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Healthy Thanksgiving Desserts

I know for many people their weakness is sweets, especially when it comes time for the big Thanksgiving meal! I mean, who doesn't love pecan or pumpkin pie!

Did you know pecan pie on average has over 500 calories and 27 grams of fat? Yikes is right!! I knew there has to be a middle ground, so I went researching for some healthy alternative desserts, and boy was I in luck!

Here are some healthy Thanksgiving desserts:

Sweet Potato Pie

A great way to get the taste of pumpkin pie is to make a sweet potato pie instead! The majority of the sweetness is coming from the sweet potato instead of added refined sugar. Once you take a bite, you actually might be converted to a sweet potato pie lover instead of the classic pumpkin pie!

One slice comes out to 240 calories compared to an average pumpkin pie slice with 323 calories. 

Paleo Pumpkin Bread

You might be tempted to pass over this paleo pumpkin bread recipe, but give it a chance because not only does it taste like normal moist pumpkin bread, but it is much healthier. It comes out at 156 calories per slice, which is a pretty good deal when it comes to dessert! You simply use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil or butter, and a mixture of coconut and almond flours in place of white flour. 

Apple Crisp

This recipe is for you ladies out there who want to be in the kitchen for the least amount of time as possible! All you have to do is chop apples, mix the other ingredients together and top the combo with oats. Put it into the oven for 25 minutes and you have yourself a delicious Thanksgiving dessert!

Peanut Butter & Pumpkin Shakeology Cups

Now, this isn't one of your typical Thanksgiving desserts, but when you add in the pumpkin, it automatically gets put into this category! Each cup is less than 100 calories and takes about 30 minutes to make from start to finish. Give this classic candy a twist with the pumpkin puree!

I hope these healthy Thanksgiving dessert recipes are helpful for your family this holiday season! I know I'm looking forward to trying out the sweet potato pie to see if my boys can even tell a difference!

 

Love, Melissa

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Fried Foods with a Healthy Twist

healthybakedchicken.jpg

Now, who doesn’t crave fried chicken every once in a while? Maybe you are a chicken fried steak or coconut shrimp fan? That crunch is really what we crave!

So, there has to be a healthier way to get that crunch, right? YES! Here are some creative ways to cook your favorite fried meals, but with healthier ingredients. To be clear, adding no batter or breading to your meat is going to be the cleanest and healthiest option, BUT there is a time and place for everything…even fried chicken. 😄

 

Breaded Fish Fillets with Almond Flour

Almond flour is a great alternative to your typical breading because it is literally just ground up almonds, so you are getting the same nutrients as if you were eating the nut raw. Almonds are full of monounsaturated fat, protein, fiber and Vitamin E.

This is how you make it:

“To replicate the bread-crumb effect, whisk two whole eggs together in a dish. In another dish, mix one cup of almond flour with salt and pepper and any dried herbs you like. Dip fish fillets into the beaten eggs then into the almond flour until the fish is completely coated. Roast the fillets in the oven at 400°F for 10 minutes for thin fillets, and up to 15 minutes for thicker ones.” - Beachbody

 

Zucchini Fried with Flax Meal

Ever heard of flax meal? If you have a gluten intolerance, this is the perfect breading for you because it is a gluten-free flour alternative. You are going to get protein, fiber, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids ALA and antioxidant lignans. This ingredient is best consumed with water because it is rich in fiber, so pairing it with veggies like zucchini is a match made in heaven.

This is how you make it:

“Mix one cup of flax meal with salt and pepper, whisk two eggs together, then dip veggies — such as zucchini strips or rounds — in the egg mixture, then in the breading. Bake until golden and crispy at 375°F for 25–30 minutes.” - Beachbody

 

Battered Coconut Shrimp

Coconut flour is the perfect ingredient is you are looking to batter your meat instead of bread it. It contains magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and fatty acids, which help you feel full. It also contains five grams of fiber and two grams of protein per two tablespoons.

