Monday, December 30, 2013

Snowman Melts

These little guys are sure to be a fabulous New Year's Party Treat.
They are super easy, cute, and delicious! 

2 Oreo packages
1 package of Almond Bark
2 packages of Cream Cheese

Step 1: Melt the almond bark

Step 2: Grind the Oreos and cream cheese with a blender or mixer 

Step 3: Roll Oreo/cream cheese mixture in small balls
Step 4: Once the Almond Bark is melted, cover the balls with the white chocolate and place on parchment paper
Step 5: Paint snowman faces =] 
Step 6: Wrap them individually, cute poem optional!

The Gang's All Here!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Nanaimo Bars


Servings: 16
Kcals per serving: 250 
Fat per serving: 15 g
Sodium per serving: 40 mg


Bottom Layer:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 egg
1 1/4 cup graham wafers, processed into a crumb
1 cup unsweetened coconut

Middle Layer:
1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing/confectioner's sugar, sifted

Top Layer:
4 oz dark chocolate or semi-sweet plus 2 tbsp butter
shredded coconut to garnish, optional


Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment paper and grease with butter on all side.

Middle Layer:
In a small bowl, mix together the coconut milk, vanilla with custard powder.  Stir until smooth.
Beat the butter into a large bowl until smooth and creamy.  Add the custard, coconut milk, and vanilla mixture.  Beat for a few minutes.
Gradually, add in the icing sugar and beat for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.  Set aside.

Bottom Layer: 
In a saucepan, whisk together the butter, sugar, and sifted cocoa powder.  Heat on medium to low and stir frequently until smooth.  Add the egg and stir well.  Remove from heat and stir in the coconut and graham wafer crumbs.  Stir well and mix with your hands.
Press the mixture into the prepared pan.  Press firmly and evenly.  Take the middle layer frosting and spread over the top of the bottom layer evenly.  Place in the freezer until firm, or 35-45 minutes.

Top Layer:
Melt the chocolate and butter.  Stir well until smooth and all clumps are gone.  Remove the pan from freezer and spread the chocolate over the top. Sprinkle coconut on top if desired.  Smooth out as much as possible and place in the freezer for roughly 1 hour, or until set.

Note: Middle layer gets very soft at room temperature.  It is best to keep in the fridge  until serving and cut when chilled.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Recipe for Motivation


         As a health educator, I believe one of my strongest talents is motivating others.  What I mean by that is I help others find their motivation.  Humans are creatures of habit, if we do something one way and like it, we are going to stick with it.   If health and fitness isn't part of your daily routine, then you're probably lacking motivation.  If you start eating healthy than two weeks from now you give up, it's your motivation that's hindering your success.
     While interning with a weight management center this summer, I had numerous clients eager to start on their lifestyle change.  The first meeting they were all more than willing to sign their life away to reach their personal health goals.  However, a week or two into the program, the "newness" and "freshness" begins to wear off and it can be challenging to stick with the new routine.  In order to be truly successful, you need someone to "feed" you inspiration.  Talk to someone about why you want to develop a healthier lifestyle. DO NOT TALK ABOUT NUMBERS ON A SCALE!  That is trivial and will leave you discourage.  Instead, talk about changing to decrease medication use, lower cholesterol/blood pressure, or perhaps just setting a good example for your kids.  Whatever it is, it needs to be personal, and you need to want it.  Your "feeder" person will remind you of why you want to change when you are discouraged.  They will help you reinforce your goals and make them real.  Even have them help you visualize yourself at your goal in your head. Think about how good it will feel when you reach it and how far along you already are. 
    It is great to think about your goals.  Make them real by writing them down and place them somewhere to constantly remind you of what you are working towards.  That will help keep you on track to progress until you succeed.  You also what to make sure you are reinforcing good behavior.  Positive feedback can be a positive weapon when used correctly.  Make note of your good efforts and accomplishments.  Set smaller goals with shorter timelines and reward yourself with a new bag, jewelry, or a pair of jeans when you reach them.  By reinforcing the things you are doing right, it will help instill good habits which will translate to more results! And remember, everyone has set-backs at some point. It is natural and normal when working towards your goals. Just remember it is only temporary and you are in control! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A healthy outside starts from the inside.

