“Mom, You Make the Best Brownies”

Simple Bean Brownies

Simple Bean Brownies

Hello vitamin friends! It’s been a while! Look for many new tips and recipes because I’ve been conquering the BEST quinoa chili, homemade slow-cooker applesauce, and countless healthy concoctions for picky kids. But, for now, I must post our new favorite dessert. Just 2 ingredients, it’s low-fat, gooey, crowd-pleasing, and includes beans. Booyah! I knew you’d be sold when I said ‘beans!’

Simple Bean Brownies
Makes 16 squares

1 package brownie mix (my favorite is Trader Joe’s Brownie Truffle Baking Mix, reviewed and pictured here)
1 15-oz can black beans (or 1 3/4 cups cooked black beans plus 3/4 cup water), blended (including liquid)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Stir mix with blended beans.

3. Lightly oil the bottom of a 9-inch by 9-inch baking pan, and pour/spread brownie batter into pan evenly.

4. Bake for 30 minutes or until fully cooked in the center.

5. Once cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar (I do this through a sifter) – Optional. 

Surprise and scare all your favorite family and friends! 

Nutrition info per mouth-watering square: 144 calories, 3 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 146 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 16 g sugar, 2.5 g protein, 11% iron.

Note: For an extra health punch, stir 1/2 cup shredded zucchini or carrots into the batter, OR blend a handful of spinach or kale with the beans. 

You can’t even taste the beans (or the veggies). And, I kid you not, my kids won’t eat ANY other brownie. Chocolate cheers!

Cholesterol-Lowering Breakfast Cookies

Cookies for Breakfast

Cookies for Breakfast

You’ve heard of breakfast for dinner, so why not cookies for breakfast? This life is worth LIVING, people!

Inspiration for this creation: 1) Everyone’s cholesterol is high, especially the LDL (“Lousy”) one, 2) No one has time for breakfast, and 3) People want to eat cookies constantly.

Happy to help! I’m a People too. Introducing the Cholesterol-Lowering* Breakfast Power Cookie. It’s got bran flakes!, chia seeds which are massively rich in cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber, and oats which are moderately rich in cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber.

If you need a refresher on the 5 easy tips for lowering your cholesterol, soluble fiber is harder to find in the diet — it’s only in oats, flax, chia seeds, beans, lentils, and berries. It works like this:

Soluble fiber reduces the amount of bile reabsorbed in the intestines. The liver (aka ‘bile maker’) freaks out and snatches LDL cholesterol out of the bloodstream to make more bile salts. Down goes your LDL cholesterol, and the party starts. Take home message: Eat more chia seeds,  flax seeds, oats, beans, lentils, and berries and you may have much healthier arteries.

As a side note: You should also eat lots of INSOLUBLE fiber found in veggies and fruit skins because without it, your poops won’t be as plump and won’t be able to carpool out as much bile. Although I love both, a lot less bile fits in a mini-Cooper than a mini-van. Bile can get reabsorbed into your bloodstream through your intestines and there’ll be very little effect on your LDL cholesterol.

Cholesterol-Lowering* Breakfast Power Cookie
Don’t be turned off by the list of 15 ingredients. Most of them are in your pantry.
Makes 13 cookies

1/2 cup chia seeds (or ground flax seed meal if you must)
1/3 cup unsweetened soymilk
2 Tbsp Earth Balance margarine, softened
1/4 cup coconut oil, or vegetable oil
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup bran flakes
1/4 cup sugar (optional, or use 1/4 cup of calorie-free sweetener)
2 Tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut (optional) 
1/3 cup (40g) dried cranberries or raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, soak chia seeds in milk for 5 minutes. Add remaining wet ingredients and let sit until dry ingredients are mixed. 

3. In a separate and larger bowl, combine dry ingredients minus the coconut (if using) and the dried cranberries. 

4. Add wet to dry, stir to combine, and then stir in coconut and cranberries. 

5. Form into 1 1/2-inch round patties, and place on a cookie sheet with about 1 inch between cookies. Press down slightly with a fork to flatten.

6. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool completely before removing with a metal spatula. 

Nutrition info per cookie including sugar and coconut (2 cookies recommended for a complete breakfast meal): 176 calories, 9.5 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 20 g carbohydrate (6 g sugar), 4.5 g fiber, 4 g protein, 6% calcium, 9% iron.

