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Addicting Chocolate chip Cookie Protein Bars

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Maybe I’m being overly liberal with the term “protein bar,” but these do have a good amount of protein in them (lots of nuts!). They’re really just a very delicious almost-clean-eating-friendly treat that I just can’t stop stuffing into my mouth. Seriously.. I’ve frozen the entire batch, but that hasn’t stopped me!

They’re sweet, salty, crunchy, and taste like cookies without added refined sugar or processed flours.  You could even use gluten-free oats, or omit the oats all together.   But you’ve been warned: I bet you can’t stop at just one!

Addicting Chocolate chip Cookie Protein Bars
from Shutterbean.com

1 1/2 cups toasted cashews
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted and chopped up
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1.75oz weight chopped dark chocolate (I used Lindt’s with sea salt)
1/8 tsp sea salt

Blend cashews and oats in food processor for about 30 seconds until coarsely chopped.  Add in the dates, maple syrup, cinnamon, and sea salt. Blend for another 30 seconds until the dough is sticky but still a bit crumbly.  Add in the walnuts and chocolate, and blend for a final 30 seconds, until it’s well combined.

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Dump in the mixture, cover with another piece of parchment paper, and push it down until it’s nice and even across the bottom of the pan.  Place in freezer for 4 or more hours, then cut into 2-inch squares with a sharp knife.

I like to store the squares in a container in the freezer. They’ll keep for about 2 months, but there’s no way they’re lasting that long in this house!

Guilt-free Gingerbread Latte

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With a Tall Starbucks Gingerbread Latte coming in at 260 calories (and you’re not just having a Tall, right?), these festive Feels-Like-Christmas drinks help us pack on the pounds. It’s no wonder, considering what’s in all that flavour syrup.

I’ve experimented and found a lightened up version with no artificial-anything in it. YUM!  At only 75 calories, you can definitely fit this one in.

Guilt-free Gingerbread Latte

1-2 shots espresso (to taste) or strong coffee
2 teaspoons maple syrup (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Stir together espresso, maple syrup, and spices in a mug
Heat and froth the almond milk until hot and pour over spicy espresso mixture. Enjoy!

calorie-free additions to make your food taste great

herbs and spices

Are you getting bored with the same old same old thing to eat?
Here are some ideas to add lots of flavour without adding any significant calories.  I like to call these my FREE foods. Big flavour, no guilt!

Herbs and spices – I love love love cinnamon. I’ll sprinkle it on sliced apples, in my yogurt, and in my oatmeal. Toss herbs and spices them into and on everything! Chicken with rosemary is great.  I use this Southwest mix on my roast veggies as well as grilled meats, instead of using a commercial (high-sugar!) BBQ sauce: 
Smoky Southwest Seasoning (add to meats and veggies before roasting or grilling)
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp coriander
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sea salt

Red pepper flakes (ok, this falls into the herbs and spices category, but I loooove them.  Red pepper flakes are fabulous in scrambled eggs, and on top of mashed avocado on toast.

Lemon or lime juice – add a squeeze to fish or on top of any food that you want to add a little pick-me-up, or drop a wedge into your water.

Mustard – add to sandwiches or dressings for a big punch of flavour

Tabasco or Sriracha hot sauce – so good in eggs or with a bit of Braggs liquid aminos (a gluten free alternative to soy sauce) in a stir fry.

Garlic and ginger – add one or both to roast or pan-fried veggies

Salsa – while this isn’t calorie-free, it’s very low in calories, and you’ll only be using a little bit.  Add a spoonful to scrambled eggs, use as a sandwich spread, or as an alternative to salad dressing.

Grilled Fish Tacos with Cabbage Citrus Slaw

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This is one of my favourites for dinner. My daughter will eat parts (hold the spice). I give her yogurt “dip,” fish, pieces of tortilla, and avocado.

You can get fresh fish if you’ll be making this within a day or so, otherwise I like keeping a bag of cod fillets in the freezer. Pull one out to defrost in the fridge the night before.  The best part is that this recipe only takes about 20 minutes to make, start to finish, including prep! That’s a win for this mama!  When I have it, I LOVE using mango salsa.

