Honey Balsamic Dressing!

Salad #2: Sesame Ginger Mandarin Orange Salad

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To make this salad, place the 3 constant ingredients (listed above) into the bowl. Add cucumber slices (about 1/4 cup), 1/4 cup of drained mandarin oranges, and 2 tbsp of Newman’s Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing!

Weight Watchers Points Plus 2012: 4 points for each salad!!

Enjoy a whole wheat roll and fresh baked cookie alongside of one of these salads to make a great lunch! Wash it down with my Blueberry-Lemon Iced Tea!

The spinach is packed with antioxidants and the protein provided by the almonds and feta will help these salads keep you full until dinner!

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Crock Pot Sweet Potatoes

The very best way to cook sweet potatoes, in my experience, is in the crock pot! They come out PERFECT every single time! This is easiest way to get the best outcome with the least prep time!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 or 3 sweet potatoes (similar in size, about 5″ is great for a single person)
  • 1/4 cup of water

Directions:

Pour the 1/4 cup of water into the crock pot, the temperature of the water doesn’t matter. Clean the outside of the potatoes off with warm water; you can use a vegetable brush if you have one but I just do the best I can with my hands. Place the potatoes in the pot, cover, and cook on high for 4 hours.

Serve with a little butter, salt, and pepper or gravy! Delicious.

I also really like to put these into a salad, especially with a red wine vinegar dressing! (see photo above)

The water and the heat steam the potatoes; when they come out they are so soft!

If nutients were money, sweet potatoes would be considered the Oprahs, Bill Gates’, and Beyonces of the vegetables. They are full of fiber, potassium and a variety of vitamins. This article discusses the benefits of sweet potatoes in even more detail, if you are interested!

Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 4 Points for 5″ potato with 1/2 tbsp of butter spread (I like Smart Balance Butter & Canola and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Blend), salt and pepper.

*I have only ever used this technique to cook 2-3 potatoes at a time so if you were looking to make more, I would be lying if I told you it works, or not. I don’t think it could hurt to try…if you do, let me know how it goes…

 
Enjoy!!

Healthy Relationship with Food–5 Concepts

Over the last 5-7 years I have accumulated many concepts, theories, ideas, and tips about having a healthy relationship with food. I have tried different techniques and my weight has fluctuated throughout these years. I spent about 6 months of this time practicing veganism, have loosely followed Weight Watchers, have made countless trips to many different health food stores all over the tri-state area, and have read hundreds of articles and books on this topic. Food is a big part of my life so I am thrilled to say that I think I have finally developed a healthy relationship with my diet.

I started to write a very detailed post about this and realized that I would need to publish my own book in order to fully explain everything in detail, so… I revamped my plan for the post and decided to share with you my 5 top concepts (along with brief details about each) and my favorite book about food! Many of this author’s beliefs run parallel to my beliefs on this topic, so I wanted to share this excellent source of reference with all my readers!

I am not claiming that these concepts are going to help you lose weight; they are merely theories that help me maintain my healthy relationship with food. They work for me so I wanted to share them with you…

Concept #1: Do the best you can with what you have

In my euphoria, I would have a Whole Foods Market down the street from my home and all the prices would be within my budget. I would walk through the store putting all the healthiest of foods into my cart from all the food groups! This is not reality for me…

My reality is that the closest Whole Foods Market is 1.25 hours away and I have a budget of $100-$125 per week to spend on groceries. Should I exceed that budget, other parts of balanced life are disturbed in ways I can’t afford so I have to do the best I can with what I have. I visit Shop Rite once per week with a planned schedule of meals. I look at all of the products on the shelves, in each section of the market, and choose the most “whole” product I can afford. (whole: least processed, least unnecessary ingredients, most organic) I use the dirty dozen rule for produce and to buy the products we consume most in their organic variety.

Everyone’s budget is different and some people will say “health is worth the extra money.” I have considered this when creating my budget and I agree that health is very important but balance has to rule over all in my world. Doing the best you can has to be enough.

Concept #2: Be real and honest with yourself

Eating highly processed, sugary candy is not a healthy choice but let’s be real…every time, for the rest of your life, when someone offers you a handful of M & M’s, you are not going to say “no.” If someone in the morning offers you a handful of M & M’s and you say “yes”, then later in the evening, when your neighbor brings over a huge slice of leftover birthday cake, you should at least consider putting it in a pyrex and sharing it with your husband the next day.

