Hoppy Healthy Easter!

DSC_0230I can’t believe Easter is this Sunday! I feel completely unprepared, as the month of March has flown by!

The typical Easter treats are filled with artificial food coloring, artificial flavorings, sugar and fat. While I’ll let my kids indulge in some of these treats in moderation (what’s Easter without Bunny Big Ears?) I also like to make healthier alternatives that taste just as good as they look.

Yesterday I made my own trail mix bars shaped like Easter bunnies, which was a special surprise for my kids as they celebrated their last day of school before Spring Break!






These bars contain a variety of ingredients I found in my pantry, including whole-grain oats, nuts, sunflower seeds, raisins and dried apples. You can vary the ingredients based on what you have lying around. These bars are a great way to use up the leftover bits and pieces of ingredients you have to clean out your












  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • handful dried apples, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup Better ‘n Peanut Butter



1. Preheat the oven to 350

2. Mix together all of the dry ingredients.

3. Melt the honey and Better ‘n Peanut Butter in a bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds.

4. Pour honey mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well. Add egg and vanilla extract.

5. Pour mixture into 15X10X1 jelly roll pan or into a Bunny Whoopie Pie Pan (available via Wilton)DSC_0223

6. Bake for 20 minutes (if jelly roll pan) less if you are using a smaller whoopie pie pan

7. Cut into bars and freeze.

8. Decorate the frozen bars if you’d like or just serve plain! You can make your own healthy cool whip. There is a great recipe on Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures. Simply combine 1 cup milk, 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp xanthan gum. Mix in a mixer on high for two minutes. Spread over the bars and decorate as you’d like.


This is a much healthier alternative to store-bought bars or the typical Easter treats!

Just one serving of jelly beans (35 pieces) has 140 calories and 28 grams of sugar, which is more than the entire Recommended Daily Value of sugar. Peeps may be fat-free, but one serving has a whopping 34 grams of sugar! More disturbing than the sugar is the ingredients in Starburst Jely Beans (obrained from www.foodfacts.com) includes: Sugar, Corn Syrup, Food Starch Modified Apple(s) Juice from Concentrate, Citric Acid, Confectioner’s Glaze, Acacia Gum, Natural and Artificial Coloring (Yellow 5, Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 1)

Do you make your own healthier Easter treats? What are your favorite Easter indulgences?

Guilt-free maple roasted banana ice cream: dairy, gluten and fat free!


I love ice cream. I could literally eat an entire half gallon of Edy’s Girl Scout Cookie Samoas Ice Cream. Ice cream is one of my “trigger foods” and I can’t keep it in the house because it will call my name until it’s gone.


Luckily I’ve created a healthier alternative using only four ingredients! Bananas, real maple syrup, vanilla extract and unsweetened vanilla almond milk.


I was happy to see that Oxygen Magazineactually featured a banana ice cream in the March edition. They actually have a Mocha Banana Ice Cream which I’m also going to try. I made my roasted banana ice cream last week and was pleasantly surprised at the creamy, rich flavor. The bonus is that this recipe is dairy, gluten and fat free! Give it a try and let me know what you think!





  • 3 medium-sized bananas
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 400.
  • Peel and slice the bananas. I actually peel, slice and freeze my bananas in advance because I love to have frozen banans on hand (they are a delicious snack on their own).
  • Throw the bananas in a glass baking dish, pour maple syrup on top and roast for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and let cool (i can neither confirm nor deny eating a few bananas covered in maple syrup straight from the pan)
  • Scoop the roasted bananas, almond milk and vanilla extract into a food processort and pulse until combined. Chill for at least two hours.
  • Dump into your ice cream maker and make per manufacturer’s instructions.


Let me know if you try it and like it!

Healthy Girl Scout Samoas with NO added sugar, flour or dairy

DSC_0134I love Girl Scout Cookies. I’ve loved them since I was a little brownie pushing boxes of coco-nutty Samoas®, peanut buttery tagalongs and minty thin mints. Now I’m the leader of my own little Daisy’s troop, which means that I’m surrounded by their deliciousness and I MUST buy a box (or 100)

Which call my name.

As much as I love Girl Scout cookies, I can’t eat them everyday. I wanted to come up with a sugar-free version of my absolute favorite: Samoa.

Can’t be done?

After experimenting in the kitchen, I re-created a version that delivers all the chocolate and coconutty goodness without a drop of added sugar.

How did I do it? I’m about to tell you the secret.