This is how you make it:

“To create a coconut flour batter, mix half of a cup of the flour with one egg, one and a half teaspoons baking powder, and salt and pepper. Dip shrimp (this recipe can coat 20–24 pieces of shrimp, depending on how large) into the batter and bake at 375°F for 20 minutes.” - Beachbody

 

Brown Rice Flour Chicken Fingers

Chicken fingers are a family favorite around my house, especially Raising Cane’s, but you can only indulge in that greasy goodness ever so often if you really want to reach your health goals. I wish it was the other way around, but we will have to live with the facts.

If you want a whole lot of protein and fiber, one cup of brown rice flour contains about 11 grams of protein and seven grams of fiber.

This is how you make it:

“To make chicken fingers: Mix half a cup of brown rice flour with one egg, one and a half teaspoons baking powder, salt and pepper. Add extra flavor with either smoked paprika or cayenne pepper, if desired. Dip chicken pieces in the batter, and bake at 375°F for 20 minutes for a delicate, crispy, kid-pleasing meal.” - Beachbody

 

I hope these baked and better-for-you recipes are helpful with your dinner plans to help your family stay healthy while also eating the meals they love!

 

Love, Melissa 

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The Best Way to Make Brussel Sprouts

When it comes to fall, I just love everything about it – the weather, colors and clothes. I also love fall food because somehow it tastes like the season!

I grew up hating eating Brussel sprouts…just like most kids, but I have had this recent obsession with them. I think the trick is to combine them with sweet ingredients to mask their natural bitter taste. Give this recipe a try and see what your kids think – I bet they will be surprised they actually want to take another bite of a dish with icky Brussel sprouts! 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Cinnamon Butternut Squash, Pecans, and Cranberries

Ingredients:

 Roasted Brussels Sprouts:

  • 3 cups Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, yellow leaves removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt, to taste

Roasted Butternut Squash:

  • 1 and ½ pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed into 1-inch cubes (Yields about 4 cups of uncooked cubed butternut squash)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Other Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pecan halves1
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2-4 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)

Instructions

Roasted Brussels sprouts:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease the foil-lined baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Make sure Brussels sprouts have trimmed ends and yellow leaves are removed. Then, slice all Brussels sprouts in half. In a medium bowl, combine halved Brussels sprouts, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt (to taste), and toss to combine. Place onto a foil-lined baking sheet, cut-side down, and roast in the oven at 400 F for about 20-25 minutes. During the last 5-10 minutes of roasting, turn them over for even browning, the cut sides should be nicely and partially charred but not blackened.

Roasted butternut squash:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease the foil-lined baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine cubed butternut squash (peeled and seeded), 1 tablespoon of olive oil, maple syrup and cinnamon. Then toss to mix.
  3. Place butternut squash in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once half-way through baking, until softened.
  4. Note: You can roast both Brussels sprouts and butternut squash on two separate baking sheets at the same time, on the same rack in the oven – that’s what I did.

Final Steps:

In a large bowl, combine roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted butternut squash, pecans, and cranberries, and mix to combine.

(OPTIONAL): For more sweetness, add 2 or 4 tablespoons of maple syrup, if desired – do not add all maple syrup at once, start with 2 tablespoons, then add more, if desired, and toss with the salad ingredients to combine.

Recipe from Julia’s Album!

 

Love, Melissa 

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Jack-O-Lantern Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Photo by  Beachbody

Photo by Beachbody

You can get so creative with some of your old recipes when it is Halloween! For example, check out my blog post about Healthy Halloween Snacks. There are some spooky ideas 👻 you might want to try…but don’t worry, they are still healthy and delicious.

So instead of baking your typical stuffed peppers, make them little Jack-O-Lantern peppers! All you have to do is cut out the inside of the pepper then cut out the eyes, nose and mouth just like a normal pumpkin Jack-O-Lantern. Thankfully, peppers are WAY easier to cut through so you don’t have to break a sweat in the kitchen. Hope you enjoy the process and the end product!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1 garlic, minced
  • 1/4 onion, minced
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 large sweet ORANGE bell peppers, washed
  • 1 cup fat-free chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
  • Olive Oil spray
  • 6 tbsp part skim shredded cheddar cheese*
Photo by  Beachbody

