Healthy Easter Treats

Growing up I remember Easter with chocolate bunnies, malted eggs, jellybeans and a variety of other marshmallow and chocolate treats. This was all on top of the traditional Easter Egg. Below I have listed some healthy alternative Easter treats.

Healthy Marshmallow Recipe (or Homemade Peeps)

peeps

These fluffy honey-sweetened homemade marshmallows will deliver all the flavor but none of the health-compromising refined sugar. Plus, these can be made in a coconut or chocolate version (see below) based on the recipes plans or preferences. This simple recipe will make you wonder why you ever bought marshmallows at the store. But remember, sugar that comes from whole foods like honey or fruit is still sugar, so remember to eat these as a treat, not a regular snack.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tbsp. grass-fed gelatin (or agar agar for a vegan option)
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

1. Lightly grease a loaf pan. Then cover with parchment paper (with enough to hang over the sides of the pan one way), then grease the parchment paper.
2. Put ¼ cup of water in a medium bowl (or in the bowl of a mixer with attached whisk) , and sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Set aside to soften.
3. In a small pot, place the honey, salt, and the other ¼ cup of water. Heat on medium heat. Using a candy thermometer, bring the mixture to 240 degrees. (You can also test it by dribbling a little of the liquid into a bowl of ice cold water. It should be in the candy stage of forming little soft balls when cooled in the water and taken out. It takes about 7-8 minutes to reach this temperature. ). Remove from the heat immediately when reaching temp.
4. Using a hand mixer on low, very carefully mix in the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture by pouring the hot syrup in a drizzle down the side of the bowl. Once it’s all combined, add the vanilla and increase speed to high. Beat for 12- 15 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and fluffy (it will look like marshmallow fluff). *Scrap into the prepared pan and leave, uncovered, for 4-12 hours to dry. Cut into squares, serve as is or for an extra treat cut with bunny cookie cutter to create little bunny ‘peeps’.

*If making Peeps you will want to divide the mixture into parts (as many as you need) an add food coloring to make the various color peeps before leaving to let dry. Then proceed to cutting with cookie cutter. You will need to coat the cutter lightly with cooking oil to keep marshmallow from sticking.

Homemade Reeses Peanut Butter Eggs

reeces

Total Time: 10m
Yield: 6-9 eggs

Ingredients

Filling

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter OR allergy-friendly alternative at room temperature (homemade recipe here)
  • dash salt
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 more tbsp of the sugar

Coating

  • 3/4 cup (3.6 ounces) sugar free chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Mix the first three ingredients together in a bowl into crumbly dough. Also, I put the dough into a plastic bag to shape into a ball with less mess.) Add the extra 2 tbsp. sugar if it’s too gooey, and add a little more pb if it’s too dry. (Different brands of peanut butter will yield different results.) Taste the dough and add a little more salt if desired. Form dough into egg shaped ovals** (like Reeces eggs). Freeze the dough for an hour or until firm.
  2. Meanwhile, melting the chocolate chips and coconut oil for 30 seconds in the microwave. Stir until smooth.
  3. Next dip frozen peanut butter eggs into melted chocolate. Set on tray with wax paper and refrigerate until chocolate is set.

**Note Alternatively, you can use candy egg molds. Instead of shaping peanut butter pour mixture into egg molds and freeze for about 1 hour. Remove from mold Next melt chocolate chips and coconut oil and then dip peanut better eggs. Set on wax paper and refrigerate until set.

Filled Plastic Eggs

easter-egg-pla

Growing up our family always had the traditional Easter Egg Hunt. What made it an extra special treat was my mom used to hide a few plastic eggs filled with special treats. She would put a variety of Easter surprises in them. You can fill ‘em up with dried fruits or peeled snacks and/or nuts or even little toys!

Healthy Easter Egg Popsicle

Saw this on a Pinterest post and thought it’s the perfect Easter morning brekkie!

