Tag Archives: Healthy

Two Quick & Healthy Snacks Under 200 Calories

I often get asked questions about what I eat day-to-day, and what kinds of things I like to snack on. Snacking is totally essential to my life – I’m the type of person who gets hungry more than 3 times a day, and if I don’t snack in-between meals I become – what the husband calls – “hangry.” Basically hungry + angry, the side effects of which are usually taken out on him. I don’t like snacking on packaged foods – because most packaged foods will just cause a spike in your blood sugar, which eventually results in a blood sugar crash (and then you’re back to being hangry).

My criteria for putting together healthy snacks include:

  • The snack should have a good combination of fiber and protein, so it’s both filling and nutritious – and of course – tastes delicious. A great example of this is carrot sticks and hummus, or high fiber crackers and laughing cow cheese (or low fat string cheese).
  • The snack shouldn’t have more than 200 calories, because then it’s encroaching on meal territory which you don’t want
  • Avoid pre-packaged snacks if possible (e.g. chips, granola bars, protein bars, etc.) Although – there are healthy packaged options of all these things which work well if you’re on the go.

Today – I thought I’d share two of my favorite healthy snacks. Each snack has only 2 ingredients, is less than 200 calories, and only takes 2 minutes to make! Don’t you love the running theme here? 🙂

Snack #1: Fresh blueberries and Low Fat Cottage Cheese

I love how filling this snack is – and the creaminess of the cottage cheese goes great with the sweet/tart flavor of the blueberries. I go for low fat (vs. non fat) cottage cheese because it still retains the great creamy texture but is only ~100 calories per 1/2 cup serving and has about 15g protein. The blueberries add a good amount of fiber (3-4g per 3/4 cup) and are about 60 calories for 3/4 cup.

Mixing the two together gives you a great snack for only about 160 calories! And trust me, this will keep you full for a good amount of time – it’s one of my “go-tos” between lunch and dinner. And it helps that the blue and white looks so pretty and fresh together in the bowl – I always eat with my eyes before I eat with my mouth.

Snack #2: Brown Rice Cakes and Almond Butter

I love all nut butters. Peanut, Almond, Cashew, Sunflower Seed, etc – the list goes on and on. I especially love this Almond Butter with roasted flaxseeds from Trader Joe’s – it gives you a nice serving of omega 3s and increases the fiber/protein in this nutty spread. 1 Tbsp of Almond Butter has only 100 calories, and has about 4g protein and 2g fiber. The brown rice cakes give you a ton of volume (one cake is huge!) for only 60 calories and 1g fiber.

I love how creamy this nut butter is – it’s definitely one of my favorites. Putting the two together gives you about a 160 calorie, filling, deliciously creamy snack. For some extra fun, you can add a drizzle of honey (1 tsp has about 20 calories), or a few raisins on top.

Try out these perfect pairings and let me know what you think. Both should keep you feeling full (but not heavy) and energetic (but not on a sugar high) for the time in between meals. And they definitely keep me from becoming hangry.

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Quick & Healthy: Black Bean and Pumpkin Veggie Burgers

It’s no secret that I adore veggie burgers. I just love all of the different flavors and ingredients you can pack into one delicious burger – it’s the perfect combination of health and comfort food. Yes – health and comfort food can go together! I’m always on the lookout for new veggie burger recipes, even though I’ve already made quite a few: my five ways with a Gardenburger patty, my southwest pinto bean burgers, and my budget-friendly black bean burgers. But recently I came across a recipe from Fannetastic Food for Black Bean & Pumpkin Burgers. I was intrigued by the idea of adding pumpkin into the burger mixture, and loved how simple the recipe was.

Btw – it’s also no secret that I’m a “fan” of Fannetastic Food – she always comes up with great recipes that are easy to make and healthy. The recipe with my notes are below, and you can see Anne’s original recipe and pictures here. Thanks Anne for a great recipe that was ridiculously easy to make (took less than 30 min), tasted great, and was full of nutritional goodness!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup black beans (rinsed and drained) – I basically just used 1 15oz can of black beans – once you drain out the liquid/etc. it ends up being just a little over 1 cup
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin – make sure you get just pure, canned pumpkin (the only ingredient should be pumpkin!) make sure there are no sugars, etc. added and definitely don’t get “pumpkin pie filling” or anything to that effect
  • 1 Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour (I just used regular whole wheat flour and it turned out fine)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (I might have added a bit more!)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • If you like your burgers with a bit of a kick, add a *small* pinch of cayenne pepper too
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • Veggie burger fixings: ketchup, sliced red onions, sliced roma tomatoes, pepper jack cheese, whole wheat bun, spinach leaves (optional)

Directions

Step 1: Combine all ingredients (black beans through chili powder or cayenne if you’re using it) in a food processor and mix until mostly pureed – with a few chunks of black beans left. Note – you can also mash all the ingredients in a bowl, I used the food processor because it was faster and easier (for me).

