Quick, delicious, and guilt-free peanut butter cookies

Have you ever had the urge for sweets?  Of course you have, everyone has.  That is why this post is especially perfect for you!

I have discovered the best and easiest guilt-free cookie recipe.  You might be doubtful at first but once you take them out of the oven and dive in for your first bite you will experience nothing but sweet, pure cookie bliss.

The recipe is as follows:

1 c peanut butter

½ c sweetener

3 tbsp egg whites

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp raisins

Pinch of cinnamon

photo (5)That’s it!  Mix the ingredients together until it becomes dough-like and spoon onto baking trays.  Set the oven to 350⁰F for 8-12 minutes.

I hope you try this recipe since it is so easy and so delicious!  I never buy desserts to regularly have them stocked in my freezer as to try to stay as healthy as I can but every now and then I get a sweet craving and this satisfied that perfectly!

Even if you live a healthy lifestyle it is still good to allow yourself to splurge and eat foods you enjoy without worrying about calories.  I try my hardest to live the 80-20 lifestyle where 80% of my day I make sure to make healthy choices and 20% of my day I allow a small splurge.  It really keeps me in check and prevents me from completely breaking down and going to an unhealthy lifestyle by allowing small splurges.

Enjoy!


My delicious ham, egg, and cheese dinner scramble pie…thing

If you have a life anywhere comparable to mine, it may consist of the desire for quick, simple, delicious meals.  Well my friends, I am here to provide you a prime example of just that.

This weekend I was visiting family in CT and on the ride back home I was debating on whether I even wanted to cook tonight after a four hour drive home. Thankfully, I was inspired by my last week’s dinner and thought of something similar but not close enough where I would be bored after having almost the same thing last week.  Note how I make one giant meal on Sundays and have leftovers every day so I don’t have to worry about cooking all week.  It is a beautiful thing.

Anyway, I decided that I wanted to make quiche.  However, as I was making it I thought it appropriate that I name it something different due to the combination of ingredients I was using to make this dinner creation.  I am calling it my ham, egg, and cheese dinner scramble pie.

I used reduced fat crescent roll that I used with last week’s Shepherd’s Pie to line the bottom of the baking pan.  I poured frozen vegetables over the crust, scrambled eggs mixed with 1% milk to pour over that, and chopped up thick cuts of fat free ham to place on top.  Lastly, I sprinkled 2% colby jack cheese over everything because, why not?

As one can gather, no pre-cooking was necessary and it took all of five minutes to throw it all in the pan.  I baked it at 350° for about 40 minutes but when I took it out the egg wasn’t quite cooked all the way so I baked it again at about 370° for almost ten minutes until the cheese was slightly brown. photo (2)

This can be made in round baking containers as well or even cupcake trays for individual mini servings.  Depending on the container, measurements of the ingredients will obviously vary.  Some may choose to use an actual pie crust but I feel that my reduced fat crescent roll crust is simply less calories and a little healthier overall.  I always try to use reduced fat or low calorie foods but you may choose differently!  It may also be delicious with breakfast sausage in it rather than ham or bacon slices!  I would personally use turkey bacon or turkey sausage but that is my personal preference.  Either way would be fabulously delicious and healthy for you!

There is no reason why you must resort to fast food or frozen meals if you lead a busy life!  You don’t need to compromise your health, budget, time, or satisfaction of your taste buds!  Follow me and I’ll show you quick and simple meals that will keep you looking forward to dinner time and feeling good!  Enjoy!

My Shepherd’s Pie

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People love food.  Even if someone is a picky eater, there is something edible that person cannot get enough of.  No matter how many differences you may have with someone, one aspect of your lives that you will always have in common with them would be food.  It is relatable to everyone.  This is why I would love to have a focus for my blog that involves food.

With that, let’s talk about Shepherd’s Pie.

It was a staple meal growing up, and it was also something my mom made when she cooked for friends and family.  It has everything one needs in a meal all at once and it is super easy to make.  Today, I took a stab at it for the first time and I am so excited to try my creation.

I bought a roll of unbaked croissant bread that I unrolled and flattened out in a baking pan.  I cooked ground turkey and mixed that with frozen vegetables and poured gravy over that for some moisture and flavor.  The most exciting part of this meal, however, is the mashed potatoes.

I don’t make mashed potatoes too much but as I was discussing my cooking endeavors with a friend, he suggested using cream cheese instead of butter and red potatoes instead of white.  If you have never made mashed potatoes like this before, I strongly suggest giving it a try.  What is better than creamy and cheesy mashed potatoes?  That’s right, nothing.

I boiled the potatoes, mashed them with a wooden spoon with the skin still on, mixed in a package of cream cheese, some milk, and garlic cloves and the end result is nothing but smooth, rich, and delightful mashed potatoes.  Once that was all mixed in the bowl I layered it on top of the ground turkey and veggies and put it in the oven at 350° for about 40 minutes.  I waited until the potatoes had a slightly brown edge to them and then took them out of the oven.