Easy Homemade Peanut Butter

Homemade-Peanut-Butter
This homemade peanut butter is smooth, creamy, and made in just 5 minutes! Store the jar in the refrigerator to ensure the texture stays as thick as possible. The peanut butter should last for up to 2-3 months if stored in the refrigerator.
Yields: 1 cup + 2 tablespoons
Ingredients
  • 2 cups (299g) peanuts, dry roasted unsalted
  • ¼ – ½ tsp salt (season to taste)
Add the peanuts to a blender, and turn on the blender to its low speed. After the peanuts are completely broken down and begin to turn creamy (about 2-3 minutes), turn the blender to its medium speed. Continue blending until the peanut butter is completely smooth.(see notes for chunky)  Add the salt, ¼ teaspoon at a time, and blend for 20-30 seconds, tasting after each addition (season to taste). Transfer the peanut butter to a jar, and chill for at least 8 hours or overnight to achieve the traditional thick peanut butter texture.
Notes:  You can also opt to use roasted and salted peanuts if you prefer. Adjust the amount of salt accordingly to suit your tastes.
This recipes is: gluten-free, vegan, clean eating, low carb, sugar-free.
You can also make this peanut butter chunky by blending until completely mixed but chunks of peanuts still remain.
peanutbutter

Gluten-free No Sugar Sticky Date Cupcakes

20170330_163505.jpg

This sticky date cupcake is just perfect to satisfy a sweet tooth without actually having any process sugar. I used a little maple syrup to add to the dates natural sweetness. I preferred mixing this in the blender because it’s so quick and easy to pour.  It is also gluten-free!

 

1 1/4 cups water
1 cup dates, pitted
3 ripe bananas, peeled and roughly chopped
2/3 cups coconut or almond flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 270°F (185 C).
**Grease muffin tins and set aside.
Heat the dates and water in a small saucepan over low heat until the dates break down and thicken. Use a fork to mash them together and set aside.
Place the flour, egg, banana, vanilla extract and baking powder in a blender or food processor and mix well until well combined.
Add the dates to the banana mixture and combine. Evenly distribute into the ramekins or muffin tin. Cook in the oven for about 20-22 minutes.

** You can use paper cupcake cups but be aware due to the ‘stickiness’ part of this cake, the paper will stick to it.

Individual Phyllo Apple Cups

healthy-halloween-swaps-03-pg-full

Candy apples are a decadent fall treat, but they’re loaded with sugar and calories. These rehabbed apple cups taste just as indulgent with all the gooey, seasonal goodness of fall, but contain just 144 calories a serving — that’s half the calories of a candy apple. Plus, the perfectly portioned apple cups are not only easier on your waistline, but on your teeth as well!

Serves 12

Ingredients:

Non-stick cooking spray
2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch chunks
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons water
4 (9×16) sheets phyllo pastry, thawed
1 cup fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a standard muffin pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.

In a large pot, combine the apples, cranberries, lemon juice, zest, agave, ginger, cinnamon and allspice. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the juices in the pot thicken and very little syrup remains, about 10 minutes, set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, mix the melted butter and water. Unfold the phyllo, lay one sheet on a cutting board, and brush the dough with the melted-butter-water mixture — be sure to keep the pastry you are not working with covered with a damp towel to prevent it from drying out. Repeat three times, stacking the layers of dough on top of each other so that you have four layers.

Cut the stack of phyllo sheets three times crosswise and then cut again lengthwise twice so you have 12 even squares. Lay the phyllo squares in the wells of the muffin pan and gently press them into the cups, letting the edges fold and overlap naturally.

Spoon ¼ cup of cooled apple mixture into the phyllo cups. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until nicely browned. Let the apple cups cool in the pan before trying to remove them. Serve warm with a small spoonful of frozen yogurt.

Nutrition info. (per serving): Calories: 144, Total fat: 4 g, Saturated fat: 3 g, Cholesterol: 8 mg, Sodium: 74 mg, Protein: 2 g, Fiber: 4 g, Carbs: 27 g

source

Spaghetti With Wilted Greens and Walnut-Parsley Pesto

spaghetti-walnut-parsely-pesto

This meal makes for excellent post-workout fuel (a great mix of whole grains and protein).
• It helps keep you energized, since it provides one-third of your daily iron needs.
• You get antioxidants from the veggies, herbs, and walnuts

1 (1-pound) box whole-wheat spaghetti

1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped

1 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup packed fresh baby spinach

1/4 cup walnuts, toasted

1 small clove garlic, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

6 large eggs

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cook pasta according to package directions; reserve 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water. Add chard after 5 minutes of cooking and drain; return pasta and greens to pot.

2. While pasta is cooking, combine parsley, spinach, walnuts, garlic, 2 tablespoons oil, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon water, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a food processor; pulse until chunky.

3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, crack eggs into skillet. Cook until the whites are completely firm but the yolks are still soft (about 2 minutes). Season eggs with remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

4. Toss reserved pasta mixture with pesto and enough reserved cooking water to make a thin sauce. Divide pasta among 6 shallow bowls and top each with a fried egg.