Step 2: Once the bean mixture is at a desired consistency, form into 2 patties. Spray a large skillet with olive oil cooking spray, and cook on medium heat for 5-10 min on each side until lightly browned.

This what they looked like when they started cooking…

And what they looked like when they were almost done

One thing to note about this recipe is that the veggie burgers aren’t as “hearty” or “dense” as your normal Gardenburger or Boca burger patty. They tend to fall apart a bit more easily and are a bit softer. I really enjoyed the different consistency of the burgers – felt a little “falafel-esque” which was fun to eat. The husband thought they were a little too soft for him, and would have liked them to be more dense/thick like a traditional veggie burger patty. But he did say that regardless of the texture of the patties, the burgers had amazing flavor (and you couldn’t taste the pumpkin which was pretty cool) and were a great weeknight dinner. I pared the patties with a simple combination of pepper jack cheese, sliced onions, sliced tomatoes and ketchup, on a whole wheat bun of course. So satisfying and healthy!

 

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Simple, Healthy Veggie Chili!

recipe_chiliI found this recipe for a vegetarian “chili” on foodtv.com and modified it a bit to be healthier and have more veggies! It’s super easy to make, takes only about 20-30min max, and tastes great! My modified recipe is below – the original is in the link above. This is a great recipe for first time cooks who are just starting out – you really can’t go wrong with this one so it’ll boost your cooking confidence right away 🙂

This meal also packs a nutritious punch with the antioxidant rich red peppers, red onions, and tomatoes; the fiber filled black & kidney beans, and the whole grain goodness of brown rice! 

It tastes as leftovers and can be used as toppings for nachos (using baked tortilla chips of course!) or eaten with crusty, toasted whole grain bread. 

Try it out and let me know how you like it!

Ingredients 

2 cups instant brown rice
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup prepared salsa
1 tablespoon onion flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can white or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (11-ounce) can corn, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup instant brown rice 
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1-2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (11-ounce) can corn, drained
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup prepared salsa (you can use 3/4 cup if you like more “sauce” in your chili)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions 

1. Cook rice according to package directions, keep warm, set aside

2. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute the bell pepper and red onion in the olive oil, until the onion is cooked (about 5 min); add tomatoes at the end and cook for 1 min

3. Add black beans, red kidney beans, tomato sauce, salsa, corn; stir to combine thoroughly

4. Add remaining ingredients (all spices); stir to combine; simmer for 5 min

5. Serve with brown rice (I usually put the brown rice at the bottom of the bowl, chili on top, and stir to combine).

Enjoy!

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One of my favorite recipes – Taleggio and Pear Paninis

One Saturday morning, I was watching the Food Network and one of my favorite chefs – Giada di Laurentiis. I’m thinking of making this recipe for dinner tonight – so thought I’d share it with all of you. You can find it on the Food Network Website but I have modified it slightly to make it healthier!

ei1004_panini_lg

Ingredients

  • 1 (1-pound) loaf ciabatta bread (or 8 slices country bread)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 ounces Taleggio cheese or brie, sliced
  • 2 large pears, apples or peaches, cored and cut into 1/4-inch wedges
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces arugula or spinach

My Modifications

  • 1 (1-pound) loaf ciabatta bread (or 8 slices country bread) – Instead of ciabatta, I use whole wheat baguettes or these whole wheat rolls from Safeway (decreases the calorie count and increases the fiber count!)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil – I definitely don’t use close to this much. I use about 2 tbsp max for all of the paninis, and I use a pastry brush to brush the olive oil on the bread (so I use the minimal amount while still getting the flavor!)
  • 8 ounces Taleggio cheese or brie, sliced – I couldn’t find Taleggio cheese at my local Trader Joes, but they did have great Brie and Fontina cheeses – either one works great! I don’t think I use 8 oz either, I use less – maybe half that? I don’t need that much cheese in my sandwiches so I just put enough to taste – err on the side of less rather than more as long as the sandwich is still cheesy!
  • 2 large pears, apples or peaches, cored and cut into 1/4-inch wedges – I like pears the best, and I use about 1/2 a pear per sandwich (at least!)
  • 2 tablespoons honey – I don’t use more than 2 tsp per sandwich
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces arugula or spinach

Directions

Preheat the panini machine. (If you don’t have a panini machine you can also use a grill pan or a large skillet! Just use another pan to press down on the paninis to give that “grilled” feeling.) Cut the ciabatta loaf into 4 equal pieces. Halve each piece horizontally to make 4 sandwiches. Brush the bread on both sides with olive oil and place the bottom-half of the bread slices in the panini machine in a single layer. Heat until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. Continue with the remaining top slices of bread.

While the top slices of the bread are in the Panini machine, begin forming the sandwiches. Divide the cheese among the warm bread. Cover the cheese with slices of fruit. Drizzle the fruit with honey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with a handful of arugula. Place the warmed top half of the bread over the arugula and return the competed sandwich to the panini machine for 1 to 2 minutes more to finish melting the cheese. Remove from the panini machine. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve immediately. Enjoy!

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