First, I had read about combining processed chickpeas and dates soaked overnight in the Chocolate Covered Katie Blog. She has some amazing recipes, so I encourage you to check her out. When I first read about the chocolate chip cookie dough dip with beans and dates, I thought it sounded disgusting! But I was too curious, so I gave it a shot and I PROMISE you, it is delicious! It got me thinking of other ways I could incoporate this technique.

So I came up with these healthy samoas. They are vegan, and contain no added sugar, flour, oil, food dyes or preservatives.

DSC_0156Stacy’s Sugar-Free Samoas

  • 1 1/4 cups cooked, drained chickpeas (do not use canned! they have a different flavor and won’t turn out a swell. Soak your chickpeas overnight in water, then cook the entire next day in the slow cooker. Refridgerate overnight and then you can puree them in this recipe)
  • 1 1/4 cups soaked dates with liquid (soak 1 1/4 cups of dates in 1/4 cup water overnight)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Artisana Cocoa Bliss Organic Raw Coconut Butter
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp oats
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar-free coconut flakes (I bought mine at Earth Fare, but you can also find at Whole Foods and on Amazon)

Using your food processor or Vitamix, puree the chickpeas completely. Add the dates with water to the mixture and puree for a full minute. Add the vanilla extract, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder and oats. Process until combined. Add only as much almond milk as you need to reach the desired consistency. I added 2 Tbsp., you may need a bit more or less. Remove from processor and stir in coconut flakes. Sprinkle with coconut and serve! These taste best after they’ve been refriderated for a few hours to harden.

Voila! Girl Scout Samoa cookies with NO added sugar, NO added oil, NO flour and they’re are good for you! They are also super easy to make and require NO cooking! What more could you ask for?

If you are looking for more sugar-free, flour-free recipes, check out my recipe for my oatmeal cookies. They are delish and don’t contain an ounce of added sugar!

Please try them and let me know what you think!

Fresh Strawberry Cake

There is something special about picking a plump, juicy red strawberry off the vine and popping it in your mouth right in the strawberry fields.








I’m lucky to have fresh strawberry fields right across from my neighborhood that allows customers to “Pick-your-own” strawberries. I bring my kids every year because I think it is important for them to understand where food comes from. Real food, food that is nutritious for our bodies, doesn’t come in a box.

We picked strawberries last weekend and made a fresh strawberry cake.





I’m a big believer that it is OK to indulge in treats occasionally, especially if you prepare something from scratch with fresh ingredients, is much better than eating pre-made, chemical-filled “faux food.” We hear messages that “butter is bad” or “don’t eat carbs,” and manufacturer’s force so-called “healthy” snacks on us like low-carb cookies, sugar-filled energy bars and low-fat chips. They are all filled with chemicals to replace the carbohydrates, sugar and fat, which does more damage to our bodies than a little butter. According to the Centers for Disease Control obesity rates are two times higher today than in the 1970s. What’s interesting is that today we have more “fat-free,” “low-fat,” “low-carb,” “gluten-free” foods than ever, but we are geting fatter. Back in the 1970s cooking with butter was common, but so were homemade meals.

Get back to the basics by making this delicious, fresh strawberry cake for your family. I modified this recipe, which was in the April issue of Southern Living Magazine.

Fresh Strawberry Cake

This is a three part cake, so it take a bit of time to make. First, you will want to make the cake layers.

Cake Layer:

  • 1 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 1/4 cup sugar
  • 7 egg whites
  • 3 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Mix the Greek yogurt with the sugar first, then add the egg whites, beating well with an electric mixter after each egg white. Mix the flour and baking powder seperately, then add to the wet mixture. Add one cup of water and almond extracts. Mix well, then pour into four 8-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350 for 22 minutes.

While your cakes are cooking, prepare the strawberry mousse.

Strawberry Mousse

  • 1 envelope gelatin
  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup whipping cream
Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup water in a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Using a food processor, combine strawberries and sugar. Transfer strawberry mixture to a small pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add gelatin mixture. Stir well, then cover and chill for 30 minutes.
Beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into strawberry mixture until blended well. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
While the mousse is chilling, prepare the strawberry frosting.
Strawberry Frosting
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cups strawberries (finely chopped)
Cream butter and powdered sugar together in an electric mixter. Add strawberries and beat at a low speed until just combined.
Now it’s time to bring it all together!
When the cake layers are cooled, spread a layer of strawberry mousse over each layer and stack four cakes high. C
over and chill for three hours, or until mousse is set.
Remove from fridge and spread frosting on the top and sides of the cake.
This cake takes a while to make, but is incredibly delicious!