Calories will vary depending on the tortillas you use. Mine are 100 calories each. Meal is 425 calories (makes one serving)

6 oz raw cod or other white fish, washed and patted dry
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 6-inch whole wheat tortillas
1 Tablespoon salsa
1 Tablespoon plain non-fat Greek yogurt
¾ cup shredded raw cabbage (I prefer red). Add kale if you like.
1 small handful of fresh cilantro sprigs
¼ of a lime (you’ll use the juice)
cayenne pepper (to taste)
¼ medium avocado, sliced

Preheat broiler to high

Season fish with salt and broil for 3-5 minutes per side, or until it flakes easily with a fork.

Wrap tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds. Place on a plate and top with yogurt, salsa, fish, cabbage, cilantro, avocado and a squeeze of lime juice.  Sprinkle on cayenne pepper to taste.

Fold and serve.

PS: This one can be messy!

Roast Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Pecans

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Not a Brussels sprouts fan?  Let me tell you, I’d only ever taken the required single bite at special holidays these last 30-odd years of my life, until I saw this recipe and just KNEW that it was my ticket to Brussels sprouts enjoyment.. and hey, I was actually right!  I’ll eat a plate full of these now! I’m not even exaggerating!  Tonight when I made them, they were sitting out still, and I kept going back for more to snack on.  They’re like the gateway to any other Brussels Sprouts that might get thrown in your path.

With Thanksgiving coming up, these are a perfect clean option. The maple syrup and balsamic vinegar add some tangy sweetness, and the pecans add some crunch.  I’ve also been known to toss in some dried cranberries.

Here’s what I did:

I washed up the lovely little Brussels Sprouts – I had just under 2 pounds.

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I trimmed off the ends, and cut the bigger ones in half.

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I tossed them along with 1/4 cup chopped pecans and 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt, and freshly ground pepper.

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I popped them into a preheated 450F oven, and baked for about 20 minutes, until I saw some nicely charred bits.

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I stirred up my 2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and 3 Tablespoons of maple syrup, then tossed the lot together.  I served them immediately. YUM!

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Roast Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Pecans
1 1/2 – 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, washed, stems trimmed, and large ones cut in half
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Himalayan Salt, and Freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

I preheated the oven to 450F.
On a parchment lined baking sheet, I tossed together the Brussels sprouts, pecans, oil, and salt and pepper.
I roasted them for about 20 minutes, or until I saw some nice charred bits.
I whisked together the vinegar and maple syrup
I pulled the sprouts pan out of the oven and tossed them with the vinegar/syrup mixture, and served right away.

pumpkin-less healthy pumpkin spice latte

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Am I crazy? maybe maybe.  Today was one of those days where I just wanted to cozy up on the couch with a warm mug of pumpkin spice latte and not move a bit.  Tragedy – no pumpkin puree in the house!  Not a problem though, because this recipe is pretty dang good, and I don’t even miss the pumpkin.  Bonus: no having to open a full can or make your own when you’re just going to use a tiny bit anyhow.

pumpkin-less pumpkin spice latte

A cake and greens original
Makes about 12oz

1-2 shots of espresso, or 1/3 cup very strong coffee
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1-2 teaspoons maple syrup or a few drops stevia, to taste (I use maple syrup)
3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
a dash of cinnamon

Pour your espresso or coffee into your mug and stir in spice and sweetener.  Steam or heat and froth your almond milk, and pour into your mug.  Top with a dash of cinnamon.

Enjoy!

pumpkin scones

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I’m a really strong believer in moderation, and in not just saying that half the foods I love are completely off-limits.  This gets pretty tough when I crave all the sugary baked goods that I can think of.  Today I finally decided to bake up a batch of the famed Starbucks Pumpkin Scones.  They’re amazing, and I’m hoping I can limit myself a bit.  It wouldn’t be a good idea to eat the whole batch, yahknow?

