November 25, 2014

Skinny Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

Are you worried about your waistline with the upcoming holiday season? I know I am! Sweets, pastries, and pies are my ultimate weakness. Throw in pumpkin and I'm in some serious trouble!

It's fine to indulge a little bit though. Honestly, who's going to eat salad and a protein shake on Thanksgiving day? Pfft. :-)

But sometimes it's good to substitute something unhealthy with some lightened up modifications so you don't feel like you're totally depriving yourself. You'll also be more likely to stay on track if you can feel like you're eating what you want. Continuous deprivation ultimately leads to bingeing. And that's never good.

So I have a solution for you! Try my skinny pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. No one will know they're healthy! They taste downright amazing. Pumpkin itself is 100% healthy. It's all the sugar, cream, flour, and butter that causes pumpkin desserts to be naughty.

Stay on Santa's nice list with this recipe... ;-)

Made with Truvia and coconut oil, these little dudes have all the flavor of a cupcake but the nutritional content of a decently healthy breakfast treat. Or treat at any time, really.

Bring them as a gift, make people feel less guilty at the office, or enjoy yourself. Poppable, delicious, and adorable, I know you'll enjoy these any time of the year.

Skinny Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
Adapted from Yummy, Healthy, Easy

Makes 36-48 mini muffins

1 c. canned pureed pumpkin
¾ c. Truvia Baking Blend (or 1½ c. sugar)
½ c. coconut oil
½ c. water
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1⅔ c. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. cinnamon
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ cup mini chocolate chips


1.Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a mini muffin tin (I used paper baking cups, but then realized it doesn't come off super easily so go with greasing the pan!). I also used two 12 cup muffins tins and had to bake two different sets of muffins.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, Truvia, coconut oil and water. Beat together until mixed. Add in one egg at a time and beat to incorporate. Then add vanilla and mix again.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice together.

4. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet and mix just until combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.

5. Pour into prepared muffin tins. I used a spoon because the batter was a little too thick to pour and the mini tins are really small. Fill 3/4 of the way. Bake for 16 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake. The pumpkin and oil cause them to look a little underbaked, but trust me, you want them to be very moist.

November 17, 2014

Baked Salmon with Herb Butter, Green Beans, and Tomatoes

So it's already snowing in the Midwest and northeast. My mom was just out here for a visit last week and she was so happy to be in the 70 degree sunny weather. But really, snow?! It's not even Thanksgiving. I'm worried about making it to Iowa for Christmas at this rate. If I get stranded on my way there or back, I might have to solicit you guys to tell me what can keep me entertained in Des Moines. But I degress...

On to this week's recipe.

This is a one dish meal which is always a plus. All you need is salmon, green beans (I used Trader Joe's frozen and let them thaw, but you can use fresh to skip the thawing step), cherry tomatoes, olive oil and herb butter. Maybe some salt and pepper.

I bought Kerrygold Garlic and Herb butter, but you can easily make your own herb butter by mixing whatever herbs you desire into softened butter.

Then line everything up neatly in a 9x13" baking dish. Top each filet with a pat of butter and drizzle olive oil over the veggies. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes and voila. Done.

The butter melts and drips down each filet, seasoning the fish and giving it a delectable buttery, herby flavor. I usually make salmon with a teriyaki type glaze, but I think I prefer this method.

Baked Salmon with Herb Butter, Green Beans, and Tomatoes

1 lb salmon filet
2-3 cups fresh or frozen green beans (not canned or French cut)
1 container cherry or grape tomatoes
4 Tbsp herb butter (I used Kerrygold Garlic and Herb)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a 9x13" baking dish with cooking spray. Place full or portioned salmon filets in the middle of the dish. Line one side with the green beans and the other with the tomatoes. Place about 1 Tbsp of herb butter on each filet. Drizzle veggies with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat all veggies.

Bake dish for 20-25 minutes until salmon is cooked through and flakes with a fork.



November 10, 2014

Savory Turkey Pumpkin Meatballs

Guess what?

I have a pumpkin recipe for you.

Hint: it's not a dessert.

Give up?

Savory turkey pumpkin meatballs. Mm mmm... Just a hint of pumpkin makes these meatballs fall apart moist. Don't be skeptical; you really can't taste the pumpkin and the oats in the mixture give the meatballs a nice texture. A fall twist on the typical Italian meatball. Serve it up with your favorite sauce and top spaghetti, pizza, or serve alongside some veggies. I bet these would be amazing with pumpkin spaghetti sauce. (Note to self.)