*Please don’t come find me if your cholesterol doesn’t go down after 3 months of eating these cookies. There’s no guarantee, but the research looks quite promising, and why not give them a shot?*

WAFFLE HOUSE in the House

First Belgian Waffle Experiment

First Belgian Waffle Experiment

I have fond and scary memories of that Belgian waffle maker in the Penn State dining hall… gooey batter dripping all over the floor, steamy eggness evaporating into the air, and then plates upon plates floating by with waffles buried beneath sugary frozen yogurt, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry (fruit! fiber! health?). I knew then that I picked the right major. At that rate, I’d never be out of a job as a dietitian.

So only just today, after a hand-me-down waffle maker arrived chez moi, did I fully embrace the beauty and wonder that is the fresh, steamy, Belgian waffle. Of course I took a basic waffle recipe and removed the eggs, added flaxseed meal, used unsweetened soymilk, and topped them with frozen organic strawberries heated into a hot syrup. I mean, I bought jam made out of tomatoes last week for crying out loud! BUT. They were still REALLLY good! And basically good for you. Next time I’ll add chia seeds and perhaps some shredded zucchini and goji berries. But until then….

Belgian Waffles Gone Good-for-You

Makes 7 waffles
Materials: A fantastic mother-in-law who is done with her waffle maker

Sift these together:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Stir these in a separate bowl, then add to sifted bowl:
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or any flavorless oil or melted margarine)
2 3/4 cup unsweetened soymilk (or other non-dairy milk)
1/4 cup flaxseed meal (optional, but gives a fiber punch and a cholesterol-lowering boost!)
1 Tbsp vanilla (optional)

Heat waffle maker according to package instructions. On the Sunbeam, it’s about 5 minutes plugged in until the light goes off.

Spray top and bottom with cooking oil, or if you don’t have a sprayer, pour one teaspoon on the bottom and wipe a little oil on the top with a paper towel.

Pour 1/2 cup batter into waffle maker and close, lifting only after at least 3 minutes, or when the steam emersion stops. (You’ll know.)

Top with heated strawberries, maple syrup, powdered sugar, or eat plain.

Nutrition Info Per Waffle (all 4 sections): 260 calories, 11 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 366 mg sodium, 34 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, <1 g sugar, 8 g protein, 4% vitamin A, 12% vitamin D, 13% calcium, 12% iron.

Raw Food 3-Day Starts Tomorrow!

Image by: Manitoba Harvest

Image by: Manitoba Harvest

A totally raw diet has been on my to-do list for a super long time. While I eat lots and lots of raw foods every day — sometimes 75% of what I eat is raw — I’ve never gone completely 100%. Actually, after looking at this raw meal plan, I know why I’ve waited so long! But, you can do anything for 3 days, right? This time around, I’m not going to do anything fancy or extreme. No sprouting or specialized products beyond hemp hearts for making raw hemp milk, and no specialized equipment beyond my juicer, Vitamix blender, and oven to act as a dehydrator running at 115 degrees. I *am* going to try and replicate those pricey kale chips that are coated with “cheesy” raw cashews. Keep an eye out for that final product. So, here goes: Starting tomorrow! With me?

Breakfast: I plan to start the day with herbal tea and a hearty Green Smoothie containing fruits (banana, berries), veggies (greens), raw almond butter (newly found at Trader Joe’s), and raw hemp milk (see recipe below). I’ll continue my philosophy that a healthy high-calorie breakfast will bring you nothing but glory throughout the day. Many raw foodists eat an entire watermelon and 15 bananas for breakfast. That sounds dreadful. Other ideas that sound way better (to me at least…):

Snacks: I plan to chow on raw nuts, fruit, veggies, and my Pulp Crax dipped in raw hummus or spread with mashed avocado. Perhaps some dried fruit or a Larabar.

Lunch: Large fresh veggie salad topped with raw seeds, cold-pressed olive oil (raw foodists like this brand, although I’ll probably stick with the cold-pressed one in my pantry for this 3-day experiment), a teeny tiny bit of apple cider vinegar (can’t find any other easy-to-find vinegars that are raw), and sea salt.

Dinner: Raw soup, warmed up with the spin of the Vitamix. Check out all these raw soup recipes. The Carrot Ginger and Cream of Mushroom look especially tasty. Or, I may go for Skinny Dish’s very own Gazpacho a la Shepherd Street using apple cider vinegar instead of red wine vinegar, omitting the croutons, and doubling up on the avocado. Plus, some raw almonds on the side or crumbled on top.

