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?

 

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.

Kale, White Bean, Apple Sausage and Zucchini Ragout Recipe

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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.

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?

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

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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!

 

 

 

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  • 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.

Yum-o!

Let me know if you try it and like it!