Amazing Banana Cashew Coconut Smoothie

I love smoothies as both delicious + filling snacks as well as convoys for healthy food that you might not want to eat by itself like spirulina, maca powder or flax seeds. This recipe handily combines both those aspects with a thick and creamy banana cashew coconut smoothie that has tons of flax seeds for healthy omega-3 oils and drinks like a milkshake.

Banana Coconut Cashew Smoothie

Banana Coconut Cashew Smoothie

This is a perfect afternoon snack; I am always starving after I get back from work and craving something sweet but at the same time don’t want to overeat and then ruin my appetite for actual dinner. This smoothie has become my go to post-work pre-dinner snack and the best part is that its only 210 calories.

Banana Coconut Cashew Smoothie

This recipe is completely vegan, gluten free, paleo and I imagine if you use raw coconut flakes and raw flax seeds it can easily be made raw too…(almond milk is raw right?)

Banana Coconut Cashew Smoothie

Banana Coconut Cashew Smoothie

Banana Coconut Cashew Smoothie

As always I like to make my smoothies with unsweetened vanilla almond milk because its super creamy, tastes amazing and is only 30 calories per cup.

Almond Milk

Almond Milk

Almond Milk

For the bananas you only need half a banana, you can use more if you want it thicker but I just save the other half for the next day’s smoothie (or to top granola with).

Bananas

Bananas

Bananas

I used raw cashews because that’s what I happened to have on hand but feel free to use toasted ones. Although for snacking I prefer toasted cashews the raw ones have a lighter, creamier taste to them thats perfect in this smoothie.

Raw Cashews

Raw Cashews

Raw Cashews

I used sweetened coconut shreds from Trader Joe’s but you can use coconut flakes as well, doesn’t matter as they are going to be blended.

Shredded Coconut

Shredded Coconut

Shredded Coconut

Lastly the flax seeds were added mostly for their omega-3 content but turns out they actually added a nice nutty, toasted flavor to the smoothie.

Flax Seeds

Flax Seeds

RECIPE:

Makes one smoothie.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of almond milk
1/2 banana, sliced
1 tablespoon shredded coconut
1 tablespoon raw cashews
1 tablespoon flax seeds
Sweetener to taste (I added Splenda but stevia, agave or honey would work as well)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Add everything to a blender.
2. Blend until smooth.
3. Taste and blend more if the texture of the flax seeds is too gritty.
4. Drink up.

Banana Cashew Coconut Smoothie

Banana Cashew Coconut Smoothie

Banana Cashew Coconut Smoothie

Banana Cashew Coconut Smoothie

Although I found it unnecessary cinnamon could be a yummy addition to this smoothie or some cocoa powder too. One thing to note is that I think the vanilla flavor in the almond milk makes it so much better so if you are using plain almond milk definitely add a dash of vanilla extract in.

Banana Cashew Coconut Smoothie
Banana Cashew Coconut Smoothie

Healthy & Delicious Chocolate Pudding Multi-Grain Oatmeal

Whenever I think of porridge I think of something bland and beige, the sort of thing that only people in prison and old time-y kids in Charles Dickens novels eat. This all changed after seeing this amazing post “To Talk Porridge” from Megan Gordon at A Sweet Spoonful. This porridge was not bland; it was topped with cranberries, coconut, and almonds; and it was not beige (well not entirely anyways), it was swirled with deep red and tinged with pink. And multi-grain oatmeal guys, is really just code for porridge. It just sounds nicer than the word ‘porridge’.

DSC_0243

Taking inspiration from that post I came up with a yummy and very chocolate-y multi-grain porridge that is essentially like eating chocolate pudding for breakfast…chocolate pudding that is dairy free, refined sugar free, egg free and has 358 calories, 4.5 grams of fiber, 5.7 grams of protein and is full of healthy coconut fats and omega-3. If you switch the grains too you could definitely make this gluten-free.

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal

Although I’ve always liked the idea of oatmeal I never really liked hot oatmeal itself. It was sort of gluey and too one note. I think porridge, or maybe this porridge, solves that issue by using more than one grain for texture, so its more “toothsome” (stealing this word from A Sweet Spoonful’s post as I thought it was very evocative of what I was going for…). Naturally I started with rolled oats but for texture variation I added farro and spelt. Using a variety of grains also makes it healthier, adding in different nutrients, fiber and protein (depending on the grains you go for). I also added some chia seeds at the end which not only possess the uncanny power of transforming anything into “pudding” (look it up) but are also rich in omega-3. In order to reduce cooking time I used Trader Joe’s 10-Minute Farro and for the spelt I’m pretty sure I just used regular spelt even though the cooking time for spelt is supposed to be quite long…but it was still fine with 10 minutes.