Dessert: 1 or 2 dates stuffed with raw almond butter. Divine! I tried this recipe for Raw Cookie Dough SHAPE Magazine a while back using raw agave instead of honey & maple syrup. It totally rocked!

Night-time Snack: I have one of these every night, and I can’t imagine that that urge is going to go away with the powers of a raw diet, although I’m totally open to being surprised. I will *plan* on having some fruit and a mini “trail mix” of dried fruit and raw nuts along with my herbal tea.

Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Raw diets claim to give you more energy, better clarity, greater euphoria, better sleep, and even better sex.

For today, happy green foods and St. Patrick’s Day! I’ll see you tomorrow for more green and more raw :)

hemp milkRaw Hemp Milk

1 cup raw hemp hearts
4 cups chilled water

Blend for 30-60 second until milky white and smooth. Store in fridge for up to 7 days. Makes 4 cups.

50 Sweet and Salty 100-Calorie Snacks

100Need something but don’t want to totally blow it? Here are 50 sweet and salty snack ideas adapted from and added to a list on Greatist.com. These little minis just might take the edge off until the next meal.

SWEET ACTION

    1. Larabar or Pure Energy Organic bar of choice: Half the bar, or 1 Larabar mini-bar
    2. Grapes: 1 cup, fresh or frozen. Freezing makes you eat them more slowly
    3. Chocolate Banana: 1/2 frozen banana dipped in 1 square melted dark chocolate
    4. Latte Love: 8 ounces steamed vanilla almond milk with 1 shot espresso
    5. PB Apple: 1 small organic gala apple, sliced and dipped in 2 teaspoons peanut butter
    6. Shredded Frosted Mini Wheats: 20 of ‘em
    7. Barbara’s Cinnamon Puffins cereal: 50 (a little less than 1 cup)
    8. Mini PB&F: One fig newton with 1 teaspoon peanut butter
    9. Spiced Orange: One orange— about the size of a tennis ball— sprinkled with cinnamon
    10. Grilled Pineapple: 2 ¼-inch thick pineapple rounds (about 1 cup), grilled (or sautéed) for two minutes or until golden
    11. Berries n’ Cream: 1 cup blueberries with 2 tablespoons non-dairy whipped topping
    12. Oats n’ Berries: ⅓ cup rolled oats (cooked with water), topped with cinnamon and ¼ cup fresh berries
    13. Dark Chocolate: One block, or three squares
    14. Chocolate Chia Pudding: 1/2 serving
    15. Nut-Stuffed Date: One Medjool Date filled with one teaspoon natural unsalted almond butter
    16. Cinnamon Applesauce: 1 cup unsweetened
    17. Grapefruit: 1 large, sprinkled with Truvia if needed
    18. Milk n’ Cookies: 6 animal crackers with ½ cup vanilla almond milk
    19. Shamrock Smoothie: 1 cup
    20. Jelly Beans: 25 of ‘em! Although reserved only for the worst sugar-craving moments
    21. Apple Chips: ¾ cup
    22. PB Graham: 1 large graham cracker smeared with 1 teaspoon peanut butter
    23. Just Mango: 1 oz dried mango snack bag from Just Tomatoes, etc!
    24. Clementines: THREE!
    25. Strawberries: 25 medium ones, sliced & sprinkled with Truvia for extra sweetness