Pumpkin, oats, and sage create a pleasant seasonal flavor. Just a handful of ingredients and you'll have dinner ready in no time.

Turkey Pumpkin Meatballs
Adapted from Dishing Out Health

1 lb package of 94% lean ground turkey
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup old fashioned oats
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3-4 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for cooking
Salt and pepper
Optional sauce: spaghetti sauce or a pumpkin spaghetti sauce to really kick up the fall flavors a notch

Preheat oven to 350F.
Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté for 5-6 minutes until the onions become caramely and golden brown. Add garlic, reduce heat and simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine turkey, pumpkin puree, oats, egg, sage, shallot & garlic mixture, salt and pepper. Mix until combined. Avoid over mixing. Roll meat into 2" balls. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray. Line meatballs ~1 inch apart and bake for ~20 minutes.

While meatballs bake, heat sauce in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add baked meatballs and let simmer in sauce for an additional 20 minutes.

November 6, 2014

Two Fabulously Healthy Pancake Recipes: Cinnabun Pancakes and Carrot Cake Pancakes

Good morning!!

I have been a pancake nut recently. Protein pancakes, that is. I feel like I'm eating dessert for breakfast, yet it's healthy, filling, and full of protein.

Not to mention the options are endless!

I'm going to share two recent concoctions with you, both amazing. Cinnabun and Carrot Cake. (OMG).

Think you're too short on time to make them? If you can throw ingredients into a blender for a protein shake, this is just about as easy. A little more ingredients, and a few minutes on the griddle. 15 minutes tops.

I'll start with the Cinnabun pancakes.

I recently purchased Trutein protein in Cinnabun flavor which I highly recommend. Oh, the possibilities...

You just add oats, Greek yogurt, egg whites, Cinnabun protein powder, baking powder, and almond milk to your blender. Then pour out 1/4 cup at a time onto a hot griddle.

Cinnabun Protein Pancakes
1 serving


1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I used 0% plain)
2 egg whites
1/2 scoop Cinnabun protein powder (you can use vanilla or whatever flavor you want. The Trutein scoop is huge, so if you're using a standard scoop you might want to do 3/4-1 whole scoop)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1-3 Tbsp almond milk (add more or less to reach desired consistency)

Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Add more milk depending on the consistency you want. You don't want super watery or the pancakes will spread and be odd-shaped and thin in the pan. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto medium heat greased griddle and cook for about 2-3 minutes until edges start to brown. Flip and cook another minute until done. Mix 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt with 1 Tbsp of real maple syrup and use as topping. Or use regular maple syrup or other topping of choice. Sprinkle with cinnamon as a garnish.

Moving on...

These pancakes incorporate a veggie into the batter. How's that for healthy? Yet, they taste like heaven.

Classic spicy carrot cake topped with a decadent (yet low fat) cream cheese icing.

This recipe makes enough for two servings, so you can easily warm up the second half for breakfastlunch. ;-)

Check out those little carrots in there. And the dripping cream cheese icing... sigh.

Carrot Cake Protein Pancakes
2 servings

1/4 cup vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup Plain low fat Greek yogurt (or plain vanilla yogurt)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
Pinch Ground ginger and nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice
Pinch Salt
1/2 tsp Baking powder
2 Egg whites
1 cup Old fashioned oats (gluten free if sensitive)
1/2 cup Water
1/3 cup Carrots, chopped fine (these will be blended into the batter. I used pre-shredded carrots from Trader Joe's and just added them to the mix before blending.)
Optional: 2 tbs walnuts, chopped, 2 tbs golden raisins, carrot shreds for topping
4 oz cream cheese, low fat
1-2 Tbsp real maple syrup

Optional Cream Cheese Icing
Whip softened cream cheese and maple syrup together until combined. Add milk to thin out if desired.

Put all ingredients except optional into a blender and blend until smooth. Pulse in additional options if desired.

Heat a non-stick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup of batter per pancake onto the hot griddle and cook until edges start to brown and surface has bubbles. Flip and cook an additional 1-2 minutes until done.

Drizzle with additional cream cheese icing, nuts, cinnamon, and carrots.

Make these! You will not be disappointed.


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