About Stacy


I am not a nutritionist, dietician or doctor. I am just a mom who lost 80 pounds and is trying to maintain her weight loss while getting her family to eat healthier.

Five a Day the Fun Way is full of REALISTIC recipes, tips, research, activities, and ideas to make eating healthy fun for the entire family.

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Homemade Cookie Dough Lara Bar

I LOVE cookie dough.

Homemade cookie dough Lara Bars

Homemade cookie dough Lara Bars

I love cookie dough more than actual cookies.

 

I make cookies just so I can eat the cookie dough.

 

But, the new Paleo diet I’m only doesn’t allow cookie dough…or cookies. Sniff…

So the next best thing is the Cookie Dough Lara Bar, which is one of the only nutrition bars that is Paleo friendly because it’s made purely of nuts and fruit, without wheat, grains or oats.

Lara bars are good, but I prefer FRESH food made from home than a box. I also love experimenting in the kitchen, so I made my own healthy cookie dough Lara bars. These are easy, require very little ingredients and can be made in seconds. Not only are these cheaper than Lara Bars, but I think they taste better.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cashews (I used raw, unsalted cashews)
  • 2/3 cup dates
  • dash salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. dark chocolate chips

Instructions

Blend the cashews, dates, vanilla and salt together in a blender or food processor. I used my Ninja Blender and it worked great. Add the chocolate chips. Roll into balls or cut into bars and refriderate. That’s it!

If you are not on the Paleo diet and just want a yummy nutrition bar, give these Homemade Nut and Honey bars or Protein Bars a try.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. Do you have any nutrition bar recipes? I would love to hear from you!

 

 

Paleo Green Goddess Dip

Paleo Green Goddess Dip

One of the tenets of the Paleo diet is bidding farewell to commercially prepared salad dressings. This is particularly sad for me because I eat a salad everyday and I love the Bolthouse Farms Classic Ranch Yogurt Dressing. I love to dip carrots and fresh veggies in the dressing for a snack, and veggies just aren’t the same without a creamy accompaniment. My birthday is tomorrow and every year on my birthday I go to Melting Pot, which has the most delicious Green Goddess sauce. So imagine how happy I was when I came across a recipe for a paleo-friendly Green Goddess dressing in the February edition of More magazine. Of course I made a few tweaks to the recipe to make it Paleo friendly and to my liking. It was fun to make because I was able to experiment with using fresh herbs.

Green Goddess

  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp. fresh tarragon
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine everything in a food processor and blend until pureed.

It is delicious with veggies, but it’s too thick to put on a salad. Do you have ideas on other foods you can put green goddess dressing on? Chicken? Veggies? I need ideas to use the rest of my dip!

Paleo Pizza

Paleo Pizza

 

It’s week two of the Paleo Challenge and my palate is getting a little bored of chicken breasts, broccoli and spinach. I decided to kick it up a notch and attempt a recipe a saw on Paleo Grubs, with a few tweaks to meet my needs of course!

Paleo Grubs had lots of recipes for paleo pizzas made with a cauliflower crust, so I combined several of the recipes into one that I felt would deliver the most flavor while still being, “Paleo-ish”.

Many of the recipes I saw called for almond flour or coconut flour, and I really didn’t want to use any flour in the recipe. I found one that called for a cup of mozzarella cheese, but since cheese isn’t “Paleo” I didn’t want to use that much. Instead I used half the amount of cheese and used a combination of parmesan cheese and  75% reduced fat Cabot Light Cheddar. This produced an amazingly delicious, crisp and firm crust. I also know that turkey pepperoni isn’t technically “Paleo” either, but it’s certainly better than the alternative: Pizza Hut.