SALTY DOG

  1. Trader Joe’s Mesquite Smoked Seasoned Almonds: 15
  2. Carrots n’ Hummus: About 10 baby carrots with 2 tablespoons hummus.
  3. Pistachios: A couple handfuls— about 25
  4. “Cheesy” Breaded Tomatoes: 3 roasted plum tomatoes sliced and topped with 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.
  5. Curried Sweet Potato: One medium sweet potato cooked for 6 minutes in the microwave, mashed with 1 teaspoon curry powder, & a sprinkle of salt and pepper
  6. “Cheesy” Popcorn: 2 cups air-popped popcorn with 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast— tastes like real cheese!
  7. Soy Edamame: 1/2 cup boiled Edamame with 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  8. Dijon Pretzels: 2 ½ pretzel rods with 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  9. Kale Chips: 1 cup raw kale— stems removed— baked with 1 teaspoon olive oil at 400° until crisp
  10. Sweet Potato Fries: 1 medium sweet potato sliced, sprinkled with 1 tsp olive oil, & baked at 400° for 10 minutes
  11. Cucumber Sandwich: ½ English muffin with 2 tablespoons olive hummus & three slices of cucumber
  12. Mixed Olives: About 8
  13. Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, sprayed with oil (just a spritz!) & baked at for 400° for 15 minutes or until brown. Sprinkle with kosher salt
  14. Balsamic Veggies: 3 cups raw peppers (any color!) dipped in 2 tablespoons low-fat balsamic vinaigrette
  15. Cucumber Salad: One large cucumber (sliced) with 2 tablespoons chopped red onion and 2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
  16. Crunchy Raw Kale Salad: 1 cup kale leaves chopped with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
  17. TJ’s Roasted Seaweed Snack: 1 1/2 packages!
  18. Chick Pea Salad: 1/3 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans) with 1 tablespoon sliced scallions, a squeeze of lemon juice, and ¼ cup diced tomatoes
  19. Grilled Garlic Corn on the Cob: One small-sized ear brushed with 1 teaspoon sautéed minced garlic & 1 teaspoon olive oil, grilled until tender
  20. Chips n’ Salsa: 10 baked tortilla chips with ¼ cup salsa
  21. PB & Celery: 1 medium celery stalk with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  22. Rice Cake & Almond Butter: 1 lightly salted rice cake with 2 teaspoons almond butter
  23. Old Bay Beans: 1/3 cup chick peas baked for 10 minutes at 350° with Old Bay Seasoning
  24. Goddess Veggies: Countless raw veggies dipped in 2 tablespoons Goddess Dressing
  25. Popchips: 1 snack-size bag of the plain potato variety

Cheers until the next feeding!

Superbowl Pant Survival

Of course YOU will survive the Superbowl, but what about your pants? Will they have to take a temporary hiatus in the back of the closet after tonight? To the snackinizer! Here are consumptionaries that will keep your lower half in it’s post-holiday / pre-Superbowl position:

1. Polenta Stuffed Mini Peppers (gluten-free)

_MG_5092

2. Guacamame (gluten-free)

_MG_5101

3. Fiery Cashew Dip  (gluten-free)

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4. Veggie Pupusas (gluten-free)

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5. Any of these Meatless Meats, given high marks by meat lovers

6. No Fant Pants Nachos (gluten-free)

7. Hot Pants Cornbread

JenCornbread

8. Vegan Hot Wings

9. Quick & Easy Veggie Chili

10. Creamy Spinach Dip (video)

Happy chowing!

Detox Day 6: Thinking About Days 8, 9, & 10….

Mmm! A half-plate of veggies

Happy Day 6! What’s the latest? Still feeling good? Sleeping well and feeling energized? Now is a perfect time to start thinking about what happens the day after tomorrow. Will you go back to your pre-Detox eating? A modified version? Take today and tomorrow and make a plan for what you’d like to do long-term. Here are some popular, healthy, and realistic post-Detox modifications to consider:

1. Go back to drinking the morning cup of coffee you missed, but with vanilla almond milk instead of cream and sugar. Try this creamy, dairy-free concoction. Or, enjoy green, white, or black tea as your morning caffeinated beverage.

2. Continue eating the level of fruits and veggies with a giant heaping of cooked veggies at either lunch or dinner, and a giant serving of raw veggies at the other meal. Shoot for HALF your plate being veggies (either raw or cooked) at mealtime.

3. Continue with shakes or smoothies in the morning, but add a protein powder such as this hemp seed one from Trader Joe’s or Planet Fusion’s Vanilla Plant Fusion. High in protein, fiber, and essential amino acids, and makes your morning drink more filling.

4. Add a more substantial morning meal such as gluten-free oatmeal (Trader Joe’s has amazing gluten-free oats that seem exactly like traditional rolled oats) with a handful of dried cranberries for sweetness, raw cashews, cinnamon, and cooled down with a dash of unsweetened non-dairy milk. Or heat up a cup of cooked quinoa from the previous night’s dinner with dried fruit, nuts, cinnamon, and non-dairy milk.

5. Enjoy a raw food bar in the afternoon to satisfy your sweet tooth–they’re easy to keep on hand, easily survive life in the bottom of bags, and can be stepped on without changing shape. Examples: Larabar, Pure Energy, and KIND. These can all be found in any old grocery store, TJ’s, or Whole Foods.

6. Continue with the Detox as your constant (developing your own menus using the guidelines), and veer from the Detox for special weekend days, when you go out to eat (trying your best to keep with the guidelines, but allowing yourself those treats you may have been missing), have potlucks, or attend parties.

