Homemade Chocolate Popsicles

Every week when I plan and prepare my meals for the week, I try to do one thing new.  Before starting my Clean Eating lifestyle, I used to eat one sugar free fudge pop a day.  I now know that although it is only 20 calories, it is probably not the healthiest choice.  But I have been missing that little treat at night. So I decided to make my own.

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So I set out on Pinterest to find a recipe and found this Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Banana Yogurt Pop

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond milk or milk of choice
  • 3/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 large ripe bananas
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon raw or organic honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

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  • Pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze for 30 minutes before inserting the popsicle sticks.

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  • Freeze the popsicles until they are frozen solid, about 4 hours.

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I followed the instructions explicitly.  But when I tried to remove the popsicle, they would NOT come out.  So my husband gave it a try and broke the whole mold right off!

He suggested running it under water, so I gave it a try.  Just about 5 seconds under slightly luke warm water did the trick and the popsicles came right out.

Macon enjoyed his for about 3 minutes then gave it up.  Jonathan and I really enjoyed our little ice cream treat.  The flavor was good but it did taste a little more yogurt-y than chocolate-y so I may need to adjust the amounts of some of the ingredients next time.  But all in all, this is a great replacement to my nightly fudge pop!

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Lasagna Boats

When I was searching for different recipe ideas to prepare for this week’s meals, I stumbled upon a Zucchini Lasagna Boat recipe that looked delicious.  I decided to give it a try.  We had this cleaned up and healthier comfort food for dinner last night and it was a HIT!  My husband made it a point to tell me that he thought it was delicious.

Here is my recipe for Lasagna Boats adapted from the original:

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 medium zucchini (2 1/2 lbs), sliced into halves through the length*
  • 1 cup (8.6 oz) part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 8 oz lean ground turkey
  • 4 tsp olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 3/4 cup clean tomato sauce (I used this clean 21 Day Fix Approved Tomato Sauce)

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a spoon, scoop centers from zucchini while leaving a 1/4-inch rim to create boats. Set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl stir together ricotta cheese, egg and 1 1/2 Tbsp of the parsley. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir in 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese.  The original recipe also called for 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese but I completely forgot it!.  Set aside.
  • Heat 2 tsp of the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble turkey into pan, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up when stirring, until browned. Stir in tomato sauce and ;let simmer for a few minutes, remove from heat.
  • To assemble boats, brush both sides of of zucchini lightly with remaining 2 tsp olive oil and place in two baking pans (I used a 13 by 9 and a 9 by 9). Divide cheese mixture among zucchini spooning about 2 1/2 Tbsp into each, then spread cheese mixture into and even layer. Divide sauce among zucchini adding a few heaping spoonfuls to each. Cover baking dishes with foil and place in oven side by side and bake in preheated oven 30 minutes.

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  • Remove from oven, sprinkle tops with remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella (again, cooking too quickly, I mixed the mozzarella cheese into the cheese mixture and cooked all together instead of adding it at the end, still delish!), return to oven and bake until cheese has melted and zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes.

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Next time you’re in the mood for some warm and delicious comfort food but want to keep it healthy, try this recipe out and let me know what you think!

Healthy Mac and Cheese

My go-to casserole dish to take to picnics, covered-dish parties, holidays, and pretty much anytime someone asks me to bring something is Mac and Cheese.  I have a recipe that was from Southern Living way back when that my Mama passed to me.  I love it and so does everyone else.  I think it is by far the BEST Mac and Cheese recipe there is.

But it is definitely not the healthiest.  Sometimes you still want comfort food that is delicious and cheesy but doesn’t wreck your 80% clean eating plan!  And that recipe doesn’t include any lean protein to keep me full.

I was really in the mood for some comfort food this week and turned to Fixate, by Autumn Calabrese, the creator of 21 Day Fix and prepared her Mac and Cheese.  The only difference is I had already cooked all of my broccoli before I got to this recipe and just went without, deciding I would pair it with a salad.

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MMMMmmmm doesn’t that look delicious!  And it was!

I will include the complete, original recipe for you if you want to prepare a one dish wonder for your family.

Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli and Chicken

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 oz dry whole wheat macaroni (I used penne)
  • 4 tsp organic grass-fed butter or organic coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp unbleached whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 1/4 cups freshly grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 cups cookec chopped chicken breast, boneless, skinless
  • 6 cups chopped broccoli florets, steamed
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

  • Cook macaroni according to package directions (omit salt)
  • Melt butter or coconut oil in large saucepan over medium heat
  • Add flour; cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until brown (don’t let it burn).
  • Slowly whisk in almond milk; cook, whisking constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until mixture thickens and there are no lumps.
  • Reduce heat to low. Add cheese; cook, whisking constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until melted.
  • Add chicken, broccoli, salt, and pepper; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until heated through.
  • Serve immediately

Serves 8. 21 Day Fix Container Equivalents: 1 green, 1 yellow, 1/2 red, 1/2 blue.

It was a hit with the littlest Anderson too!

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Secret Ingredient Brownies

If you have been following my blog, you know that I have been eating clean and following the 21 Day Fix Meal Plan since January.  I absolutely love baking but I find it hard to avoid the temptation of delectable sweets in my house. But I really wanted something ooey, gooey and chocolatey this weekend. I recently discovered Chocolate Covered Katie who believes in eating chocolate everyday.  I decided I would give her number one recipe a test, even though one of the main ingredients seemed to be a really odd fit…. black beans.  In a dessert.  Really!

And surprise, surprise, they are AWESOME!  I know, it sounds crazy. But they are really delicious.  Of course they don’t taste as sweet and delectable as full sugar, white flour, full butter, whole milk, milk chocolate brownies that we know and love.  But those brownies also don’t love us.

So next time you want a chocolate treat, give these a try!  Share this with your friends to enjoy too!

Black Bean Brownies (adapted from the original recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups black beans (1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed very well)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup quick oats (40g)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

Black Bean Brownies Recipe: Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except chips in a good food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Really blend well. Stir in the chips, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Cook the black bean brownies 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before trying to cut. If they still look a bit undercooked, you can place them in the fridge overnight and they will magically firm up! Makes 9-12 brownies.

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Favorite Healthy Snacks

Did you know that eating 5-6 small meals throughout the day can help you to lose and maintain a healthy weight?  Does that mean that you should graze all day long? NO!

But, when you eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of 3 large meals, you are more likely to eat the proper portion, less likely to be hungry in between and more likely to make smarter choices instead of being so hungry that you eat whatever is in sight.

Most clean eating meal plans and many other weight loss/maintenance plans recommend eating 3 meals a day with 2-3 small snacks in between.

If you are not familiar with Clean Eating, the basic principle of is to consume food the way it is naturally delivered.  It is NOT a diet, rather a lifestyle approach to the way you prepare and eat your food.

  • Eat 5 to six times a day– three meals and 2-3 small snacks
  • Include lean protein, fresh fruit and vegetables and a complex carbohydrate with each meal.  This will keep your body energized and burning calories all day!
  • Choose organic whenever possible
  • Drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water a day (If you weigh 150 pounds, then drink 75 ounces of water)
  • READ labels.  Any product with a long list of human made ingredients is not natural.
  • Avoid processed and refined foods– like white flour, sugar, bread and pasta.  Instead, enjoy whole grains.
  • Steer clear of trans fats and things high in sugar
  • Consume healthy fats
  • Be aware of your portion sizes

There are tons of ways to prepare fresh fish and lean proteins like turkey, chicken, and pork.  And what about your veggies?  You can roast them, saute them, bake them, steam them, eat them raw.

But often times the next question becomes, what should I eat for my snacks??  I find the key to staying on track to always have healthy options on hand for those times when I am hungry and need something.  Once you have them on hand, then you are able to pack your snacks to enjoy throughout the day.

Here are some of MY favorite snacks:

  • Fresh fruit– Strawberries, blueberries, apples, banana (1/2 banana should count as one serving, most other fruit is 1 cup sliced), kiwi, melon, and MORE!
  • ¼ cup Hummus with cucumbers or sliced bell pepper
  • 10 Baby Carrots with 2-3 tsp of natural peanut butter
  • 1 small apple cubed with 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt and cinnamon
  • Apples with orange Greek yogurt (combine orange zest with a squeeze of fresh orange juice, 1 tsp (or more to taste) of pure maple syrup with Greek yogurt)

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  • 1 whole wheat waffle (toasted is best) with 2 tsp natural peanut butter, topped with ½ sliced banana or a few sliced strawberries

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  • 1 small apple with 1 mozzarella string cheese stick
  • My favorite morning snack! 1 piece of whole wheat toast with 2 scrambled or hard boiled eggs

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  • Favorite snack bars– Lara Bars (most only include fruit and nuts but have flavors like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Pecan Pie!) and Kind Bars (most only have nuts with honey or maple syrup!)