All in all, this pizza was absolutely delicious, grain-free, diabetic-friendly and healthier than take-out. I was skeptical over the cauliflower crust, but I actually liked this pizza better than a traditional pizza! Try it and let me know what you think:

Pepperoni Paleo Pizza

  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup 75% reduced fat Cabot Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 12 turkey pepperonis

1.Pre-heat the oven to 450

  1. Grate the cauliflower in a food processor. Make sure it is grated, not pureed.
  2. Steam cauliflower in the microwave for five minutes. Drain and squeeze out all excess water.
  3. Mix cauliflower with the 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup of the cabot cheese, egg and seasonings.
  4. Shape the pizza into a round disc on a pizza pan
  5. Bake the crust for 15 minutes
  6. Top with the tomato sauce, 1/4 cup cheese and turkey pepperoni

Broil on low for 5 minutes

Paleo Brownies

Paleo BrowniesI started a six week Paleo Challenge as part of the Cross Fit box I joined. It’s Day 6 and I’m already having significant sugar cravings. Since sugar, along with dairy, legumes, grains and artificial sweeteners are out, I have to be creative about how to satisfy my sweet tooth without breaking my diet.

I found these delish Paleo Brownies on The Healthy Foodie, and made a few tweaks. I was nervous, but they were absolutely devine! The only problem was that they were a little too good, setting the stage to overindulge. Try them and I promise you will like them!

Brownie

  •             1 ripe avocado
  •             1 cup sweet potato puree
  •             ½ cup unsweetened apple sauce (I used Trader Joes)
  •             ¼ cup date paste (Make this by pouring boiling water over dates and letting it sit for one day in the fridge. Then puree the dates and water into a paste)
  •             1 tsp vanilla extract
  •             3 eggs
  •             1/4 cup coconut flour
  •             ½ cup cocoa powder
  •             ½ tsp  salt
  •             1 tsp baking soda
  •             ½ cup pecans
  •            ½ cup unsweetened coconut (You can find these at Earth Fare)

 

Icing

  •             ¼ cup date paste (see note above)
  •             ½ cup almond butter
  •             ¼ cup cocoa powder

Blend all of the brownie ingredients together in a food processor and pour into a 8X8 square brownie pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Refrigerate for several hours, as these are definitely best cold. Top with the icing if you’d like, but I actually prefer them sans icing.

What do you think? Have you ever had avocado in a sweet treat? Do you have any paleo sweet treat recipes to share?

 

Lunch, by me! now available

Lunch, by me!Are you looking to save time, money and stress? Are you tired of rushing in the morning to pack your kid’s lunch? Do you feel that you are constantly nagging your kids to take more responsibility? Do you see dollar signs when your kids bring home their lunch box filled with the foods you lovingly packed uneaten and spoiled? Does it stress you out when you are stuck in the kitchen packing lunches instead of spending quality time with your family?

Lunch, by me! is the answer you’ve been looking for! Lunch, by me! eliminates stress, promotes healthy eating, good nutrition, independence and self-esteem by teaching children how to pack their own healthy school lunch. Lunch, by me! is filled with easy-to-prepare recipes that kids love to make, eat and share. From planning their lunch menu to going to the grocery store to cooking to packing their lunch, children are engaged in every step of the process. It’s easy for kids to use and it offers numerous benefits, including:

 

 

 

 

  • Teaches children about nutrition and reinforces math, reading and science concepts with hands-on learning
  • Saves parents time by allowing children to take responsibility for packing their own lunch
  • Saves money by elminating purchasing unwanted food
  • Elminates stress by creating a plan for the week rather than rushing to find items to pack in your child’s lunch each day
  • Illustrates how the food choices we make affect our mental, physical and social well-being
  • Encourages independence and responsibility
  • Provides easy and fun recipes that kids can prepare themselves

Lunch, by me! is designed to help you provide your child with a healthy, nutritious lunch without nagging, fighting or stress. By providing you and your child with a lunch plan, menu and shopping list, it helps you focus on what’s most important…spending time with your family.