Little Ones Magazine – Tips for Walt Disney World

I’m so excited that I’m featured in Little Ones Magazine this month with tips on planning a magical vacation to Walt Disney World! If you get a chance, please head on over to Little Ones Magazine to check out the article online or pick up a copy for FREE at your local grocery store, library or newsstand.

I am honored to be a part of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel and help families plan their trip to Walt Disney World! It is truly the most magical place on earth and there are so many special ways to enjoy quality family time while visiting Disney. The best part is that there is something for everyone to experience, whether your kids are babies, toddlers, big kids, teenagers or adults. It is a vacation that the entire family to enjoy! I’ve been every single year, and three times this past year, since my kids were toddlers and we find something new to experience each time we visit! I’ll be visiting Disney for my 9th time this September for the Tower of Terror run and the 10th time with my family over Thanksgiving Break this year.

Are you on a budget? You can visit Walt Disney World on a shoestring budget and still have an amazing time. Do you like to run? runDisney has many events throughout the year so you can partner a race with a family vacation! Are you a foodie? Come during the Wine and Dine Festival to enjoy delicious foods from countries around the world while exploring Epcot. There is truly something for everyone!

Please come visit me at the Walt Disney World Moms Panel to ask me any of your questions about Walt Disney World! It is my pleasure to help! You can ask me a question directly by clicking on “Meet the Moms” then scroll down to “Stacy C.” Then just click on “Ask Stacy a Question.” Please come visit me today!


Walmart’s new “Great for you” initiative: More harm than good?

Walmart recently annouced that they are going to launch a new campaign to label “healthy” foods with the words “Great for You” to help consumers easily identify foods that are “good” for them. At first glance, this seems like a great program. Walmart is working on lowering the price of fruits and vegetables, which is wonderful. Despite what others say, it is more expensive to eat healthy. You can go to McDonalds and buy dinner for a family of four for under $10, but it is extremely difficult to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, whole-grains and lean protein for a healthy dinner for that same price. Walmart is also working with suppliers to lower sodium and sugar in their products, which is also excellent.

However, according to the New York Times article, Walmart also “has worked with suppliers to cut the costs of items like reduced-fat peanut butter and fat-free salad dressing.” 

That is what concerns me.

Reduced-fat peanut butter is NOT healthy. In fact, reduced fat peanut butter is worse for you than full-fat, but natural, peanut better. Manufacturers make reduced-fat peanut butter by removing the healthy fats from the peanuts, and replacing it with corn syrup, thereby raising the sugar and carbohydrates in the product. Cooking Light magazine recently ran a piece on “10 Foods That Sound Healthy But Aren’t” which included reduced-fat peanut butter. Their nutrition expert, Katherine Brooking, MS RD, advised to review the labels on all peanut butter to ensure added sugar  and oil isn’t on the list. She touted the benefits of the monosaturated fat in the peanuts and said that best case scenrio is actually grinding your own peanuts to make natural peanut butter. If you can’t do this, than finding a natural brand, such as Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter, is your next best source.

Fat-free salad dressings are also not exactly “healthy.” Manufacturers have to replace the fat with something, so these products are often higher in sugar and sodium. Check out this article on Livestrong which compares the labels on fat-free and full-fat ranch dressing. The fat-free version only has 119 calories per serving, but 27 grams of carbohydrates. The full-fat version has 484 calories, but only 7 grams of carbohydrates. Neither one is a nutritional winner.You are much better off making your own with heart-healthy olive oil and lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. It’s also been shown that the fats in salad dressing help your body absorb vitamin E and other important vitamins and nutrients. Check out this great article by Fooducate for more information on finding a healthy salad dressing.

But what worries me the most is that Walmart will begin slapping the “Great for you” label on processed foods that are labled “low-fat,” “light,” or “gluten-free,” and provide consumers will a false sense of security on their snack choices. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends a diet that  consists mainly of vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, lean protein, healthy fats and water.

Eating junk food, even if it is labled “low-fat,” is not healthy and won’t improve the obesity epidemic in this country. In fact, researchers have discovered the “halo effect,” which is when people eat more of a food that they consider “healthy” because they think it is good for them. This means that eating foods with a “Great for you” label could ultimately lead to consumers actually eating MORE and gaining more weight because they will think that a diet loaded with whole wheat crackers, reduced fat chips and gluten-free cookies is good for them. But a chip is still a chip, even if it has 10 fewer calories per serving. Check out this article by Psychology Today on the Halo Effect.

