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Recipes

Chocolate Peppermint Protein Shake

Protein shakes are one of my favorite things ever. They are quick to make, easily customizable, and perfect for on the go. Obviously my love of protein shakes is apparent since it’s a part of my blog name!

 

I have a few go to protein shake recipes that I make a few times a week, I thought it would be fun to make one that was perfect for this time of year. I did my normal base for this protein shake – almond milk, half a frozen banana, ice – but instead of adding PB2 I added 1 drop of peppermint essential oil.

 

I was introduced to essential oils this summer, and although I am very much a beginner in that area I really have been loving them. I love diffusing different blends in my oil diffuser, especially lavender at night, and have been adding some into my water as well. I will tell you this – make sure you know that the oil you are using is OK to ingest. That is one thing I do know, you want to use your oils properly so make sure you read your label and only ingest if the label tells you it’s safe.

 

Back to the protein shake – super easy and yummy, and the little amount of essential oil just gives peppermint flavor that makes it just enough. You can always add more, so start off with just one and add more if you would like. Plus you don’t have to worry about any additional calories or unhealthy additives to give it the peppermint flavor. I hope you enjoy!

8-12 ounces almond milk, or liquid of your choice

1/2 frozen banana

5-10 ice cubes

1 drop peppermint essential oil

1 serving chocolate protein powder
Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Do you add anything seasonal to your protein shakes? I would love to hear about it!!

Easy 4 Ingredient Oreo Mint Truffles

I love baking. Every time I think of Christmas, I always think of the baking that goes along with it. I have 4 recipes that are my now perfected Christmas goody recipes that I give to my friends and family, and this is one of them. I really should make them more than once a year… or maybe it’s a good thing I only make them during Christmas time because I could eat 10 of them in one sitting.

 

They are easy to make, delicious, and are only 4 ingredients. All you need is a package of regular Oreo cookies, a block of cream cheese (brought to room temperature), some vanilla almond bark, and a package of Andes Mints.

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I am sure there are 100 different recipes for all different variations of these Oreo truffle balls, but I wanted to share how I do them. After making the truffles, I melt Andes creme de menthe and drizzle them on top. I love that it gives a chocolatey mint flavor to them without being too overwhelmingly minty. I have also seen them made with crushed candy canes on the top. And while I love candy canes, I personally don’t like chunks of hard candy on the tops of these. These are so diverse, you could really play around with the toppings. You can even do green and red candy melts and drizzle them on top for a more festive look!

 

These are definitely not healthy, but since I only make them once a year these are fun holiday treat. On that note, here is the recipe!

 

Crush an entire box of oreo cookies (make sure not to get double stuff!) in a food processor or blender until they are fine. They should be so fine they are just crumbs. Big chunks will make them harder to shape and dip, and harder to mix with the cream cheese.

Mix in the block of room temperature cream cheese with the oreo crumbs until combined. Depending on how big your blender or food processor is, you can add the cream cheese and blend that way. Or, transfer your oreo crumbs to a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix.

 

Next, scoop the mixture onto a cookie sheet. I use a cookie scoop for this, and then let them sit in the fridge for 30 minutes. After they sit for 30 minutes, I take them out and roll them in my hands to make balls. You can skip that step if you want, but I found the mixture is a little too sticky right away and if you put them in the fridge for a bit they will be easier to work with. However you choose to do it, when you are done making the balls, freeze or refrigerate them for at least an hour.

 

 

Once they have chilled, melt your vanilla almond bark. I normally do this in a microwave safe bowl versus the stove top. This is personal preference, as it’s harder to burn in the microwave and easier to reheat in the microwave. When I melt in the microwave, I do it in 30 second intervals until melted, stirring after each 30 seconds.

This step is easy, just put the ball in the almond bark and roll until it’s covered. Place the coated truffle on the cookie sheet, which you can choose to line with parchment paper or leave unlined, I have done both. The chilling step is super important, because if you don’t let them chill they will break apart very easily in the almond bark.

Once you’re done, melt the Andes mints and drizzle on top. I use a fork to drizzle it, it gives them some cool lines that look really nice but are super easy. Put in the fridge to harden and you’re done!! Once they are hardened, keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days, although I seriously doubt they will last that long.

 

These are great to give as a holiday goodie! Super easy and every time I make them everyone loves them. Would love to hear if you make these and if you made any fun additions!!

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

Thanksgiving is normally the kickoff to the season of holidays! It can also be the kickoff to the eating season for most of us. Between holiday parties, baking, and spending time with family, eating can get out of control fast.