    Nearly everyone has the same goal of losing weight for the New Year, however, it's the holiday season and more than likely you are elbow high in a bowl of chips, candies, and holiday treats.  You are still feeling stuffed from Turkey Day but the carry-ins and parties are at a stead-fast rate with no end in site.  You are starting to realize your pants are getting slightly snug and you still have 3 weeks until the New Year.  This time of year can be extremely challenging to stay on a healthy path. Especially when your home constantly smells of freshly baked cookies and pies. The holidays come only once a year and while I have no problem indulging in some peanut butter fudge and key lime pie, remember that moderation is key. However, if you do end up eating an entire sheet cake and then feel guilty about it, forgive yourself.  It's over, offer yourself comfort, give yourself acceptance, and get back on track as soon as you can.  There is no need to beat yourself up for something that happened momentarily in the past.
    So instead of running from couch to kitchen treating your body like a waste basket, here are 20 non-food related activities that will ensure you can keep your smaller pants!

1. Go for a jog.  There is nothing greater than the smell of fresh air.
2. Read a book.
3. Write in a journal.  You could even start a weight loss journal!
4.  Volunteer for an organization.
5. Make up a workout on your own.  Share it with your friends or upload it on YouTube.
6. Go ice skating, after all, what is winter without some skates?
7. Learn how to sew, crotchet, or knit. Hello, Christmas presents for family and friends!
8. Look up DIY projects online.
9. Pick up a new hobby: photography, painting, scrap-booking. It's up to you!
10. Start writing a list of New Year resolutions.
11.  Go SHOPPING! After all, carrying all those bags is great exercise!
12. Sign up for workout classes
13. Rent movies
14. Build a fort out of pillows and blankets  (I suggest doing 13 and 14 together)
15. Take a nap
16. Make a list of things that motivate you
17. Take up an instrument
18. Take a mini-road trip
19. Wrap Christmas Presents
20. Reflect on the person you are/the person you want to be.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pumpkin Squash Ravioli

yields about 24 ravioli 
Servings: 4  
kcals per serving: 150 kcals
fat per serving: 1.5 g
sodium per serving: 150 mg 

1 cup pumpkin puree
1 2 pound butternut squash
1/4 cup Ricotta cheese or 2 tablespoons parmesan 
1 package store-bought whole-wheat pasta sheets (you can make your own if that's your fancy)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together pumpkin puree and cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.
Drop teaspoons full of filling (puree and cheese) along the pasta sheet.  Fold the pasta over the filling. 
Press down on edges of pasta sheets with a fork to create a good seal. 
To cook, boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water for 3-5 minutes, or until they float. Drain pasta.
Place pasta and cut up squash cubes in a large bowl. 
Top with your favorite butter or cream sauce.  Serve and enjoy!

*Some good sauces for pumpkin ravioli are hazelnut cream sauce, butter sauce, sage and browned butter. To make sage butter sauce, melt ½ cup unsalted butter, over low heat. Tear 6 sage leaves and put them in the pan when the butter begins to sizzle and brown. Fry for 20-30 seconds, remove from the heat and grate in ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Low-Fat Blueberry Muffins

Clearly, I am in a blueberry mood this week.  First pancakes and now muffins!
Lucky for me, blueberries are a super food full of phytonutrients and antioxidants.

Servings: 12
Kcals per serving: 105
Fat per serving: 0.5 g
Sodium per serving: 270 mg

1 1/2 cup wheat bran
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 egg whites
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup all wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line muffin tray with paper liners.  Mix together wheat bran and skim milk, let stand for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together applesauce, egg, brown sugar, and vanilla.  Beat in bran mixture.  Sift together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Stir into bran mixture until just blended.  Fold in blueberries.  Scoop into muffin cups.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly tapped.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Blueberry Pancakes

This is my kind of lazy Sunday morning brunch. These are so tasty you won't want to pile on the sugary syrup.  The blueberries leave the pancakes moist and sweet, and since they are whole-grain, they will fill you up AND last!

Pancakes: 10
kcals per pancake: 65
fat per pancake: 0.3 g
sodium per pancake: 400 mg

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 egg whites
1 cup skim milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup blueberries (save a few extra's to sprinkle on top)

Sift together flour and baking powder.  Set aside.
Beat egg, milk, salt in bowl.
Stir in flour until just moistened, add blueberries, and stir together.
Preheat skillet on medium heat, spray skillet with cooking spray.  Pour roughly 1/4 cup of batter into pan for each pancake. Cook until bubbly and flip.  Continue until golden brown.
Put a dollop of cool whip on top with a few blueberries.
Eat and enjoy!