Nutritional Information

Calories per serving: 439
Fat per serving: 14.8g
Saturated fat per serving: 2.9g
Monounsaturated fat per serving: 6.8g
Polyunsaturated fat per serving: 4.1g
Protein per serving: 20g
Carbohydrates per serving: 62g
Fiber per serving: 11g
Cholesterol per serving: 186mg
Iron per serving: 6mg
Sodium per serving: 448mg
Calcium per serving: 128mg

Blueberries , an Antioxidant Superfood

blueberries-superfood.jpg

Blueberries are healthy and super sweet – we all know that, right? Plus, they make a killer pie. But it turns out these summer favorites are actually a superfruit packed with antioxidants that may fight disease and help with brain health. Read on to learn why this fruit easily earns the title of “super.”

 WHY THEY’RE SUPER

At 84 calories per cup, a serving of berries contains 14 percent of the suggested daily fiber and 24 percent of the suggested daily intake of Vitamin C. But it gets better. Research suggests blueberries deliver some even more powerful and long-lasting health benefits. One study found that consuming a cup of blueberries per week can lower blood pressure and perhaps speed up metabolism, due mostly to their high levels of anthocyanins (a type of antioxidant) . Another study suggests blueberries can lower levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol), potentially reducing the risk of coronary heart disease . Blueberries may also inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells .

So adding some baby blues to a fruit salad may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer – great news for your body. But what about your brain? Blueberries have that covered, too. Psychiatrists at the University of Cincinnati found that wild blueberry juice enhanced memory and learning function in older adults while reducing blood sugar and decreasing symptoms of depression . Because of these findings, some researchers suggest blueberries could potentially fight more serious memory problems like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s(though more research is needed) . The most recent research on this tiny superfood backs up that claim. Using a food-frequency questionnaire, scientists have been able to link a higher intake of flavonoids, particularly from berries, to reduced rates of cognitive decline in the elderly .

FEELING BLUE? YOUR ACTION PLAN

For the freshest in-season blueberries, buy or pick your own May to October. Craving these blue babies out of season? Most grocery stores sell them all year long, though these varieties tend to be more expensive (and come from further away). Don’t forget about dried and frozen alternatives, perfect for smoothies and baked goods any time of the year.

Is there such thing as eating too many blueberries? They do have a relatively high sugar content (especially in dried form), but when sticking to the suggested serving size of one cup of fresh berries, that’s nothing to worry about.

Blueberries are great washed and eaten by the handful, but don’t be afraid to be creative with these fruits. Toss ‘em in a yogurt parfait, add to whole-grain waffles topped with banana, cinnamon, and nut butter, or try them in a smoothie.

What’s your favorite way to eat blueberries? Share in the comments below!

 

Grapefruit and Avocado Salad With Seared Salmon

Grapefruit-and-Avocado-Salad-Seared-Salmon-XL.jpg

Fatty acids from the walnuts and salmon, as well as monounsaturated fats from the avocado keep this dish heart-healthy.
• Grapefruit helps kick up fat-burning and stabilizes blood sugar.
• This salad nets you a good amount of the B vitamin niacin, which helps keep your skin, hair, and eyes healthy.

1 large grapefruit

2 large bunches arugula, stems removed (10 cups)

1 ripe avocado, pitted and sliced

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

Cooking spray

3 (5-ounce) wild salmon fillets (skin on)

1/4 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

Peel and segment grapefruit with a sharp knife on a cutting board; reserve juice in a bowl. Toss grapefruit segments and juices with arugula and avocado; divide salad among 4 serving plates. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Sprinkle remaining salt and pepper over both sides of salmon. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Add fish (skin-side down) to skillet, and cook until skin is golden and fish releases easily from pan (about 4 minutes). Using a spatula, gently flip fish and cook about 3 minutes more. Break each fillet into 4 pieces; top salads with 3 pieces fish. Drizzle salads with reserved dressing; sprinkle with walnuts.

How To Make Sure Your Energy Bar Is ACTUALLY Healthy

energy-bar

If you’re looking for an energy bar that truly provides energy instead of zapping it, you better plan on spending some time looking at the food labels on these products. Although granola and energy bars are often relied upon as a snack of choice, some bars are surrounded by health halos even when they’re actually full of unhealthy ingredients.