Photo by Beachbody

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Lightly spray olive oil spray in a medium nonstick skillet and heat on a medium heat.
  2. Add onion, garlic and cilantro and saute about 2 minutes, add ground turkey, salt, garlic powder, cumin and cook meat for 4 to 5 minutes until meat is completely cooked through.
  3. Add 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and 1/2 cup of chicken broth, mix well and simmer on low for about 5 minutes. Combine cooked rice and meat together.
  4. Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise, and remove all seeds. Make your Jack-O-Lantern face - Get as creative as you wish!
  5. Spoon 2/3 cup meat mixture into each pepper half and place in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Top each with 1 tbsp cheese. Pour the remainder of the chicken broth on the bottom of the pan.
  6. Cover tight with aluminum foil and bake for about 45 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and serve right away.

*check labels for gluten-free

Nutrition Information

Yield: 6 servings, Serving Size: 1/2

Amount Per Serving:

  • Calories: 221
  • Total Fat: 3g
  • Saturated Fat: g
  • Cholesterol: 61mg
  • Sodium: 248mg
  • Carbohydrates: 19g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Protein: 18g

Recipe from the skinnytaste blog. 

 

Love, Melissa

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Hide That Junk with Fake Books

Sometimes I look around my house and think "How the heck did all of this clutter get here?" I mean, some of this stuff I don't even know where it came from! And then there are those essential items like your Wi-Fi router that are just plain ugly. Who wants to look at that thing!

So I was researching creative ways to hide them, and I came across the idea of hiding your junk with fake books! What a brilliant idea...truly.

All you have to do is collect some old hardcover books and cut the inside pages out. You can get old books from garage sales, thrift stores or recycled book stores. You might even have some lying around the house. If you don’t have any books, you can always cover some cardboard with cute fabric. You would never know the difference!

 

What you need:

Hardcover Books
 Small Crate or Box
Hot Glue Gun
Exacto Knife
Scissors

 

First, you cut out the inside pages of the books so you are left with just the shell. Use an exacto knife so your cut is "exact" haha, unless the book is SUPER old and the pages just fall out on their own.

Photo by  Sewing Barefoot

Second, find a crate or box that can hold all of your junk. It doesn’t matter what it looks like because it will be completely hidden. Measure out how many book covers you need to cover the whole crate.

Third, cut off the front and back of the book covers with the exacto knife. Make sure to leave the front or back of two of the books because those will be on the side of your crate. 

Photo by  Sewing Barefoot

Lastly, hot glue those puppies together, and your project is complete! Now go hide that junk that has been laying around for who knows how long. 

Photo by  Sewing Barefoot

I found the instructions for this project on the Sewing Barefoot blog, so go check it out for more details to beautifully hide your junk! 😄

 

Love, Melissa

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Healthy Halloween Themed Snacks

We love dressing up for Halloween, so why not dress up your favorite healthy snacks in costume too?!

Forget the sugary candy corn and caramel apples. These little treats are decked out in costume, which makes them super ADORABLE, but they are also way better for you than your typical Halloween treats.

Now you don’t have to feel ashamed about eating that candy you bought for your kids…Don't worry, we've all done it! :) 

Apple Mummies

Photo by  Marci Coombs

Photo by Marci Coombs

Wrap up your apples in gauze tape, add some candy eyes, and viola, you have a genuine mummified apple ready to be devoured!

Banana Ghosts and Orange Pumpkins

Get a scare out of your kids by making some banana ghosts with chocolate covered raisins! If you’re bringing this to a party, peel a few clementine oranges and use a sprig of celery for the stem to make a miniature pumpkin patch.

Veggie Jack-O-Lantern & Frankenstein

Nix the boring veggie tray when Halloween comes around. Organize some carrots, black olives and broccoli to make a Jack-O-Lantern! Then put your yummy green veggies on a separate plate and make a Frankenstein. Give your kids the reigns on this one and see what they come up with!

Jack-O-Lantern Fruit Cups

Turn your oranges into mini Jack-O-Lanterns by cutting off the top, scooping out the middle and carving a face on the side. Then just fill them with your favorite berries!