I am all about moderation, and will definitely be indulging in a few things on Thanksgiving day. Eating healthy is very important to me right now, and this is one of the things that is going to be on the forefront of my mind this holiday season. If you are like me and want some healthy options this Thanksgiving, I picked my absolute favorite recipes from around the internet to share with you today. I know I will be making at least one of these for Thanksgiving, and the rest during the holiday season to help me stay on track and still feel like I’m indulging!

 

Julia’s Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Cinnamon Butternut Squash, Pecans, and Cranberries

I didn’t like brussel sprouts until earlier this year, and now they are one of my favorite vegetables. My go to recipe is roasting them in the oven with sweet potatoes in a garlic, olive oil, and salt/pepper mixture. This recipe is similar but has a thanksgiving twist with the cranberries and pecans. So yummy!

 

Gimme Some Oven’s Healthier Green Bean Casserole

Who hasn’t at some point in their lives had this green bean casserole? This is one of the classics and Ali over at one of my favorite food blogs – Gimme Some Oven – healthified this holiday classic side dish. Instead of the fried onion topping from a can, she sauted onions in a pan and added some panko breadcrumbs for that crunchy texture. And she makes homemade skinny mushroom sauce versus using cans of cream of mushroom soup.

 

Roasted Cauliflower, Mushroom and Wild Rice “Stuffing”

This stuffing is naturally gluten-free and vegan friendly, but doesn’t compromise on flavor. This is another Thanksgiving side dish from Ali at Gimme Some Oven as well. With wild rice, mushrooms, onion, garlic, cauliflower, and yummy additional toppings that you can customize to your liking this look absolutely delicious! If this isn’t made for Thanksgiving, this is a perfect fall/winter side dish.

 

Slow Cooker Mashed Cauliflower

Potatoes. They are one of my diet pit falls. I love sweets most, but put some mashed potatoes will all the fixings in front of me and I just dig in to that bowl of comfort food. I love whoever decided to turn cauliflower into something that tastes as good as regular potatoes. I also love a good crock pot recipe. This recipe by Tammilee is delicious and easy! A few healthy swaps: ditch the sour cream for plain greek yogurt, less (or no!) cheese, and turkey bacon (or none!) to make this a truly healthy side dish.

 

Skinny Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

There’s no way I wasn’t going to include a dessert on here, and these yummy skinny pumpkin cheesecake bars from Amy’s Healthy Baking look like the perfect healthy dessert this fall. She substitutes brown rice cereal for graham crackers in her crust (genius!) and uses greek yogurt and greek yogurt cream cheese instead of traditional cream cheese to lighten up this cheesecake.

 

I am looking forward to trying all of these recipes and would love to hear from you if you try them or plan on trying them! Check out these lovely ladies blogs as well, they are all super talented (obviously, look at their recipes)! Do you have a favorite healthy Thanksgiving recipe that you do make?

4 Ingredient Strawberry Banana Protein Shake

With the words protein shake in my blog name, you had to expect at some point I post about my favorite protein shakes right? I am one of those people that just loves protein shakes and drinks them daily.

 

Throwing everything in a blender, pouring it in a cup, and taking it with me while I’m running out the door (or just being able to keep it away from my kids, although my toddler loves this one as much as I do!) is very appealing to me. I also attribute drinking protein shakes to losing my post-baby weight as well as keeping me on track in general.

 

I am a firm believer in trial and error, and some people just don’t like protein shakes at all. I totally understand, but I love to share with others what works for me in hopes that it might help someone find something that works for them. I have made plenty of protein shakes in the last 5 years, and here are a few quick tips to make them more satisfying:

 

  • I like my shakes to have a thicker consistency, think milkshake. To help achieve that, you want to use less liquid and more ice/frozen fruit. Most of the recipes I share won’t have more than 8-10 ounces of liquid. It is easy to adjust if you want it thinner, you just want to add more liquid/less ice/less frozen fruit.
  • A lot of my shakes will use almond milk and frozen bananas. I have personally found these two components to make my shakes smoother and provide a thicker consistency.
  • Mind your macros! Unless stated otherwise, I consume shakes for meal replacement purposes. They will be higher in calories, high in protein, and higher in carbohydrates. If you don’t want this to be a full meal replacement, just look at the protein/carb ratio on the protein you use. If the protein is high and carbs are low, it’s meant to be used for between meals and pre/post workout.
  • It’s all about the protein powder! I have honestly tried over 25 different brands/kinds/flavors of protein. I have narrowed it down to two kinds of protein that I like to use. I use Isagenix IsaLean (regular and PRO) for meal replacement, and I use INTEK for snacks, recipe uses, and pre/post workout. I will be covering more about the kind of protein I use and why in a later post where I can post more specifics.