The Lunch, by me! kit includes:

  • Lunch, by me! Write & Wipe Checklist
  • Lunch, by me! bin for the pantry
  • Lunch, by me! lunch container – Personalized with your child’s name
  • Grocery shopping list
  • Stickers of kids’ favorite foods
  • Lunch, by me! love notes

Order now on PayPal or order the eBook on the Kindle and Nook.

For a limited time you can get this entire kit for only $20. Simply email Stacy Cacciatore to order your kit today.

 

Baked Gluten Free Chicken Fingers

It’s almost back to school time, which means time to begin packing lunch again. I’m launching a brand-new product and cookbook called Lunch, by me! which is a complete toolkit for parents and children to use together to make packing a nutritious school lunch easy and fun. This is HOT off the press and I’ll share more later this week on the full product line, but in the meantime, I want to give you a sneak peak of one of the recipes in the book: Gluten-Free Chicken Fingers.

Baked Gluten-Free Chicken Fingers

Baked Gluten Free Chicken Fingers

For school lunch I like to pack my kids kabobs with the gluten-free chicken fingers, cut-up cheese sticks and grapes, threaded on a chopstick because

1 – Everything tastes better on a stick and

2 – My kids think that chicken fingers deserve their own food category

I usually make the chicken fingers for dinner the night before and then cut them up in the morning for the kabobs.

Cook once = eat twice = WIN!

I saw a recipe for Betty Crocker’s gluten-free chicken fingers , but I wasn’t a huge fan because her recipe used Gluten-Free Bisquick which doesn’t offer the crunch or flavor of typical chicken fingers. Instead, I used gluten-free panko, which you can find at Earth Fare or Whole Foods.

Baked Gluten-Free Chicken Fingers

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins
  • 1 cup fat-free buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp. Frank’s Red Hot
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup garbonzo bean flour
  • 1 cup crushed gluten-free panko flakes

1. Combine the buttermilk and hot sauce in a large bowl and soak the chicken tenderloins for several hours in the refridgerator.

2. Mix the garbonzo bean flour and spices and spread onto a large plate. Pour the gluten-free panko flakes in a large Ziploc bag.

3. One at a time, remove a chicken tenderloin from the buttermilk mixture. Dip into the garbonzo bean flour mixture on the plate, then dip back into the buttermilk, then place in the bag of gluten-free panko flakes and shake vigously (kids love to help with this step.)

4. Spray a 9X14 inch glass baking dish with Trader Joes Olive Oil Spray and place the chicken fingers one at a time in the dish. Bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes.

These are absolutely delish! My hubby and kids LOVED them for dinner and the kiddos had them the next day in their lunch. They even begged for them again for an afterschool snack!

Try them and let me know what you think.

Healthy Crab Cake Recipe

IMG_4662I’m trying to drop a few pounds after completing losing my mind and eating everything in site indulging a bit in Boston last week, so I’m trying to up my protein intake.

Partner that with my love of seafood and exposure to the most delicious array of crab dishes in Boston and I just knew I had to whip up some healthy crab cakes.

Crab cakes aren’t inherently healthy. Typical crab cakes are filled with mayonnaise, butter and bread and are fried in oil. I lightened mine up with minimal effort and I think they are even more delish than their oil-laden cousin.

Give them a try and let me know what you think. They whip up in minutes and are simply delish.

 

 

 

 

Recipe

  • 1 ½ Tbsp. fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup whole-wheat panko (in crab cake)
  • 1 lb. lump crabmeat
  • ½ cup whole-wheat panko (for coating)

 

Preparation

 

1. To prepare crab cakes, add all ingredients, except for ½ cup whole-wheat panko. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

 

2. Remove from fridge and form into patties. Pour whole-wheat panko on paper plate and lightly coat crab cake in panko on both sides.