Hard-Boiled Ghosts

Photo by  Wit & Whistle

This is such an easy craft that makes lunchtime so much fun! If your kids like hard boiled eggs in their lunch box, sneak one of these decorated ones in there and see if you can give them a scare. Then, when they get home, let them decorate the rest of the eggs!

 

Check out the Beachbody Blog for more Halloween treat ideas! 

 

Love, Melissa 

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3 Pumpkin-Inspired Recipes

It's now Pumpkin Spice Latte season, but who said pumpkin flavored things have to stop there?! We can use this wonderful veggie in SO MANY different recipes from breakfasts to soups and desserts.

Check out some of these creative pumpkin-inspired recipe ideas!

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Ingredients:

   1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
   1 3/4 cups almond milk
   1/4 cup pumpkin puree
   1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
   1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
   1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
   1/2 cup chopped pecans
   1/4 cup maple syrup

Instructions:

  1. Combine oats and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until desired consistency is reached, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg until heated through, about 1 minute.
  3. Serve immediately, garnished with pecans and maple syrup, if desired.

 

Thai Coconut Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients:

•   1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
•   1 medium onion, diced
•   4 cloves garlic, minced
•   1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
•   2 1/4 cups store-bought or homemade pumpkin purée  
•   2 1/2 cups chicken stock
    1 (13.5-oz.) can unsweetened coconut milk
•   Sour cream, for serving
•   Pumpkin seeds, for serving

Instructions:

  1. Add the butter to a medium sauté pan set over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, add the onions, garlic and curry powder and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Transfer the mixture to a blender.
  2. Add the pumpkin purée and chicken stock to the blender and blend until combined. Pour the soup into a large stock pot set over medium heat then whisk in the coconut milk. Cook the soup, stirring occasionally, until it is warmed throughout. Taste and season it with salt and pepper.
  3. When ready to serve, divide the soup into bowls and garnish with sour cream and chopped pumpkin seeds.

 

Flourless Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients:

• 1 cup pumpkin puree
• 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
• 2 eggs
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 4 tablespoons almond butter
• 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
• 2 and 1/4 cup rolled oats
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and then grease or line a muffin tin for 12 muffins.
  2. Starting with the wet ingredients first (pumpkin, maple syrup, eggs, etc.) layer everything except the chocolate chips into a blender or a food processor and blend for about 30 seconds, or until smooth.
  3. Using a spoon, gently stir the chocolate chips into the batter. Pour the batter into the muffin tin, filling each about 3/4th of the way full. Bake in the oven for 22 minutes, until light golden brown.
  4. Allow to cool for at least 10-15 minutes before stuffing in your face.

 

I hope you enjoy these fall pumpkin recipes! If you try any of them, I would love to hear back on your thoughts. Just send me an email by clicking the button below. Hope you have a great week!

Love, Melissa

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Waffles Just got a "Whole Wheat" Healthier

Waffles just got back on my recipe list!! Most of the time, waffles are made from the exact same ingredients as pancakes, just with more butter, which means they are a no go. Well, I found a waffle recipe that will blow your mind because it still has the crunch we know and love, and it is WAY better for you than what you’re probably used to. Say hello to whole wheat waffles!

Now, instead of pouring a helping of maple syrup on top of your waffle, sweeten it with some fresh fruit instead! Maybe even try some peanut butter or Greek yogurt. Another trick is to make a simple fruit sauce by heating berries in a pan coated with nonstick spray for 2–3 minutes.

If your kids are big Eggo fans, these will be the perfect replacement. For freezing these babies, just arrange the waffles in a single layer on abaking sheet lined with parchment paper (once they’ve cooled). Freeze them for two hours and transfer them to a freezer-safe bag.

Then treat them the same as your classic Eggo. Pop one or two in the toaster until they are the right amount of crisp!

Total Time: 40 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 30 min.
Yield: 10 servings, 1 waffle each

Ingredients:

• 2 cups whole wheat flour
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 Tbsp. baking powder
• ¼ cup ground flax seed
• ½ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
• 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
• 2¾ cups unsweetened almond milk (or low-fat (1%) milk)
• ¼ cup pure maple syrup
• 2 Tbsp. sunflower oil
• Nonstick cooking spray

Preparation:

1. Combine flours, baking powder, flax seed, and salt in a medium bowl; mix well. Set aside.

2. Combine eggs, almond milk, maple syrup, and oil in a large bowl; mix well. Add flour mixture. Mix until blended.

3. Pour ¾ cup of batter at a time onto hot waffle iron, lightly coated with spray. Cook waffles until golden brown and crisp.