If you eat the M & M’s (or even the M & M’s AND the cake, because let’s be real, this stuff happens), don’t lie to yourself that this was healthy or that you didn’t eat them. Take responsibility for your decision and make your next decision based on what you have learned. Say to yourself, “tomorrow I will try to practice a little more discipline.”

Your relationship with food is just like any other relationship in your life, it is not perfect and honesty is a MUST. Apologize for small mistakes, try REALLY hard not to repeat the big mistakes (eating an entire bag of chips in one sitting), and continue in your relationship with no regrets.

Concept #3: Do not monitor what you eat on a holiday

On the day of the holiday, I think you should shove your face with whatever it is you want to shove it with. This is when the “life’s too short” philosophy comes into play. You can’t say “life’s too short” every day or you would be unhealthy but there are few enough holidays in the year that you should be able to fully indulge on those few days. I think that these are the happiest days of the whole year and on these days I don’t want to be in a fight with food; I want to be on great terms within my relationship with food on the holidays.

The hard part comes on the days surrounding the holiday… Examples: The day after Halloween, you can’t eat your kid’s candy all day and the day after Thanksgiving, the leftovers need to be portioned like you would portion on any normal day.

Deal?

Concept #4: Cook and prepare food in your home as much as possible

Cooking is like playtime with food. It is your time to bond and be intimate. Not everyone likes cooking/prepping but it is crucial for a healthy food relationship. (see my subtle metaphor?) Cooking your own meals and packing your own lunches are the only ways to know exactly what you are eating. Cooking, to me, means preparing anything from a salad to a full course meal like Thanksgiving dinner. I consider rinsing the grapes in a colander and putting them into containers for the week a part of my food prep/cooking on Sunday’s when I get home from the market.

Baking is nice too, once in a while; if you make a batch of 24 cupcakes, you better eat at least one but share many. Bring some to your neighbors or to work.

Cooking dinner and eating in your home, as a family, is a good thing to do. Packing balanced lunches for your kids, your husband or wife, yourself, and other household members, is a good thing to do too. It will make you all healthy, happy, and proud thus enhancing all of your relationships with food.

Concept #5: Record your meals/servings

I like to use Weight Watcher’s PointsPlus system to keep from overeating or eating too much of the wrong type of foods.

*More info on WW: Basically, each food has a PointsPlus value that is calculated depending on the amount of protein, fat, carb, and fiber that is in the item. The higher the protein and fiber content, the lower the points but the higher the carb and fat content, the higher the points. You are not to avoid fat or carbs all together but your choices should reflect the concept of consuming each type of food in moderation. Depending on your size, you are designated a correlated points allowance. If you are specifically interested in this program I suggest you register for the minimum amount of time (online) and learn about the program/how you specifically fit into the program. You can always cancel your membership once you feel like you have obtained some knowledge and can move forward on your own. If staying in the program works for you, thats great too! You can utilize the techniques whether or not you are enrolled. WW TIP: You can Google “WW Points Plus calculator” right on your smartphone if you don’t have your WW calculator on hand.

I try to plan my day’s worth of points in the morning, leaving a few points in case of an unanticipated food offering or opportunity (like the M & M incident detailed above). I like to write down my meals, the approximate points, and the number of servings of each food group in the meal to keep a balance. I try to keep up with this, especially after I have a few days of getting “carried away” (a few days in a row of not using great discipline). *Exception: I don’t record on holidays.

If you are uninterested in using Weight Watchers that is okay too; WW is just my preference. Whatever you come up with to help you with self control and portion control will do the same for you as this concept does for me.

And now, onto my favorite food book…drum roll please…

Food Rules by Michael Pollan

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The link above is to Michael Pollan’s website. If you are interested in his point of view, you should read some of the articles on this site too. This book is an incredible reference for when you are feeling frustrated with all the food buzz on the news and in the media. It helps you get back to basics! He actually just came out with a cookbook too. To purchase “Food Rules”, click here and to purchase his new cookbook called “Cooked”, click here.

Yay, I am so excited to have this all in writing for you!! Please comment with any questions or thoughts and try some of my recipes!