Not all bars are alike. The key is trying to choose a bar that adds value to your diet and contributes a balance of protein, fiber, whole grains, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. The right snacks keep blood-sugar levels and moods stable, and may help you stay alert and focused. In fact, some snacks can even help you lose or maintain weight if they satisfy your mind and mouth and they keep you from otherwise eating high-calorie foods that are devoid of value.

Here’s how to navigate the bar aisle to make a choice that best suits your needs:

1. Look for a bar that contains about 5 grams of protein.

There’s no need to go for bars that contain an overwhelming amount of protein. Excess protein doesn’t go directly to your muscles! Unless you’ve suffered an illness, where you had significant protein (muscle) loss or if you have increased needs for protein, much of the excess protein that is eaten is stored as body fat. Protein taken in greater quantities than needed, over extended periods of time, might result in bone thinning or perhaps impair kidney function.

Be sure to check to see that you’re getting protein from real, whole-food sources, like nuts, as opposed to highly processed ingredients mostly from isolates. A bar that contains around 5 grams of protein should do the trick, especially in the company of other nutrients below.

2. Make sure the main source of sugar comes from fruit.

Avoid sugar sources like added sugars, sweeteners, or sugar alcohols. Check to see how sugar is spelled — sometimes it’s not S-U-G-A-R! Sugar can appear as dextrose, maltose, organic can juice, rice syrup, and so on. Look for sugar in the form of real fruit, not pseudo-fruit-like substances.

3. Choose a bar that has healthy carbohydrates.

Look for whole grains on your ingredient list like oats, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, and quinoa. Fiber provided by these grains will help move you — look for around 5 grams of fiber.

4. Don’t be fat phobic.

Helpful fats derived from nuts can be deliciously satisfying, and certain fats (like almonds and walnuts) have even been shown to help lower cholesterol and stabilize blood-sugar levels. Your best bet is when the source of fat is derived from nuts.

5. Be mindful of calories.

You want to keep your snack bar between 150 and 200 calories, especially if you’re trying to watch your weight.

6. Aim for transparency.

Pick a product that actually looks like the ingredients contained within. Instead of looking like a piece of pressed wood, your bar should proudly display the nuts, grains, and fruit that appear on its ingredient list.

Raise the bar by choosing one that your body will be happy to reach for when you need it.

Here are some healthy bar recipes  if you’re up for cooking your own:

5-Ingredient-Granola-Bars-MinimalistBaker.com_

No Bake Granola Bars:

Healthy, no bake granola bars with just 5 ingredients and a sweet, crunchy texture. Peanut butter and honey complement each other perfectly in this ideal portable breakfast or snack.

1 cup packed dates, pitted (deglet nour or medjool)*
1/4 cup maple syrup (or agave for vegan option)
1/4 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter or almond butter (even better make your own!)
1 cup roasted unsalted almonds, loosely chopped
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (gluten free for GF eaters)
optional: chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, banana chips, vanilla, etc.(I add walnuts &/or pecans and dried cranberries)

5-Ingredient-Granola-Bars1

Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should form a “dough” like consistency.
**Optional:Toast your oats in a 350 degree oven for 15-ish minutes or until slightly golden brown. Otherwise, leave them raw (I just prefer mine toasted)
Place oats, almonds and dates in a bowl – set aside.
Warm honey and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture and then mix, breaking up the dates to disperse throughout.
Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to an 8×8 dish or other small pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper so they lift out easily.
Press down until uniformly flattened. Cover with parchment or plastic wrap, and let set in fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes to harden.
Remove bars from pan and chop into 10 even bars. Store in an airtight container for up to a few days or refrigerate.

PEANUT BUTTER & HONEY CHEWY GRANOLA BARS

Ingredients:

2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter* (unsalted)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (optional)

*Peanuts are one of the crops most heavily sprayed with pesticides, so make sure to buy organic whenever possible.

peanut-butter-granola

Line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the honey to a boil. Set a timer, and allow the honey to continue boiling for 1 minute. In the meantime, place the oats in a large bowl and set aside. Remove from the pan of honey from the heat and stir in the peanut butter and salt. Immediately pour the warm mixture over the oats, and use a spatula to stir well, coating the oats evenly. As the mixture cools, it will become sticky and difficult to mix, so be sure to move quickly!