So what do you think? Do you think that the new “Great for you” program at Walmart will do more harm than good? Do you think that Walmart’s effort will actually help reduce the obesity epidemic? I want to hear from you!

Middle School Memories

Smoking behind the school gym in between classes, scarfing down pizza at lunch in between celery-only crash diets and spending spare cash on the McRib and doughnuts. Ahhh, the memories from middle school. Not exactly a picture of heath, eh?

My best friend and I once saved up our money from babysitting and then walked to Winn Dixie (do I get credit for walking to Winn-Dixie instead of catching a ride?) to spend all of our hard-earned money on a junk food extravaganza. We bought Ding-Dongs, canned spray cheese, Lay’s potato chips, frosting and bags of M&M’s and then spent the entire night playing Mall Madness and gorging ourselves. “Tomorrow I’m starting the cabbage soup diet,” I said in between mouthfuls of frosting and spraying my mouth with processed cheese, straight from the can.

It’s not as if my mom deprived me of candy or sweet treats, so I’m not quite sure what fueled my junk food extravaganza other than having newfound financial freedom.

I don’t miss much about middle school, but occasionally, I wouldn’t mind having the freedom from worrying about the food I eat from both a health and calorie perspective. So, as an ode to my middle school days, I’ve re-created the Ding-Dong, Five a Day the Fun Way style, with whole-wheat flour, Greek yogurt and less calories and fat.

I’m sure it’s not as good as the chemical-filled, high-fructose corn syrup doused, waxy ding-dong from the past, but it may just hit that sweet spot. Plus, this version won’t have your sweetie singing “I like big butts.” So “Walk this Way” in the kitchen and “Bust a Move,” by making these light Ding-Dongs.

Light Ding Dong’s

1 box Non Pudge brownie mix

2/3 cup Greek yogurt

1 tsp. vanilla extract


1 container fat-free Cool Whip


1 80% or darker dark chocolate bar

1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter


1. Pre-heat oven to 350.

2. Mix No Pudge brownies with nonfat Greek yogurt and vanilla extract until shiny. Pour into 8X8 square pan and bake for 30 minutes.

3. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

4. Cut circles from brownie square with circle cookie cutter.

5. Fill frosting bag with fat-free cool whip and pipe into center of brownie

6. Meanwhile, melt chocolate with peanut butter in microwave.

7. Dip the brownie into the melted chocolate.

Not quite a “diet food” but certainly more healthy than the trans-fat filled ding-dong of the past.

What is your favorite treat from the old days? What kind of junk did you eat in middle school? Please share your middle school memories!



How to make delicious cupcakes that are actually GOOD for you!

This year for St. Patrick’s Day I volunteered to bring in green cupcakes to my daughter’s class. I love making fun food for kids, but I don’t love the negative side effects of food dye on children’s behavior. Many studies have shown that children are particularly susceptible to the effects of food dyes, especially those with ADHD and ADD. Add white sugar, white flour and food dye to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster.It seems that the United States is behind on the issue of elminating artificial food dye in packaged foods. The Center for Science in the Public Interest group recently posted an article about the actions that the British and European government have taken on ending the use of food dyes throughout Europe. Evident to this change is the difference between the Kellog’s Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars made in the United States compared to the same exact product in Britain. The bars made in United States contain red number 40, yellow number 6 and blue number 1 dyes. The bars produced in Britain use beetroot red, annatto and paprika extract to color the bars.

The Food and Drug Administration is trying to implement a ban on several food dyes. Review this list from NPR to see the food dyes under scrutiny.

I love my daughter’s teachers too much to subject them to a room full of hyper kids for the day, so I made natural green cupcakes, using spinach to dye the cupcakes green. By using whole-wheat flour, applesauce and spinach to make these cupcakes, I transformed a recipe for diaster into a fairly healthy mid-day treat.

I asked the teachers to let me know how the kids liked them, and everyone of the kids gobbled them up! They had no clue that they were getting a serving of healthy veggies in their treat. Make these for your kids and let me know if they like them. If you would like more guilt-free, vegan, low-calorie or healthy cupcakes, check out my NEW book, Guilt-Free Cupcakes: Indulge without the bulge that is available now! It just hit Amazon today and it is available in print or on the Kindle.