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal

For the liquid in the porridge I went with unsweetened vanilla almond milk, which is very low in calories but still adds creaminess. And after ensuring this was healthy to make it delicious I added cocoa powder, dark chocolate, coconut flakes and pistachios. To make it sweet you have a lot of options; brown sugar, honey or agave would be nice but in trying to stay healthy I used coconut sugar sweetened with stevia. My mom gave me this stuff because she abhors my Splenda habit (sorry Mum) and on its own or in a drink I think the Stevia taste is too pronounced but in something like this it blends in very well with no detectable aftertaste….must be all that chocolate 🙂

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal

In order to avoid gluey oatmeal I followed the tips that Megan gave out on her post including to toast the oats first, only add the oats when the liquid is boiling and to avoid stirring the mixture while it cooks.

Oatmeal, Farro & Spelt

Oatmeal, Farro & Spelt

BASIC MULTI-GRAIN OATMEAL

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:
– 1/4 cup rolled oats (76 calories, 2 grams fiber, 2.75 grams protein)
– 1/8 cup Trader Joe’s 10-Minute Farro (80 calories, 1.5 grams fiber, 3.5 grams protein)
– 1/8 cup spelt (73.5 calories, 2.4 grams fiber, 3.1 grams protein)
– 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil (58.5 calories)
– 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (60 calories, 2 grams fiber, 2 grams protein)

1. Heat a pan on medium heat and add the coconut oil when hot. Toss the oatmeal, farro and spelt in and toast in the coconut oil until they start to smell toasty. This also helps reduce cooking time.
2. Meanwhile, heat a pan with 1.5 cups of almond milk and bring that to a boil.
3. Add the toasted grains to the boiling almond milk, lower heat to simmer, cover and cook for 8 minutes.

CHOCOLATE PUDDING MULTI-GRAIN OATMEAL

– 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (36 calories)
– 2 tablespoons coconut sugar with stevia (96 calories)
– 2 squares dark chocolate (100 calories)
– 2 tablespoons chia seeds (136 calories, 1.4 grams protein)
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Once you have your basic multi-grain oatmeal cooked for 8 minutes, uncover the mixture.
4. Add in the the cocoa powder, coconut sugar, dark chocolate, chia seeds and remaining 1/2 cup of almond milk. You can add more or less almond milk depending on how thick you want your porridge. Stir minimally to combine, taste for doneness/add more sweetener if necessary then let cook for another 1-2 minutes.
5. Remove from heat, add in the vanilla extract, stir, add toppings and serve.

Grains

Grains

Coconut Oil and Coconut Sugar with Stevia

Coconut Oil and Coconut Sugar with Stevia

Cocoa and Dark Chocolate

Cocoa and Dark Chocolate

Chocolate Pudding Multi-Grain Oatmeal Pre-Toppings

Chocolate Pudding Multi-Grain Oatmeal Pre-Toppings

Now for the toppings. This is honestly perfectly fine by itself but some toppings really go that extra mile with making it feel like a dessert. I went with coconut flakes and pistachios.

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal Post-Toppings

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal Post-Toppings

Toppings

Toppings

But you could also go with fresh berries, dried apricots and almonds, fresh bananas with a peanut butter swirl (or PB2 if you’re conserving calories, see this post.), or anything you think pairs well with chocolate. Perhaps more chocolate.

DSC_0245

Another route you can go if you are not craving a simpler or fresher final product is to omit the chocolate and then add cinnamon and fresh fruit. This option also saves you 58 calories per serving so that your final product will be closer to 300 calories per serving.

Vanilla, Cinnamon & Berry Multi-Grain Oatmeal

Vanilla, Cinnamon & Berry Multi-Grain Oatmeal

VANILLA, CINNAMON & BERRY MULTI-GRAIN OATMEAL

– 2 tablespoons coconut sugar with stevia (96 calories)
– 2 tablespoons chia seeds (136 calories, 1.4 grams protein)
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– fresh or frozen berries

1. Once you have your basic multi-grain oatmeal cooked for 8 minutes, uncover.
4. Add in the coconut sugar, chia seeds, cinnamon and remaining 1/2 cup of almond milk. You can add more or less almond milk depending on how thick you want your porridge. Stir minimally to combine, taste for doneness/add more sweetener if necessary then let cook for another 1-2 minutes.
5. Remove from heat, add in the vanilla extract, stir, add toppings and serve.
6. If you are using fresh berries, slice over top and if you are using frozen microwave/heat until defrosted and juicy then pour it over the top of your oatmeal. Normally I will always choose fresh berries but in this case the ones that were frozen will be soft and bleeding berry juice that mixes into the oatmeal. “Bleeding” is a poor word choice here but you know what I mean. I’m all for it.