Transfer the mixture to the lined loaf pan, and press HARD to pack it into the pan. Pressing firmly will ensure that the bars stick together well later. Place the pan in the fridge or freezer to cool, then use a large knife to cut the bars. I like to store these bars in the freezer for best shelf life (up to 6 months) then pull them out as needed– they thaw in about an hour, which makes them perfect for a mid-morning snack. If you’d prefer to store these bars at room temperature, they should last for up to a week.

7 Ways to Eat (& Drink!) Turmeric

turmeric-powder111

Do you have a jar of turmeric languishing in your spice cupboard? Or perhaps you’re looking for ways to add it to your diet in response to all the recent studies indicating its health-promoting and disease-preventing properties. Turmeric has long been a staple in Indian curries as well as in foods like mustard (it provides that golden yellow color!), but there are lots of other ways to eat and drink this spice. Here are seven easy ideas.

  • 1. Add it to scrambles and frittatas. Use a pinch of turmeric in scrambled eggs, a frittata, or tofu scramble. If you or your family are new to turmeric, this is a great place to start because the color is familiar and the flavor subtle.
  • 2. Toss it with roasted vegetables. Turmeric’s slightly warm and peppery flavor works especially well with cauliflower, potatoes, and root vegetables.
  • 3. Add it to rice. A dash of turmeric brings color and mild flavor to a pot of plain rice or a fancier pilaf.

→ Recipe: Fragrant Yellow Rice

  • 4. Try it with greens. Sprinkle turmeric into sautéed or braised greens like kale, collards, and cabbage.
  • 5. Use it in soups. A bowl of vegetable or chicken soup feels even more warming when it’s tinged with golden turmeric.
  • 6. Blend it into a smoothie. While fresh turmeric root is especially great in juices and smoothies, a pinch of ground spice is good, too. The slightly pungent flavor is usually well masked in smoothies.

→ Recipe: Superpower Morning Smoothie (the recipe doesn’t call for turmeric but you can definitely add it!)

  • 7. Make tea. Simmer turmeric with milk and honey to make an earthy and comforting beverage.

→ Recipe:Turmeric-Ginger Tea

 

source

Why avocados are the most awesome fruit, according to science

avacado-01

Also known as an alligator pear or butter fruit, the versatile avocado is the only fruit that provides a substantial amount of monounsaturated fat (the healthy kind). According to Medical News Today, avocados are a naturally nutrient-dense food and contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals.

It’s hard to go past a perfectly ripe avocado. And lucky for us, these things are so packed with nutrients, it hurts. Not only are they high in fibre, monounsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, B6, vitamin E, and a bunch of healthy fats, they’re also packed with twice the amount of potassium as bananas. And all of these work in conjunction with the nutrients we get from other fruits and vegetables – throw some avocado in a salad and you’ll absorb nutrients from the rest of the ingredients more easily, says this episode of Reactions from the American Chemical Society.

Oh and that ugly, tough skin? Well, that’s one of the avocado’s best qualities – it’s so dense, it keeps out pesticides, making it one of the safest fruits to eat (which is why you should think twice before forking out that extra cash for organic avocados).

Cut through that skin and you’ll get access to 11 different carotenoids, which are naturally occurring pigments found in plants, fungi, and some bacteria that have been found to impart many health benefits, including decreasing the risk of disease, particularly certain cancers and eye disease. Beta-Carotene, for example, is thought to have added benefits because of its ability to be converted to vitamin A, and lutein and zeaxanthin might protect our eyes from disease because they absorb the damaging blue light that enters the eye.

If you want to take advantage of all that, you’re going to want to make the most of the dark green portion of the fruit directly under the skin, and the video above shows you the best technique to maximise how much of this velvety goodness you get. (Plus it doesn’t involve stabbing a knife into the seed, which could save you a trip to the hospital.)

But alas, avocados aren’t perfect – they contain compounds called phenols, and these guys are responsible for the ridiculously fast browning that takes place as soon as you cut into one. When exposed to oxygen, the phenols will convert into an entirely different class of compounds called quinones, and over time, these link together to form a pigment called melanin. Yep, the same compounds that give our skin its colour.

On top of that, avocados are packed with an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase, which acts to speed up this whole browning process even further. Why, nature, why?

Any avocado fan will know a temporary counter to this is lemon or lime juice, because the acid it carries can slow down the activity of the enzymes. But did you also know that if you douse your guacamole in cold water and store it in the fridge overnight, it will help stop the browning? Just tip the excess water out the next day and stir your guac and it’ll be (almost) as good as new, the American Chemical Society recommends.

source