7. Do the Detox 1-2 days per week or 7 days a month, and a modified version on the other days.

What else will you do to carry on the healthy changes you made once the Detox is done? Hopefully you’ll all continue drinking all those energizing fluids!

Enjoy this day and the new, healthy you! XOXO

Detox Day 5: Alkaline is Super Fine

Tahini Dressing for Veggies, in SKINNY DISH!

Woohoo to Day 5! Can you see the bread at the end of the tunnel? You’re so close!

Since it’s so so so important, here’s a recycled post on alkalinity from last year’s detox. pHabulous!:

You may or may not have caught the acid/alkaline breeze info in the Detox wind. Well, here it is again: Our blood and tissues love to be at a pH (measure of acidity/alkalinity) of about 7.35-7.45, which is slightly basic/alkaline. This is where your immune system is an immediate bad-guy destroyer and your overall health is sky high. As you loved learning in high school chemistry, the pH scale ranges from 0 to 14 with 0 to 6.9 being acidic, 7 being neutral, and 7.1 to 14 being basic (alkaline).

Contrary to what you may think, foods that are more acidic do not make your blood and tissues more acidic. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Oranges, tomatoes = acidic. But shocker, they make your blood and tissues more alkaline. As you could have guessed, pretty much all veggies, fruits, dark leafies, unprocessed grains, and other healthy foods help to make your blood and tissues more alkaline, while meats, dairy, eggs, sugary goods, highly processed foods, coffee and alcohol make your blood and tissues more acidic. One reason loading up on healthy fluids, fruits, and veggies, and avoiding all the other foods is so good at helping you detox, is because you’re working the alkalinity. For more on pH, check here and here and here.

Now for some extra credit: Want to check your very own pH? Using your SECOND urine of the day, pee on one of these test strips (or ones similar). Is the Detox working? Hurrrahh!

You never thought this would be so much fun! Keep truckin’ and Happy Weekend! XOXO

Detox Day 4: Treat Yourself with a Raw Dessert

No doubt you’re feeling pretty excited that it’s Day 4. You’re now officially a detoxing professional!

To celebrate, treat yourself with this yummy chocolate pudding. You may not have appreciated or tasted all it’s wonderfulness on Monday, but today you definitely will! Add a splash of agave nectar on a non-detox day for more sweetness. Mmm mmm mmm!!

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Chocolate Chia Pudding
Serves 1

1/2 of a banana, mashed
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened soy)*
1/2 teaspoon raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes to let the pudding thicken. Enjoy!

Nutrition Info: 196 calories, 9.5 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 23.5 g carbohydrate, 10 g fiber, 7.5 g sugar, 6.5 g sugar, 9% vitamin C, 7.5% vitamin D, 22% calcium, 11% iron, 8% zinc.

*Non-dairy milk is really truly only raw if you make it yourself from raw nuts or seeds. Cocoa powder isn’t raw, but it works well here and is more readily available.

Many of you have asked about calories. Check last year’s Day 4 post all about calories. Each Detox day has about 1500 calories at a minimum, 60-80 grams of protein, and around 50 grams of fiber. Adding extra servings of nuts, seeds, avocado, fruit, etc. increases all those numbers.

Today’s Plan including a 2-cup serving of Purple Nurple, a 2-cup serving of Curried Lentil Stew, and all the other recommended serving sizes has 1459 calories, 61 grams of protein, and 49 grams of fiber. The average American gets about 12 grams of fiber a day. You may or may not have been the average American prior to this Detox. Regardless, you are moving some serious crud out of your system. Cheers to crud movement!!

So, March On!, and clean, cleanse, and recharge your core some more. Just a few days left!

7-Day Detox: Alternate Recipes

Photo by: Green Plate Studios

Photo by: Green Plate Studios

Detoxers! If the recipes look amazing except for that ONE… here a couple substitutes. Easy, and you likely already have the ingredients:

JUICE:  BEET CARROT APPLE 

SMOOTHIE:  PUMPKIN SMOOTHIE: Use unsweetened non-dairy milk, and keep the agave (lucky you!)

SOUP:  SPICED RED LENTIL, TOMATO, and KALE SOUP

SALAD:  FULLY LOADED KALE SALADUse rice vinegar as a simple dressing

MAIN DISH:  CHICKPEA RATATOUILLE (or the Cannellini Ratatouille from Skinny Dish! if you have a copy (sans bulgur))

Looking forward to eating and drinking with you all!

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