Vanilla Cinnamon Multi-Grain Oatmeal Pre-Topping

Vanilla Cinnamon Multi-Grain Oatmeal Pre-Topping

Post-Topping

Post-Topping

Added almonds and pumpkin seeds too btw.

Added almonds and pumpkin seeds too btw.

This version is also completely vegan. The chocolate pudding version is most likely vegan as well but I think that depends on the veganness of your dark chocolate. Mine was just regular Trader Joe’s dark chocolate so I believe it probably did have milk solids albeit a very small amount of them.

DSC

DSC
DSC

TIPS:
– Substitute other grains, I think wheat berries would be soooo good in this because of their chewy texture.
– Depending on how soft or how textured you want this vary the ratio of grains (more oatmeal will make it softer) or cook it for more or less time.
– You could even use different grains to make this gluten-free; amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum, rice and some kinds of oats are gluten-free. Just make sure you adjust the cooking times accordingly for the grains you use.
– So many toppings would be good with these. I really want to make the chocolate one again and add PB2 to it for peanut butter flavor then top with sliced bananas and a little swirl of real peanut butter. For the chocolate-free one I think some cinnamon baked almonds and pears with pecans would make it amazing. Or lots of coconut and a few chocolate chips if you only want a hint of chocolate.
– As I mentioned before the chocolate-free one is vegan and the chocolate pudding version is most likely 99.9% vegan depending on how vegan the dark chocolate you use is.

Healthy Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait with Granola

Now these were kind of inspired by acai bowls but mostly inspired by Jamba Juice’s Chunky Strawberry Topper fruit & yogurt parfait. Have you ever had one of those things? They are soo good. They blend strawberries, bananas, yogurt and peanut butter and then top it with fresh banana slices and granola. We had a Jamba Juice on campus and I used to have those things all the time until I realized they were 520 calories for the small ones which is more calories than a bagel with cream cheese! Therefore not really super appropriate for an in between classes snack and more meal replacement I suppose.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

So I wanted to copy this delicious little parfait with about 200 less calories.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

The key to making this healthier is replacing sugar-y yogurt with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and plain fat free greek yogurt. And substituting peanut butter with PB2, a powdered almost fat free peanut butter that is a great way to add peanut butter flavor with so much less fat. I elaborate more on PB2 in this post.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup frozen mixed berries or strawberries
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tablespoons of PB2
3 tablespoons of sweetener (I used Splenda but feel free to use whatever you like)
1 banana
1/4 cup of granola
Drizzle of honey (optional)

1. Blend berries, greek yogurt, almond milk, sweetener, PB2 and 1/2 the banana together until smooth-ish.
2. Pour into bowl.
3. Top with thinly sliced other half of the banana + granola.
4. Drizzle with honey if you’d like.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

The base of this parfait basically has 180 calories so if you add in the banana on top and granola on top you have a total of 310 calories (depending on the granola you use of course). A little more if you use real sugar as opposed to a calorie-free sweetener. Still its not bad right? This would make a fantastic breakfast. And you can add in a little less almond milk if you want it thicker and more PB2 if you want more peanut butterness.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

The one pictured above was made with strawberries only which makes it really taste similar to the Jamba Juice version. I also made it with mixed berries (see below). I think the reason because its so purple in the pictures below is all the blueberries as well as taking a picture at night. And a lot of my granola sank into the parfait hence the few little lonely granola islands. Its a yummy and filling snack high in protein and antioxidants but still delicious with the peanut butter and crunchy granola.

Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait with Granola

Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait with Granola

Healthy Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait

TIPS:
– This is is a great way to get all your healthy foods in a.k.a. throw in a tablespoon or two of coconut oil or flaxseed oil in the yogurt parfait mix or add in maca powder for energy! As far as topping it add in chia seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, coconut flakes and/or berries. If you added in all those things you would have the ultimate omega-3, healthy fats, vitamin E, protein, antioxidants, you name it power punch.
– Add fresh sliced strawberries on top. I wish I did!

Greek Fattoush Salad & The Best Healthy Tzatziki Sauce

Salads get a bad rep as a main course because oftentimes what we picture as a stereotypical salad are just the saddest little leaves of iceberg lettuce with some grainy tomatoes, limp cucumber and dry shreds of carrots strewn over top. When people say they don’t like salads though I believe they just haven’t found the salad for them yet. There’s a salad out there you’ll like.