 

3. Place on baking sheet in a 350 degree oven. Bake for 10 minutes, flip and bake for an additional 8 minutes.

Want to lose weight? When money’s on the line, you will look fine!

dietbetAfter having a wonderful kid-less long weekend in Boston with my hubby, I returned refreshed, rejuvenated and 10 lbs. heavier. What in the world? How can that happen in only a few days? Sure, I indulged a bit, but we walked a lot and I tried to have healthy breakfast and lunch to make up for my indulgences. How can a few pastries, crab and lobster ravioli and pasta dishes derail me that much?

Well, it’s time to get back on the stick, so when I got home and saw the message from Cassey with Blogilates on her #blogilatesbet challenge on DietBet, I was in!  Dietbet is an online social diet challenge game. It is really simple. You can choose an amount of money to bet on your weight loss and you have 4 weeks to lose 4% of your bodyweight. You play with friends and after 4 weeks, if you meet your goal, you can spilt the pot with the other winners. Why do this? Research shows that dieters are more likely to lose weight when money is on the line.

I’ve really tightened the belt on my diet this week and kept up with my already rigorous exercise schedule. I’ve planned out my meals for the week which include several mini meals throughout the day that include a lot of protein, fresh veggies, some fruit and grains. I made some delish healthy crab cakes tonight that were completely guilt-free. They tasted so good, it’s hard to believe they were healthy. I’ll share the recipe with you tomorrow.

Do you want to join me in the #blogilatesbet challenge? If so, comment on this post and provide your name as it appears on Facebook. I’ll send you the special link through Facebook so you can get in on our challenge. The best part is that since it is with the blogilates group, our pot is huge and growing larger by the day! Right now there is $141, 425 in the pot!

I’d love for you to join me! I will share my meal plans, exercise schedule and recipes, as well as my progress on Five a Day the Fun Way. I’ve only been following my plan for two days and I’ve already dropped some weight, my hunger has decreased and I feel great.

So if you’ve been looking to drop a few, come join me in the challenge! We can do this together!

Kale, White Bean, Apple Sausage and Zucchini Ragout Recipe

DSC_0256

Looking for a way to eat your greens that not only pleases your palate, but satisfies even the pickiest of eaters? Look no further than this delish ragout that is chock full of healthy vegetables, tasty sausage and creamy fiber-filled beans.

I recently signed up for Backyard Produce, which is a weekly service that delivers fresh, local, organic produce straight to your door. You can either customize your basket by selecting each food your receive or select the variety basket which is full of that week’s best selections.

This week I chose kale, tomatoes, zucchini because I’m trying to eat more organic produce. When I came home and saw my box of fresh veggies on my porch, I was as excited as if it was my birthday! But then I quickly began racking my brain at how I could use up this produce in a way that was tasty and would lure my kids into eating it too.

Imagine my elation when I saw this recipe on Cooking Light for a Kale, white bean, zucchini, tomato and apple sausage ragout. It was chock-full of veggies and I had every ingredient in my pantry – score!

It was super simple to make and the flavors married beautifully. I was concerned because my past experiences with kale haven’t been great. Aside from kale chips, I don’t really like the flavor of kale. It is a bit too tough for a salad, too bitter to eat raw and doesn’t blend well in pasta or casseroles.

But kale is truly a super food and definitely worth giving another try. Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and has 0 grams of fat. It is high in iron, vitamin K, A, C and calcium. It’s also brimming with antioxidants. I tweaked the Cooking Light recipe a bit to meet my needs, such as using minced garlic instead of whole, eliminating the olive oil and onion and adding fresh tomato instead of canned.

Kale, White Bean, Apple Sausage and Zucchini Ragout

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 (4-ounce) links chicken sausage, cut into (1/2-inch) slices – I used Thin n Trim Apple Cinnamon Sausage
  • 1 zucchini, quartered and cut into (1/2-inch) slices (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 6 cups chopped trimmed kale (about 1/2 pound)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. Brown sausage in a large saute pan and add garlic. Add zucchini and kale; cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, beans and water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately.

Shocking mistreatment of special needs child

DSC_0353I wish that my nephew had a visible disability.