Top of the morning to ya Spinach Cupcakes

  • 2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cups Splenda Sugar Blend
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dried milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1 small package neufchatel cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. King Arthur Green Natural Food Color


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line mini-muffin tin with mini liners.

2.Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

3.Puree the applesauce and spinach in a food processor and pulse until combined. Make in batches to ensure the spinach is completely pureed.

4. Mix  spinach mixture and vanilla into the flour mixture by hand. Place spoonful of batter in each muffin tin.

5.Bake for 10 minutes.

6. Meanwhile make frosting by combining neufchatel cheese with powdered sugar, natural food color and vanilla extract in a food processor.

7. Let them cool completely, then frost.

Drop pounds with protein

I’m fed up with these stubborn last pounds that refuse to budge. I’ve tried working out twice a day, slashing calories, cutting out sugar…they still hang on to my thighs like fleas on a dog. I visited a dietician last week who told me to try eating more protein and slashing carbs.

If you are a reader of my blog, you know that I’m a huge proponent of focusing on what you CAN have and not what you CAN’T. So, I decided to try to incorporate more protein at every meal. I did a bit of research to better understand how this works. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that participants in a recent study felt more satisfaction, less hunger and experienced more weight loss when they followed a diet of 30 percent protein, 50 percent carbohydrates and 20 percent fat. This seems reasonable, right? According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the average American’s diet is comprised of 15 percent protein. This means if you eat like the average American, you’ll need to double up your protein intake.

It’s a lot better than Atkins or other high protein diets that ban carbs altogether. But, how much protein do you need? If you are eating a 1,500 calorie diet, you will want 450 calories from protein, 750 calories from carbohydrates and 300 calories from fat. This is not only pretty easy to do, but it will result in greater satisfaction than a diet higher in carbohydrates and lower in fat. A diet high in protein can increase your metabolism, keep hunger at bay and has a natural diuretic effect. Research also shows that the amount of quality protein directly results in increasing your metabolic rate, increasing weight loss, improving muscle fitness, enchanting insulin and leptin function and reducing the risk of diabetes. Sign me up!

But not all protein is created equally. Fish and poultry are the best sources of animal protein, while beans and nuts are the best vegetarian sources. A report on cancer prevention recommends less than 18 ounces of week of red meat and abstinence from processed meat (such as hot dogs and ham) to lower the risk of colon cancer. This same report showed that red meat consumption is directly correlated with elevated risk for cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
My dietician also recommended whey protein powder as a supplement to help increase my protein intake. I make a protein shake every morning with whey protein powder, spinach and frozen fruit to start the day with 30 grams of protein. I personally like the Unjury chocolate whey protein powder because it tastes great and has low sugar, low calories and a hefty amount of protein. Whey protein can enhance athletic performance, build strength and result in greater weight loss than diet and exercise alone. Just watch out for the whey protein powders and bars that have a high amount of sugar. Many of the commercial  protein bars are loaded with sugar and other unnecessary ingredients which negate the positive effects of the protein powder. I decided to make my own protein bars to ensure that I was only getting the best ingredients and not a bunch of added junk. Give these bars a try and let me know what you think!
Stacy’s Yummy Homemade Protein Bars
  • 3 scoops Unjury chocolate whey protein powder
  • 2 Tbsp. Trader Joes Blueberry Flax Seed
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup agave syrup
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanila extract
  • 1 1/2 cups museli
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chunks
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
Mix museli, protein powder, flax seeds, coconut, cherries and almonds together, toss lightly to coat. Add mashed banana, agave syrup, peanut butter and vanilla extract in the bowl and mix well. Add cherries and stir lightly to combine. Spread mixture in 9X12 baking dish covered in plastic wrap. Refriderate until firm. Cut into 15 bars and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the freezer for up to a month.

Warning: Don’t eat the office lunch

Welcome to week two of the “Weight Loss Wednesdays” edition of Five a Day the Fun Way.

This Wednesday I’m exploring how you can keep your weight in check when you are bombarded by unhealthy foods and you have no control over the choices available to you. I was in an all-day offsite for work yesterday and our food was catered in. Pastries filled with cream cheese and jam for breakfast, fried chicken parmesan and cheesy pasta for lunch and popcorn, brownies and cookies for an afternoon snack.

What is a girl to do?

Check out my latest post on Working Mother magazine, “Warning: Don’t Eat the Office Lunch” for three easy tips.

I’d also love to hear from you! What do you do when faced with unhealthy choices? How do you avoid the break-room sugar haven?