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I hope these snack ideas help you as you navigate this world of processed and overly sugared up foods!

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Creamy Chicken Salad

I love chicken salad.  Whether it is fruity with pineapple or grapes. Or maybe it is traditional with a little bit of pickles.  But one of the main ingredients (mayonnaise) of this go-to lunch item is not the healthiest option.

I was so excited when looking through Fixate and found there was a 21 Day Fix approved Chicken Salad Recipe.  And it is DELICIOUS!   You can serve it on a bed of mixed greens, in a whole wheat tortilla or on a piece of whole wheat toast.  Or just eat it like it is!

Creamy Chicken Salad

 Ingredients:
  • 3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken breast (boneless / skinless)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green apple
  • 1/2 cup seedless red grapes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/4 cup Honey Mustard Dressing (see below)
  • 8 cups shredded romaine lettuce
Directions:
  • Combine chicken, apple, grapes, almonds, green onions, tarragon, and Honey Mustard Salad Dressing in a large bowl.  Mix well, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

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  • Serve 1 1/4 cup Creamy Chicken Salad over 2 cups of romaine lettuce per serving.   
Honey Mustard Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard, gluten-free
  • 3 Tbsp raw honey
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea Salt to taste (optional)
Directions: Combine yogurt, mustard, honey, and vinegar in a medium bowl and mix well. Slowly add the oil, whisking constantly until well blended.    You can use the leftover dressing on salads throughout the week.
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Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Homemade Clean Tomato Sauce

One of the most used and versatile pantry items to always have on hand is a really good pasta sauce.  But when was the last time you actually read the labels?  There is often a ton of added sugar and preservatives.

Since I started my clean eating and fitness journey, I have really being paying more attention to labels and buying organic more often than not.  But sometimes, you really are able to make your own homemade pantry stable that is much cheaper than the organic option.

Take tomato sauce for example.  A really good traditional tomato sauce is about $4.00 a jar.  But organic can be about $8.00!  So I turned to Fixate for a cheaper, homemade clean alternative.

My version of this recipe is slightly different than the original Grandma’s Tomato Sauce for a couple reasons.  1.  I didn’t have any onions today.  But I did have a frozen pepper and onion medley.  I figured it would be fine because I love peppers in most any pasta or spaghetti type meals that I fix anyway.    2. I do not drink or buy wine.  So I use cooking wine.

I made this a couple months ago and it was delicious so I decided I would share it with all of you this time.  AND I made enough to last me six months!

Homemade Tomato Sauce

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion, Chopped (or try an onion and pepper blend like I did!)
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Finely Chopped
  • 1 (6 oz) can Tomato Paste, No Salt Added
  • 1/4 cup Red Cooking Wine
  • 2 cans Whole Peeled Tomatoes crushed or pureed in blender (or food processor)
  • 2 tbsp Raw Honey
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 (3 oz) Parmesan Cheese Rind
  • 3 Tbsp Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley

DIRECTIONS

  • Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
  • Add garlic and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, agave, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low; gently boil, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.

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  • Add cheese rind; cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
  • Add parsley (or basil- whatever you have); mix well.

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This week I prepared two different proteins to use the sauce with.

Meatballs

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 Cup – Whole Wheat Breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tsp. – Olive Oil
  • 1 Pounds Raw 93% Lean Ground Turkey Breast
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1/4 Cup – Fresh Parsley (finely chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp. – Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Tsp. – Dried Oregano Leaves
  • 1/2 Tsp. – Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. – Ground Black Pepper

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all of the ingredients.  Patty small meatballs.  Heat olive oil in pan. Brown meatballs on each side 2-3 minutes.  Then put the meatballs in a baking dish prepared with olive oil spray and finish off in the oven for 5-10 minutes until cooked through.

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When time to eat, I will warm with some of the tomato sauce and serve with zoodles.

Chicken Parmesan

INGREDIENTS

  • Whole wheat bread crumbs
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Sea Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Chicken breasts

DIRECTIONS

  • I didn’t include the amounts because this is not something I typically measure. I just eyeball based on the amount of chicken I am cooking each time.
  • Mix the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
  • Dip the chicken in the chicken then the bread crumb mixture.
  • Place the chicken in a baking dish prepared with olive oil spray and bake until cooked through- about 15-20 minutes.
  • Spread some pasta sauce onto of the chicken and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and return to oven for about 3-5 minutes.

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I saved the Tomato Sauce in small portions in freezer bags to have on hand next time I am in the mood for an Italian meal.

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