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

From Thai som tam papaya salad with peanuts and shrimp to warm spinach salads with bacon, mushrooms and a poached egg. Jean George’s carrot and avocado salad is a must order at his restaurant ((or must make at home) and the pomegranate seeds on Joy the Baker’s apple and brussel sprouts salad really make the whole dish.

Anyways. Lately my favorite salads have been more Mediterranean leaning. I love fattoush salad which is a Lebanese salad that normally has lettuce (or purslane), cucumber, tomatoes, mint, radish, pita chips and a tangy dressing made of lime, garlic, olive oil and sumac. It sounds terribly simple but its quite addicting, plus a perfect complement to fatty, charred gyros. Another classic I think most people are familiar with is greek salad which has tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, feta, red onions and a dressing of red wine vinegar, oregano and olive oil.

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

So my clever idea that mostly arose out of coincidentally having most of these ingredients at home was to combine both these salads. Unfortunately I did not have sumac lying around so I omitted it but I highly recommend it if you can find it. It’s a reddish tangy spice that really adds a lot to the dressing and almost vaguely tastes like cranberries.

Lastly I added some simply cooked shrimp to the salad and made some amazing tzatziki sauce to go with this salad (and so that I could I dip extra pita chips in). This is an amazing tzatziki sauce recipe that’s pretty healthy to boot.

Chopping Away

Chopping Away

Chopped

Chopped

Chopped x2

Chopped x2

INGREDIENTS:

Serves 2 as a meal and 4 as a side.

1 pound of Persian cucumbers or 1 English cucumber
2 tomatoes
1 cup chopped romaine
1 cup of fresh mint leaves
1 cup of plain salted pita chips (add more if you like)
1/3 cup of kalamata olives
2-3 ounces of good feta (the one packed in olive oil is my favorite)
Juice of 2 limes (or lemons)
4 teaspoons of ground sumac
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup of olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Mix the lime juice, sumac, oregano, red wine vinegar, minced garlic cloves and olive oil into a small bowl. Whisk vigorously until incorporated and set aside.
2. Chop the tomatoes and cucumbers into 1/2 inch pieces. Add to a bowl.
3. Add in romaine, mint leaves, pita chips, and kalamata olives.
4. Add dressing and toss everything together.
5. Crumble the feta over top.
6. It’s ready! I would add a protein to make this a meal or serve as a side.

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

Now for the tzatziki. I love having a creamy side to have with the tangy salad but this tzatziki is great for serving alongside kebabs, pita chips, lemon shrimp skewers, you name it. It is especially good as part of a meal when you dollop it over rice.

Tzaziki

Tzaziki

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup fat free greek yogurt (strained if you want it thicker, I used Trader Joe’s brand but I like Oikos too)
1 cup fat free sour cream
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar
1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic finely minced
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 cucumber (any kind) peeled, seeded and diced into cubes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk together.
2. Add in all the ingredients except for the lemon and whisk together.
3. Add the juice of the lemon, adjusting for how tart you want it. Combine.
4. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil over top before serving.

Tzaziki

Tzaziki

So yes. This is how I ate my huge salad. The good thing about this salad is that its quite substantial but because the dressing is fairly healthy you can eat a lot of until you’re quite full. When trying to be healthy its generally good to always control portion size but when you’re eating a big bowl of what mainly consists of cucumbers and tomatoes you can pretty much dismiss portion control and eat until you are pre-tty full. Provided you didn’t go too crazy with the pita chips.

Final Product: Greek Fattoush Salad with Shrimp and Tzaziki

Final Product: Greek Fattoush Salad with Shrimp and Tzaziki

This is the final product. I pretty much made this in a large salad serving bowl and then just kind of ate out of the bowl. Even after eating until my post-gym induced ravenous heart’s content I still have a good amount of salad left for the next day. The pita chips do get a tad soggy so if you have extra this is either an excuse for eating all the pita chips and adding more next time or for picking them out when you eat the salad later.

Close Up

Close Up

Healthy PB + Chocolate + Banana Smoothie

Since we had a good response to our Healthy Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie post we decided to tweak that recipe to make a healthy peanut butter banana chocolate smoothie!

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

This recipe is the same base as the Healthy Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie but with a few tweaks. This definitely has more of a dessert feel with the chocolate and banana always adds a wonderful creaminess to smoothies. This is definitely a thicker smoothie but even so it only has 174 calories, only a smidgen more than the peanut butter & jelly smoothie!