 

8-10 ounces Silk Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1/2 frozen banana
1 cup frozen strawberries
2 scoops Strawberry Protein Powder – I use strawberry Isagenix IsaLean

 

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

 

Do you have a go to meal replacement shake? I would love to hear what it is in the comments below!

 

 

Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookies

I am a firm believer in an 80/20 diet. 80% of the time I am going to eat healthy whole foods that energize me, fuel me, and keep me on track. The other 20% of the time I give myself some slack, not only so I can enjoy life but also so I don’t fall completely off the fitness/wellness wagon.
That being said, these cookies definitely fall in the 20% category. I had some really amazing caramel apple oatmeal cookies a few years ago. Oh man were they good!! My favorite cookies of all time are oatmeal raisin, so when I had oatmeal cookies with little bits of caramel in them I was in love. But, the cookies came in a premade frozen dough and were roughly $15 for 2 dozen cookies. I didn’t mind paying for them once, but in addition to them being a little steep in price I couldn’t find them anywhere but a school fundraising catalog that only came around once a year. So with fall finally here, I decided to recreate them. They are chewy, and full of yummy fall flavor. They have cinnamon, maple syrup, applesauce, caramel bits, and oats. What more could you ask for in a fall cookie?

Look at these yummy caramel bits!

 

Most other recipes for apple oatmeal cookies will have cooked chunks of apple in them; however I personally am not a huge fan of apple chunks in my cookies. The only apple you will find in this recipe is the applesauce I throw in. It gives just enough apple flavor that you can taste it, but not too overwhelming and you aren’t chewing chunks of apple. If you modify it to include some chunks of apple, go for it! This is just my personal preference. Adding in apples would increase the liquid content in the batter (the water in the apples will cook out as they are baking in the oven), so keep that in mind if you do.

 

1/2 C unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
1 C brown sugar
1 C white sugar
1/2 C cinnamon applesauce
2 tsp maple syrup
2 eggs
2 1/4 C flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 C oats
1 C caramel bits

 

Preheat oven to 375. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and both sugars until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add in the applesauce, and mix. Add eggs and the maple syrup, mix for another 2 minutes.

 

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in thirds, mixing slowly until just combined. Add in oats and caramel bits, mixing until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.

 

Scoop cookies onto cookie sheet, bake 8-10 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes, then remove to finish cooling process on a cooling rack. Using a 1 1/2 tbsp cookie scoop, this recipe made 4 dozen (48) cookies. If using a bigger or smaller cookie scoop, adjust baking time accordingly.

 

 

I hope you enjoy this delightfully delicious fall cookie! Do you like apple chunks in your desserts? Am I the only one that doesn’t? I love apple pie, if that makes anything better! 😉 If you make these, I would love to know what you think in the comments below!

Easy Slow Cooker Applesauce

 

As you will come to find out fairly quickly, fall is my favorite season ever. All the vibrant colors, the cool weather, and the fact I get to snuggle with blankets and wear comfy sweaters has always been appealing and enjoyable to me. One of the first things I do, besides getting some kind of pumpkin coffee drink, is bring fall into my home. And by that I mean make my house look, smell, and feel like fall.

 

Something that helps me accomplish this is this *super easy* slower cooker applesauce recipe. Not only will my house smell like cinnamon and apples, but this always makes a few mason jars worth of applesauce that my family enjoys all fall long. We love applesauce in our house, so it doesn’t last long! I don’t know about you but I am always offered apples in the fall by friends and family. And I always take people up on the offer for apples, no matter how many, because this recipe is that easy!

 

 

8-10 cups apples, peeled and diced
1-2 cups water
1/2 cup – 2 cups sugar
3 cinnamon sticks (if you don’t want to use cinnamon sticks, 2-3 tablespoons of ground cinnamon is fine!)

Put all ingredients in crockpot on low for 5-6 hours (or high 3-4 hours). Stir once an hour. Once apples can be easily mashed with a fork, remove cinnamon sticks and mash with potato masher. Can in mason jars or store in airtight container.

