Dessert for Dinner? April Fool’s!

DSC_0211Looking for a fun, healthy way to trick your kids on April Fool’s Day? Look no further than these “cupcakes” you can serve for dinner! Fool your kids not only by serving “dessert” for dinner, but hide veggies inside this delicious meat loaf for a trick that’s a real treat!

 

I’m typically not a fan of hiding veggies in my kids food because I want them to grow to love the taste of fresh fruits and vegetables, but I make an excpetion with meatloaf. Meatloaf is the perfect dish to enhance the nutrition, taste and moistness by adding pureed carrots, grated zucchini and wheat germ.

This is the best meatloaf you’ve ever sink your teeth into. The grated zucchini adds moisture without added fat and the wheat germ is a perfectsubstitute for breadcrumbs, which typically contain enriched wheat flour and salt.

April Fool’s Day Meatloaf Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Extra Lean Beef
  • 1 small zucchini, grated
  • 1/2 cup carrots, cooked and pureed
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko
  • 1/2 cup sugar-free ketchup (available at Earth Fare)
  • 2 Tbsp Worchestire Sauce
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350

Put ground beef in a big bowl. Add grated zucchini, pureed carrots, ketchup, worchestire, garlic and egg in the bowl and mix with your hands. Add wheat germ, whole-wheat panko, garlic, salt and pepper, mix until combined being careful not to overmix. Use an ice cream scoop to help you fill the meat into a muffin tin. Each cupcake tin should hold 1/2 cup of meat mixture. Top each meatloaf with a spoonful of ketchup on top. Bake 20 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the mashed potatoes:

Mashed Potatoes

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes

1/2 cup skim milk

1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

salt and pepper

 

India Tree Natuaral Decorating Colors

 

Boil potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash by hand with milk using a potato masher (don’t use a food processor or they get too gluey.) Add Greek yogurt and stir gently. Add the all-natural food decorating color. India Tree makes a great all natural food decorating set that doesn’t contain any harmful dyes. Check out this great article on the safety of food coloring for children for more information on all-natural food coloring.

Dollop the mashed potatoes onto of the meatloaf cupcake and swirl to make it look like a cupcake. I even added an edible “My Love” heart, which I got from Williams-Sonoma.

My daughter took a big bite of the faux cupcake and then got a big smile on her face when she saw it was ac

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tually meatloaf. She loved it and had no idea it was actually filled with veggies. Double April Fools!

Do you do anything fun for April Fools Day? Do you hide veggies in your kids food?

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

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pantry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 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

 

Directions

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?

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
Frosting
  • 1 small package neufchatel cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. King Arthur Green Natural Food Color

Directions:

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.

Light Mickey Mouse Gingerbread Cookies

We made Gingerbread cookies and of course we did it in complete Disney style with Mickey Mouse gingerbread cookies. You know my theory, everything thing tastes better when shaped like the mouse.

Christmas is a time for spending time with the family and baking. What better way to combine both by baking cookies with your kids. I have a few tips for making the process go as smoothly as possible when bringing kids in the kitchen.

Wash hands first and frequently!

 

I always tell my kids that the number one rule in the kitchen is to make sure you wash your hands before you do anything. Kitchen safety is important and I’ve engrained in my kids that the sink is the first stop they must take before doing anything with food.

Pre-measure

I sent my kids to the playroom while I pre-measured everything and put into little bowls. This ensured that they still got to pour and mix, but without the mess and confusion of measuring ingredients.

Assign jobs

To lessen the chance of fighting and to make sure everyone is included, I assign jobs for mixing, pouring, rolling and cutting. Inevitablly my kisd will fight over who gets to add the flour or who gets to man the mixer, so I divvy up jobs in the beginning to ward off fights.

Set up stations

Their favorite part of making cookies is cutting out the shapes and decorating, but workstations can get crowded fast and fights can ensue over who got to use the cookie cutter last (notice a theme with fighting?) I give each kid a cutting board, rolling pin and set of cookie cutters so they can each roll out their own dough and cut out shapes.

Know your place

Make sure you stand nearby during the process and handle all use of the oven and appliances. Safety comes first in the kitchen and while your child may think he’s grown up enough to put the pan in the oven, it is best to leave the hot stuff to the parents.

Try out this recipe for light gingerbread cookies and let me know how they turn out. I’d love to hear what you think! As always, for more light sweet treats, check out my book Guilt-Free Cupcakes: Indulge without the Bulge now available on iBooks, Kindle, Nook and e-books.

Light Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

  • ¾ cup light butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar Splenda
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup molasses
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp salt

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and molasses stirring well. In a separate bowl, mix flours with spices and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet, being careful not to overmix. Roll dough out to ¼-inch thickness and use cookie cutters to cut out the dough. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes.

Don’t be scared – These Pumpkin Halloween Cookies won’t give you a Calorie Fright!

Halloween is in only six days, which means six spooky days of Halloween treats and goodies!

I will post six healthy Halloween recipes, one each day until Halloween! Also, don’t forget to buy Guilt-Free Cupcakes: Indulge without the bulge for more healthy Halloween recipes! You can buy the book for only $3.99 on the Kindle or download as an ebook directly on my website! Just click “Add to my cart” in the right column!  It will also be available in the iBook store and Nook next week!

 

Halloween can be a scary time, not just because of ghosts and goblins, but also because of the calories in your favorite holiday goodies!

 

I read an article today on SparkPeople that called out the top five surprisingly high calories Halloween treats.

 

I knew that fun sized candy bars weren’t exactly “fun” for the waistline and that candy apples aren’t considered a health food, but to find out that the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte has 410 calories – that is enough to make me scream in fright! If I am going to consume over 400 calories, it better be in the form of a hot fudge brownie sundae!

 

Pumpkin breads, cookies and scones also made the list, but I have an easy solution to that problem….make your own!

 

I made my own recipe for a chocolate chip pumpkin cookie and they are not only delicious, but healthy too! These cookies are chockfull of pumpkin, which provides antioxidants, vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids. One cup of pumpkin has only 26 calories, but has 246 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin A, 1 gram of protein and 1 gram of fiber. Pumpkin is also an excellent source of zeaxanthin, which is an antioxidant that helps the eyes. Pumpkin is also rich in minerals, including copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.

 

I recently joined Weight Watchers and I created this recipe in the “My Recipe” builder tool and calculated only 3 points per serving! Not too bad for a deliciously decadent cookie!

 

Stacy’s Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Cookies

 

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Sucanat
  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 15-oz. can pumpkin
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • ½ cup walnuts

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line with silpat.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt in medium bowl. Beat sugar and Greek yogurt in large mixer bowl until well blended. Beat in egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Add pumpkin and mix until just combined. Gradually beat in flour mixture, being careful not to over mix. Gently stir in chocolate chunks and walnuts.
  3. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes.

 

Let me know if you try these and if you like them!