I wish that I could direct you more specifically on the amounts of each ingredient I used but honestly, I couldn’t tell you what I did.  I believe that is the fun part about cooking though; nothing about cooking has to be exact.  It is something you can take step by step and modify it as you go.  Learn what you like and try something new.  Add in small amounts of your ingredients at first and if you think your creation needs more, add more!

For my version of this Shepherd’s Pie, I can say that I tried to use healthier versions of the ingredients where I could.  I used low sodium gravy, ground turkey (traditionally this is made with ground lamb but many use ground beef), reduced fat cream cheese, and 1% milk.  In my opinion, it comes out just as delicious with the healthier ingredients.  You never know until you try!

Let me know if you have ever made Shepherd’s Pie before and how you made it!  I would love to have a discussion with different ideas about recipes.

Portion Control Catastrophe

I decided to stop by Starbucks this morning on my way to work today.  There’s something wonderful about a one hour drive to work with a nice hot cup of coffee in hand to get my head straight for work.  So, I walked into the little coffee shop and ordered a latte.

As the barista was making my drink, he turned to me and politely asked in his sophisticated English accent, “Would you like something to eat with this; perhaps a big, fat bacon breakfast sandwich?”

I politely declined; the sound of a “big fat bacon breakfast sandwich” sounded delicious, of course, but I already had breakfast.  It wasn’t until I was almost to work when I started thinking more about the barista’s offer.  Why did he use “big, fat” to describe the sandwich to me?  What is it about these words that would have appealed to me and made me want to buy the sandwich?

I think we might all know the answer here.  When it comes to food, Americans love anything that sounds like they will be receiving a lot of whatever they are ordering.  If he had just said “bacon breakfast sandwich”, it would have still sounded delicious.  However, adding in “big, fat” might have been just what the majority of the American public would have needed to cave and give in to the barista’s offer.

It is something that is being worked on in this country but when I think about the average portion size of a meal in other countries, it is mind-blowing.  This article is just one example of how Americans compare to different countries with the sizes of drinks at McDonald’s.  I was overjoyed when restaurants began to list the calorie count on their menus and other nutritionals.  Many restaurants also have this information online which I occasionally like to glance at before going there for a meal.

I just wanted to mention this and see what everyone has to say about the portion sizes in America.  What are your thoughts?  Do you think America will be able to have similar portion sizes to other countries?  Do you think the larger portion sizes in America contribute to the obesity problem we have?

Stay healthy and be strong!

Debate Day: Vegans vs Vegetarians vs Pescetarians vs Omnivores vs ?

I want to spark some debate today.

I have never been a vegetarian, pescetarian, or vegan in my life.  I have always truly felt that since humans are technically omnivores, our bodies were meant to process and be in need of both meat and vegetables.  That’s how we were built, so I never saw a reason to stop eating meat or any animal by-products.  Also, that’s simply how I was raised.  Meat and other animal by-products have always been a part of my life.  I understand that some people feel bad for the animals or feel that animals aren’t treated right at farms.  However, having worked on several farms and studied the industry for years, I have learned that not every farm operates inhumanely.  Of course there are the farms that have poor conditions and treatment towards their livestock, but that does not mean that is how every farm operates.  Also, having graduated with an Animal Science degree, I have a respect behind the science and practices that go into growing healthy animals to feed the world.  In addition, I have witnessed how chickens will lay eggs every day whether you want them to or not and cows will lactate after calving whether you want them to or not.  I would hate to have these nutritious by-products go to waste.  So, I choose to eat them.

I just wanted to skim the surface there on my point of view.  I completely respect everyone’s opinions and choices in what they eat; please don’t take this as me bashing anyone who thinks differently than I do.  I also understand that some people choose certain diets due to medical reasons which, of course, is understandable.  I simply want to spark some debate and see what others have to say.  Please keep your comments respectful towards others or I will unfortunately have to remove them.  Now, let me hear what you have to say!

Have a Healthy Valentine’s Day: Your Complete Guide to a Guilt-Free V-Day

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I couldn’t possibly let Valentine’s Day go by without making a special post dedicated to it.  With all of the hype around finding the perfect box of chocolates for your date and setting reservations at favorite restaurants, it might be hard to stay in tune with your healthy side.  Now, as mentioned in an earlier post, I am all about the occasional splurge, but if you are looking for a guilt-free Valentine’s Day, I have you covered!