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Banana Hanging Out in the Smoothie

And again the secret to making a healthy peanut butter smoothie is PB2. It’s a powdered peanut butter product that tastes like peanut butter but has almost none of the fat. I bought this once to try and though I do not eat it plain on toast it has become a staple in my pantry and I like adding it to smoothies, stir frys and to my cereal every now and then. To read more about PB2 or buy it click here.

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

INGREDIENTS:

Makes one smoothie.

1/2 cup of greek yogurt
1/2 cup of almond milk
1/2 banana (this can be frozen for extra creaminess!)
3 tbsp of PB2
1 square of dark chocolate
Sweetener (We used Splenda, but you could use stevia or if you don’t mind the extra calories real sugar, agave, honey etc.)

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Add the all the ingredients except for the dark chocolate to the blender and blend until smooth.
2. Once those are blended add the dark chocolate and blend until you have little chunks of dark chocolate throughout. I like these chunks big enough that you can chew on them, if you blend too long it’ll just be chocolate dust.
3. Pour into a cup and drink up. It’s ready!

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Although using half a banana seems impractical remember this smoothie recipe serves one and you can use the other banana half for a smoothie the next day or to add to your cereal. I personally like to only add 1/2 a banana to my morning cereal because 1) you’re saving 50 calories and b) your bananas last longer! I find that that half a banana super thinly sliced is the perfect amount to add to my Kashi Berry Crumble or Fiber One Chocolate cereal. I’m also adding a lot of other things (coconut flakes, chia seeds, raw almonds, etc.) so I don’t need to much of any one topping.

Before

Before

After

After

Anyways. Hope you enjoy the smoothie, I love these guys after work or pre/post-gym. They take 10 seconds to whip up and are quite satisfying without actually being bad for you.

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

TIPS:
– If you prefer milk chocolate or white chocolate go for it. They have a bit more calories than dark but since its only one square I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I think the white chocolate would be especially delicious in this.
– Other great additions would be coconut, almonds, or hazelnuts. These would add more texture to the smoothie so its less smooth but if you don’t mind that all would be quite tasty.
– This could also be made with regular milk, soy milk, etc. I just love the taste of almond milk and its extremely low calorie
– You can easily make this vegan by substituting soy or any other non-milk based yogurt for the greek yogurt!

Honey-Rhubarb & Greek Yogurt Parfait with Dark Chocolate

So. This is the first time I have ever cooked with rhubarb. But fear not,  it turned out quite nicely! I love rhubarb in desserts, it adds a great tang to pies and ice cream and pairs beautifully with strawberries or white chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Shavings

Dark Chocolate Shavings and a Swirl of Honey on the Parfait

It might seem intimidating at first because its a stalk-y vegetable that looks a lot like celery that is dyed bright red and you normally do not consume it raw or without cooking it with sugar. But cooking with it does not take very long at all and with the results you get a jammy sweet-tart confection that can be mixed into muffins, swirled into ice cream, mixed into a cocktail or dolloped on yogurt. I chose that last option.

Honey-Rhubarb & Greek Yogurt Parfait with Dark Chocolate

Honey-Rhubarb & Greek Yogurt Parfait with Dark Chocolate

Spoonful of the Parfait

Spoonful of the Parfait

I based my rhubarb on this recipe. I made some modifications and decided to add thyme to it. Thyme is such a nice woodsy herb that adds complexity to the honey-rhubarb compote. If you want it to be even more woodsy you could add rosemary even!

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

Rhubarb - Doesn't it look just like celery?

Rhubarb – Doesn’t it look just like celery?

INGREDIENTS:

Honey-Rhubarb Compote with Thyme

3 cups fresh rhubarb
1/4 cup orange juice
3 tbsp honey
1 sprig of fresh thyme

1. In a saucepan, bring the orange juice to a boil.
2. Add rhubarb, honey, and thyme and stir until everything is well mixed.
3. Cook mixture slowly for about 8 minutes. Taste for sweetness and add more honey if desired.
4. Let the compote cool completely. It can be stored in a jar for up to a week.

Honey-Rhubarb and Greek Yogurt Parfait with Dark Chocolate

Honey-Rhubarb and Greek Yogurt Parfait with Dark Chocolate

Honey-Rhubarb and Greek Yogurt Parfait with Dark Chocolate

honey-rhubarb compote
plain or vanilla greek yogurt
dark chocolate bar
honey

1. Layer the honey-rhubarb compote with greek yogurt
2. After each layer do a drizzle of honey and shave some dark chocolate on top of it.
3. Repeat.