Blueberry Overload!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Snow Day Hot Chocolate!

I have only had one snow day in college, and today is the day.  And let me tell ya, I am using it to my advantage! Netflix, movies, hot chocolate, the whole nine yards! I have a favorite low-calorie/low-fat hot chocolate recipe that I love on days like today and I am excited to share it with you. You can mix it up by adding some crushed peppermint and a dollop of marshmallow fluff.

Servings: 1
Kcals per serving: 70 kcals
Fat per serving: 0.5 g

WARNING! This has an intense chocolate flavor!
Heat 8 oz of water in a Keurig or boil 8 oz of water and place in a large microwavable mug.
Add 2 tablespoons of baking cocoa.
Add 5-10 chocolate chips and stir until mixed well.
Add 2 ounces of skim milk and place in microwave for roughly 45 seconds.
Remove, stir, and enjoy!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My Experience at a Food Allergy Camp! AND a recipe!

      On November 15, my three best friends and I loaded up my car and headed to a food allergy camp in Scottsville, KY. It had been years since any of us had been to camp and we were looking forward to staying up late, girl chats, and sharing bunk rooms!  Little did we know, we would learn more from that weekend than we had ever imagined.
Almost immediately upon arrival, we were notified the camp had eliminated the top 8 food allergens as well as the top 3 airborne allergens from the entire campus! (This included corn syrup which is in practically EVERYTHING ... including my diet soda! A whole weekend without diet soda. EEK!)  It also meant no creamer for the coffee, no bread or bread products, no ketchup, and numerous everyday staples. Regardless, we were happy to make it on-time (thanks to Kayla ;] ) and headed to the dorm to unpack for the weekend ahead. We were ready to have fun!
       Shortly after orientation, campers started to arrive and we were soon matched with our weekend "families". The camp did a fabulous job setting up coordinators with campers because my little girl was super awesome.  She was incredibly smart and very polite.  I knew we were going to have a blast together!  After some ice breaker games, everyone headed to the dining hall for dinner....and I was about to have an eye opening experience.
        My 9 year old camper was ecstatic as the buffet tables were being put in place.  I assumed she was hungry (she had a 6 hour drive to get to camp) and was just ready to eat.  It was then that her mom said that this camp and Disney World, which has ServSafe Chefs that specialize in food allergens, were the only places she was able to go through a buffet line/order a meal due to her allergies.  She was allergic to several foods and was unable to go to fast food restaurants or out to eat due to cross contamination and airborne reasons.
         I had just hit a brick wall.  I had NO idea that someone could have food allergies to the extent of this young girl, and she wasn't even the worse!  I was immediately thrown back to the Burger King french fries and McDonald's happy meal's I grew up with. I remembered going to birthday parties and eating cake and ice cream, ordering pizza and watching movies on the couch.  Nearly all celebrations as a child, (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween, etc.) all centered around food and this girl was unable to experience that.  99.9% of the meals she consumed her mom prepared at home.  Her mom was telling me how challenging it was to prepare Thanksgiving due to the amount of different utensils and specialized foods she had to buy.  Her mom even had to watch for specific lotions because they often contained cocoa or tree nuts!  I stood there in disbelief as I heard their story.  And for the first time, I realized how challenging life can be for someone with food allergies.  And I suddenly became aware of all I take for granted daily.
        My friends and I learned a lot that weekend and we came home inspired and even more determined to become Registered Dietitians.  The weekend was certainly a period of personal growth and learning.  And we will be forever thankful for the opportunity. So, in honor of that weekend, I decided to post a recipe that is milk and egg free!

Servings: 12
Kcals per serving: 180
Fat per serving: 5.5 g
Sodium per serving: 110 mg

1.5 cups flour   (if you have a gluten allergy, use 1.75 cups GF flour mix with 1 tsp xanthan gum)
3 tbsp cocoa powder (optional)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
.5 tsp salt
1 tbsp vinegar
5 tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.  Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl and stir to combine. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until you get a smooth batter. Do not overbeat. Pour in a greased and floured pan or cupcake pan.  Bake in oven (35 minutes for cake and 20 minutes for cupcakes)

This was a common recipe used during the depression era when eggs and milk were rationed.  Not Betty Crocker?  No worries!   This is SUPER simple and nearly impossible mess up!