  1. Chocolate. There is no reason that you have to push all of the delicious chocolate aside.  If you would like to indulge in these sweet treats, the best option is dark chocolate.  It has a lot more health benefits over milk chocolate and still has full flavor.  A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains 11g of fiber, 67% of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) of fiber, 58% of the RDA for Magnesium, 89% of the RDA for Copper, 98% of the RDA for Manganese, and includes some amounts of potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and selenium as well.  Dark chocolate is also a great source of antioxidants, chemicals that block other chemical activity called radicals that could cause damage to your body’s cells.  Dark chocolate can also lower blood pressure which allows for better blood flow, it may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, protect your skin from sun damage, and improve brain function.  So by all means, don’t be afraid of a little bit of chocolate this Valentine’s Day.
  1. Dinner. Dinner can be a challenge since many restaurant menus may tempt you into a high-caloric, high-fat, high-carb, high-everything entrée.  However, there is a way around it!  I would recommend checking online on the restaurant’s website to see if they have nutritionals for the menu.  Some restaurants will have calorie counts and other nutrition facts listed online so you can prepare ahead for what you will order.  If they don’t have this feature, try asking your server if they have any healthier suggestions.  Many restaurants now have calorie counts on the menu so that could be a great guide as well.

 

For those of you who would rather have a cozy night in and not fight the Valentine’s Day crowds out, I have the perfect recipe for you.  Last year, my boyfriend and I made this together and it was not only fun to cook together, it was an absolutely delicious, easy, and guilt-free meal.  It is a fettuccini alfredo recipe off of the “Hungry Girl” website, one of my favorite places for guilt-free meals.  You can find the recipe here and you will immediately see how easy it is!  It is only four ingredients and only takes about fifteen minutes to make!  When we made it, though, we had some modifications.  While I enjoy the shiritaki noodles, he doesn’t–so we used regular fettuccini noodles.  Once the noodles cooked all the way, we strained them and dumped them back into the pot.  This is where we added the parmesan cheese, Laughing Cow cheese, and instead of sour cream we used milk (since we knew we wouldn’t use a whole tub of sour cream and didn’t want to waste it).  Also, for extra protein, we added in Italian sausage.  We stirred all of the ingredients in and let it all melt together into a sauce and before we knew it, we had a delicious and guilt-free dinner ready.  Although we didn’t follow the recipe exactly, it was still a lower-calorie version of your typical fettuccini alfredo.

  1. For all of you wine lovers, I have a recommendation for you!  Per my Italian heritage, I couldn’t imagine a Valentine’s Day without wine.  It is just an absolute essential and it is important to get this element of the day right.  There is a particular line of wine called Skinnygirl.  This is a complete collection of all flavors and varieties of wine that are all low-calorie that you can check out here.  Personally, I have never tried these wines but I have heard positive feedback.  If you’re counting calories this V-Day, give it a try!

With that, I hope you all have a fabulous Valentine’s Day and enjoy some delicious calorie-saving treats!

Stay healthy and be strong!

The New Year’s Resolution diet isn’t working? It’s okay, just quit.

diet_scale_000001667800At every start to the new year, there are countless people who announce how they are going to start on a new diet and work out and lose weight.  The new year brings on a sense of motivation to start off new, begin on a fresh slate, and make a positive change to your life.

Well, this diet thing may not be what you need.

Don’t get me wrong, you may begin your diet, limit yourself on carbs and junk food and see quick results.  Your miracle diet plan may leave you feeling healthier and happier and thinner.  You may fit in those jeans you wore in high school again.  Your friends and family overwhelm you with compliments and everything seems to have fallen into place.  However, after perhaps a couple months of your new diet, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain the eating habits that it demands.  Inevitably, the weight returns.

Don’t fall into the trap of a new diet.  Ease into a new lifestyle.

For long-term results that leave you in a state of happiness and health, create a new lifestyle for yourself.  This will not happen quickly or easily necessarily, but it is more effective than picking up a diet book off of the shelf at your local Target store.

Start by evaluating exactly how you go about eating and exercise in your life.  How often do you exercise?  What types of food do you eat on a daily basis?  Be honest with yourself, as this will only help you achieve ultimate health in the long run.  Create measureable goals that are realistic so you can have something concrete to work towards.

Once you have completely evaluated yourself and your health, begin by making little changes slowly.  There is no need to tell yourself, “I will stop eating ice cream tomorrow,” or, “I will work out every day from now on”.  Cutting yourself off from foods that you have always enjoyed immediately will only make them more tempting and you will return back to your old habits.  One rule that I do my best to follow is to have 80% of your diet every day be completely healthy decisions and have 20% be slightly off the course of strictly healthy.  With little splurges every day, it makes you less likely for big splurges and weight gain.

As far as exercise, don’t drive yourself crazy with workouts that you don’t enjoy.  Don’t force yourself to wake up every day and run three miles if you dread it.  Don’t hop on the elliptical and force yourself through a half hour of leg-pushing work.  An activity as simple as walking everyday will make the difference.  Play basketball with your friends, go swimming, or go for a light jog if that is what you enjoy.  Any kind of activity that you enjoy will be the easiest to commit to and you will no longer dread working out.  Simply find something that you can look forward to and work it into your schedule.

Exercising and eating healthy go hand-in-hand.  By incorporating both of these elements into your life, you will reap the benefits.  Good luck and stay strong!