Honey-Rhubarb Compote and Greek Yogurt Parfait

Honey-Rhubarb Compote and Greek Yogurt Parfait

The end result is a delicious mix of creamy yogurt, tangy-sweet honey rhubarb, and a touch of bitter from the dark chocolate. Its low-carb and satisfying (especially if you do big shavings of dark chocolate!). It made for a lovely breakfast today and tomorrow I’m thinking of adding the compote to some oatmeal with almond milk, coconut shavings and fresh sliced strawberries…

Honey-Rhubarb Compote and Greek Yogurt Parfait

Honey-Rhubarb Compote and Greek Yogurt Parfait

TIPS:
– You can substitute the honey in the compote recipe for a sweetener like sugar or the cup-for-cup Splenda! If you use a no calorie sweetener this would be a pretty healthy (and virtually zero carb) recipe.
– Adding in sliced strawberries or fresh blackberries to this parfait would also be lovely.
– If you don’t like dark chocolate, white chocolate pairs really well with rhubarb.
– Naturally you can use any kind of yogurt you like, and adding granola to this would really take it over the top!

Smudgy Honey-Rhubarb and Greek Yogurt Parfait Cup

Smudgy Honey-Rhubarb and Greek Yogurt Parfait Cup

Healthy Snacks

Even though I usually eat healthy meals when I eat at home (eating out is a whole other story) my downfall can be snacks. Naturally the best things to snack on are fruits and veggies. But every now and then you want something salty and crunchy and that might vaguely remind you of potato chips and chocolate and other delicious but perhaps unhealthy things. I try to limit how many snacks I buy because if I have 5 types of snacks in my house I will inevitably rotate between all 5 snacks during the course of the day. If I only have 1 or 2 snacks then it is more likely I will eat less of them since it gets boring to eat the same snack all day erryday.

So everyone is familiar with healthy snacks like nuts, low-fat low-sugar yogurt, etc. but this post is about some new healthy snacks I recently discovered that I had never tried before (and obviously really liked!):

Baked Snap Peas

Snap Pea Crisps

Snap Pea Crisps

Snap Pea Crisps

Snap Pea Crisps

These are crispy baked snap peas. They are salty and crunchy and so addictive. They are also very low in calories. Trader Joe’s makes their own version too and that one is great because they use cornmeal for extra crunchiness. This can seriously substitute potato chips for me, you could even dip it in hummus or light ranch dip!

Snap Pea Crisps Nutritional Information

Snap Pea Crisps Nutritional Information

Dried Peaches

Dried White Peaches

Dried White Peaches

Dried White Peaches

Dried White Peaches

So dried fruit in general is sweet and chewy and can almost (ALMOST) taste like candy. Everyone is familiar with the usual raisins, apricots, cranberries, etc. but Trader Joe’s has a great selection of dried everything. Strawberries, mangoes, pineapple…you name it. One of my recent favorites are the dried white peaches. These are sooo good but not overly sweet. They’re not super low calorie so you can’t just eat the entire bag but definitely a nice little sweet bite.

Dried White Peaches Nutritional Information

Dried White Peaches Nutritional Information

Kettle Corn

Cracker Jack Kettle Corn

Cracker Jack Kettle Corn

Cracker Jack Kettle Corn

Cracker Jack Kettle Corn

Ok. So kettle corn might not seem that healthy but this Cracker Jack version is not only not bad calorie-wise its quite tasty! I love kettle corn and I was wary of this premade version but its delicious and feels like a treat. Popcorn in general is a good snack (as long as its not popped in oil or drenched in butter) because its mostly air. Now I wouldn’t eat this whole bag at once but I liked having handfuls every now and then and I would just roll up the bag and the kettle corn would stay crispy and did not get stale at all over the course of 5 days.

Cracker Jack Kettle Corn Nutritional Information

Cracker Jack Kettle Corn Nutritional Information

Fiber One Chocolate

Fiber One Chocolate

Fiber One Chocolate

Fiber One Chocolate

Fiber One Chocolate

When I saw the commercial for this I really wanted to try it but I was also preparing for the worst since an 80 calorie high-fiber delicious chocolate cereal sounded improbable. However I LOVED this stuff. Its so good with cold milk and it even turns the milk chocolate-y after, like Cocoa Puffs! How nostalgic of sugar-y chocolate-y childhood cereals. Mostly I tend to eat this cereal with milk but this could also be eaten dry if you’re into that kind of thing!

Fiber One Chocolate Nutritional Information

Fiber One Chocolate Nutritional Information

Kashi Go Lean Toasted Berry Crumble

Kashi Go Lean Crisp

Kashi Go Lean Crisp Toasted Berry Crumble

Kashi Go Lean Crisp Toasted Berry Crumble

Kashi Go Lean Crisp Toasted Berry Crumble

I’ve tried a lot of the Kashi cereals because they do high protein cereals that aren’t super sugary. This is my favorite by far. The almond flax seed is a little too crunchy for me and some of them seem too dry but this one tastes like yummy granola. The kind thats served on parfaits and looks deceptively healthy but can actually be kind of high in fat and sugar. I like eating this cereal in parfaits too, layered with Greek yogurt, honey, bananas, strawberries, and almonds.