These are crazy delicious, like my favourite thing ever.. must not eat all.. Strategy? Give them to friends, freeze most for later.. I like to freeze them on a cookie sheet, then either pop them straight into a bag in the freezer, or individually wrap them.  That makes for lots of future pumpkiny deliciousness.

pumkin scones

This recipe is everywhere, but I slightly modified it from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen.
Makes 12 servings

For the Scones:
2 cups flour
1/4 cup and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (just under 1/2 cup)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into little cubes
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons cold milk
1 large egg

For the Powdered Sugar Glaze:
3/4 cup icing sugar
2 Tablespoons milk, or to desired consistency

For the Spiced Glaze:
3/4 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Add the butter and toss with a fork to coat. Cut butter in with a fork, knives, a pastry blender, or whiz in your food processor for a few seconds, until it’s no bigger than small peas.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, milk, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and form the dough into a ball. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a 1-inch thick rectangle about 4 inches by 12 inches. cut into 3 equal squares, then cut each square in an X pattern (four pieces) so you end up with 12 triangular slices of dough. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until light brown. Place on wire rack to cool.

While the scones are cooling, make the powdered sugar glaze by mixing the powdered sugar and milk together until smooth. When scones are cool, use a pastry brush  or a spoon to spread plain glaze over the top of each scone.
While the powdered sugar glaze is firming, combine all of the ingredients for the spiced glaze. Drizzle over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (about an hour).

Try to eat just one and freeze the rest!

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healthy baked falafels

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Baking falafels.. I know, genius!  I didn’t come up with this myself, even though I should have.  I remember several falafel-making failures, where things were too mushy, my oil was too hot, and well.. too oily!  Black burnt falafels aren’t so great.  Solution? Bake them up until they’re perfectly cooked.

I love that falafels are full of so much flavour, and pack a lot of nutritional value from the chickpeas, garlic, and healthy oil.  These are great inside a pita, on a salad, or even by themselves as a snack!

You can use your favourite falafel recipe, or follow this one below, and bake em up.

Healthy Baked Falafels
Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is

2 cans Chick Peas (540mL each – low sodium), rinsed and drained
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1 egg
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tablespoon melted extra virgin coconut oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup whole wheat flour or spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

I preheated my oven to 400F.

I dumped everything except the flour and baking powder into the food processor, and pulsed until crumbly.  Then I added half the flour and baking powder, and pulsed a bit more to mix. I added the rest of the flour and baking powder, and pulsed a few more times.

I scooped balls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and flattened them slightly into patties.

I baked them for about 25 minutes – until slightly crispy and cooked through, but still soft in the middle.

healthy pumpkin spice latte

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The leaves are changing and it’s getting to be fall. OK, so maybe the leaves here are just falling off because we had such a hot dry summer.. but still, I’ve been itching to wear boots, jeans, and scarves, and sipping on a yummy pumpkin spice latte, and I know they’re at Starbucks now.. but I really don’t want whatever yuckiness they put in theirs, especially not when it’s super easy to whip up at home. You can even skip the pumpkin puree in my recipe and it’ll still taste great. All unprocessed, all-natural ingredients, if you’re fine with coffee.

It’s sweet, decadent, and tastes like fall in a warm mug.

healthy pumpkin spice latte

Recipe adapted from beachbody
serves 1, easily doubled or more

3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons maple syrup, or 2 –3 drops liquid stevia (I used syrup)
1 – 2 shots espresso or 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
dash of nutmeg or cinnamon to taste (optional)

In a mug or saucepan, stir together the almond milk, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and maple syrup, then heat in the microwave or on the stove until quite hot but not boiling.

Remove from heat and froth or whisk well.

Pour espresso or coffee into a mug, then pour milk mixture on top.

Sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon.

Enjoy!

Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

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I find it oh-so satisfying making my own vinaigrettes from scratch. It’s one of those ways in which I feel like I’m taking an extra little step in nourishing my family, and it’s super easy! Often all you need is a jam jar to shake shake shake.

This recipe requires a blender or food processor, and the result is a tangy-sweet strawberry delight that livens up any salad. I love making it with blueberries (frozen even, if that’s what you have!) too. I had it the other night on a yummy kale salad mix. I’ve been making batch after batch of this with fresh local berries, while I can still get them!

Fresh Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries (or blueberries)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
3 Tbsp Olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt

Blend everything together in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy.

Source: slightly adapted from Karma Chow

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