4. One serving equals one waffle; leftover waffles can be wrapped up and frozen.

 

Love, Melissa

Recipe from the Team Beachbody Blog

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3 Week Yoga Retreat - At Home!

When you saw the word yoga, you were probably like "No way José!" because it can be intimidating, right? Well, I'm not so bendy or flexible either, and I can easily complete these workouts!

Yoga has so many benefits for the body, and it is a great way to get back into working out because it is easy on your joints. 


Benefits of Yoga

• Increases flexibility
• Reduces risk for injury
• Improves respiration, energy and vitality
• Increases muscle strength and tone

You don't have to know any complicated poses or be abe to stand on your head! If you have a yoga mat, you are ready to go. This 3 Week Yoga Retreat makes the moves easy to understand and was designed so you can easily follow along.

Each day focuses on a different area of improvement. For example, Mondays focus on your core, Tuesdays are full of stretching, and Wednesdays are for balance. 

 

How to Sign Up

Signing up is as easy as clicking a button, which is provided below, but I highly recommend you watch the video!

I explain more about the workouts and how to sign up. So PLEASE PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO FIRST!!! Once you click on the button, you will scroll down to Free Trial. 😊

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to send me an email!

Love, Melissa

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Tricks Food Marketers Use to Deceive You

Deceptive nutrition labeling makes me so frustrated because food marketers can get away with it! They will put in excessively large print that children's cereals are a good source of protein, so you will look over the fact that they contain SO MUCH sugar.

Here are some misleading claims to look out for the next time you go to the grocery store:

 

Trans Fat = Hydrogenated Oil

Picture from  WellnessFX .

Picture from WellnessFX.

 “If a product has less than .5g of trans fat, the FDA allows the food label to read ‘0 grams trans fats per serving.” (WellnessFX)

Talk about misleading! It is proven that trans fats causes heart disease. Instead of removing them from their products, food companies make the serving sizes small enough that they can put a big whopping ZERO on the food label.

If you see the words ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ oil on the ingredient label, that means trans fats!

ALSO: “To be labeled free of calories, a food should have fewer than 5 calories per RACC (reference amounts customarily consumed per eating occasion); to qualify as fat- or sugar-free, less than 0.5 g per RACC; and to be labeled sodium-free, fewer than 5 mg per RACC.” (Reader’s Digest)

 

Should I Buy the 'Fat-Free' Version?

Just because a label says ‘fat-free’ doesn’t mean it is good for weight loss. Fat actually isn’t the culprit; sugar is the one to avoid. Instead of choosing those options, go for foods like avocados or fish, which contain good fats and WAY lower amounts of sugar.

 

The Meaning of 'Multigrain' and 'Natural'

Multigrain means jack squat. The FDA hasn’t given this claim an official definition, so food marketers can put ‘multigrain’ on the label when the food actually contains just 1 grain of wheat flour. Now, what is that 1 grain going to do for you? :)

This is the same case for ‘natural’ claims. So, if ‘100% natural’ is on the food label, there is no science to back that up. The FDA also has no definition for the word ‘natural,’ so food marketers have free reign to use it with no punishment if they are lying.

 

Exaggerated Advertising is Legal

In advertising, puffery is a widely-used strategy that is totally legal. Companies can exaggerate just about anything if it technically can’t be proven. For example, if a cereal says, ‘Healthiest Cereal in the WORLD,’ don’t believe it. That statement can’t be proven, so it falls under the category of puffery.

They could technically be telling the truth, but how can anyone prove if 5 grams of Vitamin A is better than 4 grams of fiber? It’s like comparing apples and oranges to prove that statement.

There are plenty of tricks out there you should be aware of, so I want to encourage you to do your research. Before you go to the grocery store, study up on the tricky words, so you won’t be deceived!

 

Love, Melissa 

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