 

I know that sounds terrible and many of you will disagree with me. But, if he were in a wheelchair, wore leg braces or required a feeding tube, others would be able to see his disability. Cullen’s disability isn’t obvious. When you look at him you can’t tell anything is wrong at all.

 

Cullen is a smiling, happy, beautiful boy with blond hair and brown eyes. He loves Mickey Mouse more than anything in the world. He loves cookies, splashing in the water and running freely through the Pisgah Forest.

 

He also has autism.

 

This weekend I had the privilege of spending time with my mom, sister and nephews in Pisgah Forest, NC. I was utterly shocked and appalled at the way people treated my nephew.

 

We stayed at a hotel in Pisgah Forest, NC. We stay there every time we visit, which is about four times a year.

 

This hotel offers a complimentary continental breakfast for all guests. Except for those with autism apparently.

 

We all were excited to eat breakfast together and plan the day ahead of us. While we were enjoying our Belgian waffle and yogurt the manager approached our table and asked us to take Cullen outside of the hotel because his voice was too loud and he may disturb other guests.

 

Did I mention it was sleeting?

 

So while I ran back up to the room to gather our belongings, my sister sat outside of the hotel in the freezing rain, crying and holding her little boy while trying to corral four other children to sit and be as quiet as possible until we could leave.

 

I find this completely unacceptable. Would you tell someone in a wheelchair that they had to leave the restaurant because their wheelchair took up too much room? Would you tell a parent of a child with a feeding tube that you have to feed him outside because it will disturb other guests?

 

Cullen is 3 ½ but because of his disability he can’t communicate like other 3 year olds. He communicates with sign language, gestures, vocalizing (making sounds with different tones) and speaking a few words. His communication challenges are two-way, so not only does he struggle with telling us what he needs, he also can’t understand us. He doesn’t understand two-step directions and definitely doesn’t understand behavior expectations. As you can imagine, he gets frustrated when others don’t understand him. When he gets frustrated, he cries. He is extremely smart, but it’s as if he’s trapped in a world in which we processes and communicates differently from us, so he can’t let us know what he thinks and feels.

 

I wish I could say that the experience at the hotel was isolated, but it wasn’t. Everywhere we went that weekend we experienced discrimination based on his disability. The teenager who worked in the bakery asked us to leave. The guys who worked at the deli whispered criticisms of him to each other and rolled their eyes when I asked if there was room to dine-in. The owner of the chocolate shop said, “oh great,” when we walked in and said to her employee, “is he wearing a diaper? I think I can smell him from here.” Even the elderly lady in the children’s consignment shop said to a co-worker, “can she not control her child?” Everywhere we went others rolled their eyes, whispered to each other as we walked by and were disrespectful.

 

Yes, his voice is loud. Yes, the vocalizing can be distracting. But he has a disability. Do we have no tolerance in this country for others who have special needs?

 

Autism is a spectrum disorder. This means that there is a wide range of what autism looks like. Just because someone doesn’t fit into a stereotypical box of what a disability should look or sound like doesn’t mean that they don’t have a disability. Since autism is a spectrum disorder, it varies greatly from person to person.

 

Chances are that you or your child will encounter someone with autism as the rate of autism has grown significantly over the past twenty years. Autism affects 1 in 88 children and is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.

 

Those with autism have the right to be respected and receive equal treatment. Autistic children shouldn’t have to grow up in an environment constantly being told that their instinctive behaviors are wrong and feel that they can’t be accepted for who they are.

 

In honor of autism awareness month I’d like to ask you to please take a moment before criticizing the behavior of a child or perceived lack of discipline of a parent. The little girl in the grocery store may be experiencing sensory overload. The boy in the toy store may have been triggered by too bright of lights. The child in the hotel may have been trying to communicate his joy at spending time with his cousins. Please help do your part to make every child feel respected and accepted.

For more information on autism, visit:

Autism Speaks 

Light it up Blue

Organization for Autism Research