 

**** A few notes about the variables in this recipe ***

  1. The amount of water and sugar are going to vary depending on the apples you have. If you have a sweeter apple, less sugar is needed. I have also found some apples need more or less water. Halfway through the cooking process I eyeball how the apples are cooking and determine if I should add more water or not. If you aren’t sure, add a 1/4 cup and reassess as needed.
  2. Because the apples are piping hot coming out of the slow cooker, it is super easy to can them in mason jars. When you can items, you need the mason jar lid and seal to properly seal. You know it is properly sealed if you hear a “pop” once canning or if you can push down on the top of the mason jar lid without popping it down. The main way I can in mason jars is by using heat, so I will put my applesauce straight from the slow cooker into a mason jar, seal it with the proper lid and seal, and within 30 minutes on the counter I hear them “pop” to seal.
  3. If storing in an airtight container versus canning in a mason jar, I would personally use within 7-10 days.
  4. It might look like a weird color after mashing, but because of the cinnamon it will be a brownish color. Don’t be alarmed, it will still taste delicious!! If you don’t want the cinnamon in, you definitely don’t need to add it!

Healthier Pumpkin Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Bread

I am one of those people that is ready for fall by the middle of June. There is something about that crisp fall air that evokes a feeling of relaxation in my life. Living in ND, winters are long, summers are short, but spring and fall are so fast they are over before you know it. So when September 1st hits, even if it’s 80 degrees with 95% humidity, I am cuddled up on my couch with a pumpkin drink and a fall candle lit with my fireplace on.

 

When fall is finally here, not only am I drinking pumpkin drinks but I also have my mind set on baking as many pumpkin things as possible. The way my house smells when something pumpkin is in the oven makes my heart happy. Ah, the simple things in life!

 

Although baking is one of my favorite things, baking (especially fall goodies) is hard to do when it doesn’t help me with my weight loss goals. One thing that helps is giving most of my baking away to friends and family, but I of course have to taste test before it goes out the door! Enter my healthier pumpkin cream cheese chocolate chip bread! You don’t need to give this one away 😉

 

 

Now, I say healthier versus healthy because of the cream cheese and chocolate chips. These can be easily omitted or substituted for healthier ingredients, but a little chocolate and cream cheese won’t derail my entire meal plan. For this recipe I used 1/3 fat cream cheese versus full fat cream cheese, substituted white flour for white whole wheat flour, cut half the sugar and substituted baking truvia instead of white processed sugar, and used applesauce and greek yogurt instead of oil. Again, you could make even healthier substitutions by getting rid of the baking truvia all together. But be warned, if you use a liquid sweetener alternative then your ratio of liquid ingredients to dry ingredients will need to be adjusted. I would recommend trying the recipe through once and adjust from there.

 

With this recipe, because it has half the sugar of regular pumpkin bread it will not be overly sweet. It is still delicious and full of yummy pumpkin flavor, and the chocolate chips and cream cheese swirl make it so yummy, I doubt you will miss all the sugar I took out. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Healthier Pumpkin Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Bread

2 1/4 C white whole wheat flour, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
2/3 C baking Truvia
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 C plain greek yogurt
1/4 C applesauce
1 C pumpkin
2 eggs
1 C mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift white whole wheat flour, and from sifted flour measure out 2 1/4 cup. In the bowl with the measured flour, add the baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon. Whisk all dry ingredients together, and set aside.

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, mix together the baking Truvia, maple syrup, plain greek yogurt, applesauce, pumpkin, and eggs. Scrape the sides as needed. (Now, when you get done whisking the wet ingredients, it will look like pumpkin baby food and not at all appetizing. Bare with me).

 

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients slowly until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix this, I normally stop when 95% of the flour is incorporated and then stop.

 

Removing the whisk attachment, gently fold in the cup of chocolate chips with a spatula.

 

Cream Cheese Swirl Recipe
8 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 Tbsp white whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking truvia
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Cream all ingredients in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with an electric hand mixer. Once it is creamy and smooth it is done, around 2 minutes.

Layer half of the pumpkin bread batter into a bottom of a greased loaf pan, followed by all of the cream cheese mixture, then layer the other half of the pumpkin bread batter on top.

 

Bake bread covered with tin foil for 60 minutes. Check for doneness, and if necessary continue baking uncovered checking the bread in 5 minute intervals. Let cool before serving.

 

 

A few notes from testing this recipe a few times through:
1) I baked this covered for the majority of baking because this bread darkened very easily around the edges but would take longer to cook through in the middle. If you choose to bake uncovered, be warned it browns quickly!
2) In total this bread baked for 75 minutes, but will totally depend on your oven.
3) When I uncovered the bread at minute 60, I kept tin foil on the outside edges to avoid burning the edges. I think it turned out perfectly!

 

 

I hope you try this recipe and love it just as much as I do! If you do try it, I would love to hear from you in the comments! What is your favorite fall recipe?