Kashi Go Lean Crisp Toasted Berry Crumble Nutritional Information

Kashi Go Lean Crisp Toasted Berry Crumble Nutritional Information

So those are the snacks I’ve been eating lately. Hope some of these are new to you and that you discover something new you like! I have some other healthy snacks I’ve been wanting to try like a super low calorie Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream I saw at Whole Foods so we’ll do another post on healthy snacks later on too!

TIPS:
– A great substitution you can do is when eating cereal to switch almond milk in instead of regular milk. I am by no means someone who dislikes or avoids dairy – I love greek yogurt, cheese and ice cream – but a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk has 30 calories while a cup of skim milk has 90 calories. I personally even prefer the taste of almond milk for cereal too.
– Silk also makes lower calorie coconut milk and a coconut milk + almond milk BLEND. Both are great if you love coconut.

5 Minute Healthy Salad – Strawberries, Feta, Almonds, Turkey + Thyme

One of the best ways to eat healthy during the work week is to BYOL – Bring Your Own Lunch. Cooking a bigger portion ensures you have extra leftovers to bring to work. However there are days when there are no leftovers to be had and very little time in the morning to prep something to take to work. Even though I have turned to Trader Joe’s frozen meals and PB&J’s, I also learned how to make tasty, filling salads that I can throw together in 5 minutes. I love salads with berries and this an easy strawberry salad that requires minimal cooking and will be ready to go in your trusty tupperware in less time than you take to shower in the morning.

strawberry, salad

Strawberry Salad

The best part about this recipe is that the basic concept is there but you can substitute whatever you have in your fridge: if I don’t have strawberries I throw in blueberries, if I don’t have feta I use goat cheese…No turkey? A tiny bit of bacon is not going to kill you. It’s all good 🙂

strawberry, salad

Strawberry Salad

INGREDIENTS:

Mixed greens
5 strawberries
2-3 slices of roasted turkey breast (not the cheap rubber-y kind please)
Handful of almonds
Feta
3 sprigs of thyme
2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat up a small frying pan and add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to it.
2. Rip up the turkey in small pieces and add it to the hot pan. Season to taste and let it get crispy and brown around the edges.
3. While the turkey is browning fill your plate/bowl with the mixed greens and slice up your strawberries and place them on top of the greens.
4. Add almonds, thyme leaves, then crumble feta on top.
5. Add the turkey thats browned.
6. Combine the 2 tbsp of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and honey in a small bowl then whisk together and season to taste. If you are eating this right away pour it on top and toss to combine. If taking to work add it to the bottom of the container so everything doesn’t wilt and you can toss it all together before eating.

Amounts in this recipe are fairly loose because you should not be measuring things that early in the morning. Just add however much you want of each ingredient. I recommend adding A LOT of toppings so that the salad feels like a meal and you’re not just eating greens by themselves like a rabbit :/

You could also always add more meat like chicken breast. I like using meat as just an accent as opposed to the main ingredient in this salad because reducing your meat intake is good for you (but hard to do!) and although we tend to cook full meals for dinner (complete with steaks or salmon filets and whatnot) there are so many tasty ingredients you don’t miss it in this salad.

Strawberry

Strawberry

A great way to make salads more flavorful too is to use herbs like salad greens. If you have ever had tabbouleh or fattoush or other Middle Eastern salads, they use parsley and mint as if they were salad greens not just accent herbs. So have herbs on hand! I grow rosemary, basil, parsley and thyme. All are doing pretty well except for the parsley which apparently cats like to eat…

For this salad basil, rosemary, or mint would also pair beautifully with the strawberries.

Thyme

Thyme

Basil

Basil

Rosemary

Rosemary

So this is a lovely 5 minute salad for spring, look out for future posts on a super fast nicoise style salad and citrus-avocado based salad…

TIPS:
– If you don’t have strawberries: blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries would all do – just make sure its fresh fruit!
– We used fat free feta but using real feta makes the salad creamier and using goat cheese even more so!
– If you don’t have almonds, hazelnuts would be particularly good here. Or else pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachio and most nuts would work…perhaps not peanuts.
– Candied nuts always are really good in berry salads as well! Those have a lot of calories so we stayed away from them this time.
– Any mixed greens maybe with the exception of iceberg lettuce could be used as a base – butter lettuce, romaine, spinach, etc.
– If you use a pre-made low fat dressing that would save you even more time!

The Healthy Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie

This is the perfect post-gym or late night snack when you’re craving something sweet but don’t want to actually indulge on sugary sweets. It’s creamy and peanut butter-y with a swirl of fresh strawberry that will hit all the right spots. And the best part is that its almost fat free and just about 160 calories!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie

The magic that makes a peanut butter smoothie so low calorie is a product I recently purchased called PB2. Its powdered peanut butter and you essentially can mix into anything and it will taste like peanut butter but with none of the fat! I have not had it on its own or on bread (that might be pushing it) but I love mixing this stuff in smoothies or even in my morning cereal. If you do want to just eat it on bread (or by itself) you just have to mix it with water. The other day I made a quick stir fry with shrimp, kale, and bok choy to which I added soy sauce, grated ginger, coconut flakes and 1 tablespoon of the PB2. I was skeptical of it working in savoury dishes but it was so GOOD!

powdered peanut butter

PB2

Whereas regular peanut butter has about 90 calories per tablespoon, this stuff only has 15 calories per tablespoon and is all natural with no weird additives:

PB2 label

PB2 label

I ordered it from Amazon and it was $4.60 for a 6.5 oz jar (buy it here).

So the smoothie has fairly simple ingredients besides the PB2: greek yogurt for creaminess, almond milk, oats, strawberries, and you need some kind of sweetener. Thats it. Read on for the recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup of greek yogurt (this could be frozen for a thicker smoothie)
1 cup of almond milk
3 tbsp of PB2
2 tbsp oats
1/2 cup of strawberries (could be fresh or frozen)
Sweetener (We used Splenda, but you could use stevia or if you don’t mind the extra calories real sugar, agave, honey etc.)

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Blend the strawberries with some of the sweetener. Alternatively if you like more texture, crush them with a fork with the sweetener until they are thoroughly smashed to bits. Set aside.
2. Now blend all of the rest of the ingredients with your desired amount of sweetener until smooth. The oats add fiber but will leave a bit of a grittier texture so if you are not a fan of this feel free to leave out.
3. Pour the peanut butter mixture into a large cup.
4. Pour the blended/smashed strawberries over it and give it a swirl with a knife.
5. Drink up!

peanut butter, jelly, smoothie, healthy

Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie

TIPS:
– Instead of 1/2 cup of strawberries you could add real sugar free jam if you have it at hand
– I have done this smoothie with banana instead of strawberries and highly recommend this as well.
– Other great additions would be coconut, dark chocolate or a big swirl of honey on top.
– This could also be made with regular milk, soy milk, etc. I just love the taste of almond milk and its extremely low calorie
– You can easily make this vegan by substituting soy or any other non-milk based yogurt for the greek yogurt!

peanut butter, jelly, strawberry, swirl

Swirl!

Now I’m just waiting for someone to come up with powdered low calorie Nutella….

peanut butter, jelly, smoothie, strawberry, healthy

Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie

If you prefer a Healthy Peanut Butter Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Or a Healthy Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait with Granola….

This is PB2’s company website http://www.bellplantation.com/

They also have it with chocolate!

Crispy Broccoli

Originally found this recipe on Pinterest and it came along with a hefty claim that the lady’s husband preferred this broccoli to french fries. I will come out and say these are no french fries; but it probably is the tastiest way to serve broccoli I have encountered. They are simple, pretty healthy, and the texture and taste of the broccoli is downright addictive. Will definitely be making these again!

Crispy broccoli

Crispy broccoli

The edges of the broccoli get browned and so crispy and the combination of lemon + parmesan really adds flavor. Maybe it won’t substitute a side of fries with your burger but it will definitely convert any broccoli haters.

(ALMOST) BETTER THAN FRENCH FRIES BROCCOLI

Serves 4
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 a lemon

PREPARATION:

  • Preheat oven to 400° F.
  • Place the broccoli on a baking sheet (foil-covered if you want to make clean up easier).
  • Drizzle with olive oil and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the broccoli
  • Add the parmesan, salt and pepper then toss to coat everything evenly.
  • Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until broccoli is crisp.
  • Serve. You can add some more parmesan over top before serving.

based on this recipe

TIPS:
– I think a little of browning is ideal but if you leave it in for longer you can get more of the brown crispy parts. Adding more oil with also increase browning.
– Best eaten right after you make it since it won’t remain crispy the day after.
– You definitely need fresh broccoli for this, frozen broccoli will be too wet and won’t crisp up nicely.