Tomato & Feta Cracker

IMG_8254Looking for a quick, healthy snack? Adding vegetables to your snacks does not have to be hard. Here is a simple idea… tomato and feta cheese on a cracker! Take your crackers to work, school, or when you’re on the go!

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 Multigrain crackers (I used Triscuits)
  • 1 tomato sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp. Low-fat feta cheese
  • Italian herbs or oregano
  • Olive oil or pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Slice some tomatoes and place them in your container, then cover with plastic wrap. Crumble some feta into a pile in your container and sprinkle with dried oregano or Italian herbs. Pack your crispbread separately. When you get hungry, top your crispbread with tomato, feta and herbs, and drizzle with your stashed olive oil and freshly ground pepper.

 

 

Cucumber Pomegranate Bites

These delicious cucumber bites are packed with vitamins and nutrients. They make a perfect snack or appetizer! Not only are they simple to make, but they are colorful and something that everyone can enjoy!

cucumber bites

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 6 (1/4-inch) cucumber slices
  • 1 TBSP whipped low fat cream cheese (or any type of spreadable cheese)
  • 2 TBSP pomegranate seeds

Directions:

  • Slice the cucumber into 6 slices
  • Add 1 tbsp. cheese (ex: cream cheese, feta cheese, goat cheese)
  • Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds
  • Keep chilled until ready to serve

 

Homemade Super-Seedy Granola Bars

Looking for a high fiber, protein filled snack? These homemade super-seedy granola bars are the perfect fit! These bars are filled with delicious peanut butter and super seeds! Make extra bars, freeze or refrigerate the rest for later! A fantastic grab and go snack.

granola bars

Makes 16 bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats               1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds                             3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds                               1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt                                   1 cup unsalted peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey                                         1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Line a 9 by 9 inch square pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap with enough overhang for easy removal
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, almonds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, cinnamon and salt
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together peanut butter, honey, and vanilla extract until very smooth.
  4. Pour liquid mixture over dry ingredients and using a wooden spoon, stir until evenly  combined.
  5. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan and firmly press the mixture evenly into the pan.
  6. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight. Gently lift the parchment paper to remove from pan and slice into 16 bars. Place in a freezer-safe bag to store in the fridge or freezer. Serves 16.

Nutrition Info: Serving 1 bar (45 grams) Calories: 209; Total fat: 13g; Sat fat: 2g; Sodium 77mg; Carbohydrate: 20g; Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 11g; Protein: 7g

Adapted from: Alexandra Caspero January/February 2016 Food and Nutrition Magazine

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark

dark chocolatePerfect for the holiday season: This delicious recipe is not only simple, but delicious and filled with antioxidants! If you are a chocolate and mint lover, this combination is fantastic.

Makes 16 servings

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz. dark chocolate chopped or 1 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 4 candy canes, crushed

Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate in the microwave or over a double broiler
  2. Once the chocolate is melted, mix until the chocolate is smooth
  3. Pour the chocolate onto a sheet of wax or parchment paper. Spread into a thin layer
  4. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top of the chocolate and press in lightly
  5. Refrigerate the bark for 20-30 minutes to let harden
  6. Break the bark into 15-20 uneven pieces. Keep refrigerated before ready to serve

 

Celery with Pumpkin Goat Cheese

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This is my alternate version of ants on a log! My little creation of celery, pumpkin goat cheese, raisins, and pumpkin pie spice! Makes a perfect snack or appetizer… and it’s delicious!

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

4 oz. Pumpkin Snap Chevre Goat Cheese

1 tsp. Pumpkin pie spice

4 celery stalks

1/4 cup raisins

Directions:

1. Wash celery and cut stalks in 4 pieces

2. Spread the pumpkin goat cheese on the celery stalks

3. Sprinkle raisins and pumpkin pie spice on top for extra flavor

Nutrition Information:

1 stuffed celery stalk:

110 calories, 5g fat, 110mg sodium, 11g carbohydrates, 10g sugar, 4g protein

 

 

Clementine Pumpkins

Although Halloween is over, I had to share this fun and easy snack I have made twice already this season! This is a perfect idea for a dessert at a party you might be hosting in the Fall, or to give your children to bring with them as a snack for school!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 bag or box clementines (Naval oranges or tangerines may be substituted)
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, cut crosswise into 3 or 4 segments, each about 1-2 inches long, and then sliced in lengthwise in half

Directions:

1. Peel each clementine by hand carefully, so it does not come apart. Remove the middle pith, if possible.

2. Cut each celery stalk into pieces 1-inch or longer, to make pumpkin stems and insert it into the top of the fruit, so that it resembles a pumpkin stalk.

3. Adjust the width and length of the celery stems according to the size of your “pumpkins.”

 

Black Bean Brownies

Looking for a delicious new dessert with added protein? This is a FANTASTIC dessert to sneak those beans in for kids and picky eaters! I have made these plenty of times and I have had such great feedback on how people don’t even taste or realize that the beans are in them! This is a gluten free recipe… and they’re definitely worth trying!

Makes 16 servings

  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×8 pan. Place beans in food processor and process until mashed. Add eggs, vanilla, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, sugar and oil. Process until smooth. Pour into pan and sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Nutrition Info: Serving 1 brownie = 144 calories, 5g fat, 26g carbs, 3g fiber, 4g protein, 17g sugar, 150mg sodium

 

 

Baked Pears with Cranberries and Pecans

pearsLooking for a nice holiday dessert or appetizer? This combination is delicious and full of great vitamins and nutrients!

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 pears
  • 24 fresh cranberries (or dried)
  • 4 tbsp. chopped pecans
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 4 tsp. honey
  • Greek yogurt for pairing, if desired

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Halve the pears and then core. Slice a small part off the backside of each pear half to create a flat surface so it sits flat when on the pan.
  • Place the pear halves on a large baking sheet or pan, cored side up. Place 3 cranberries into the cored part of each half. Sprinkle each half with 1/2 tbsp. pecans, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Drizzle with 1/2 tsp. honey.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pears are tender. Serve with Greek yogurt if desired.

Nutrition Information:

1 pear half

Calories: 90

Fat: 3g

Carbs: 16g

Sugar: 11g

Protein: 1g

 

Adding Flavor With Herbs

Herbs do not only contain vitamins and minerals, the oils in most herbs have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties that can deliver disease-fighting health benefits as well. Growing an herb garden is an easy way to access fresh herbs all year-round.

Thyme: Contains generous amounts of Vitamin C, can be used in soups and stews, and can add flavor to foods including meats, roasted chicken, fish, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and winter vegetables.

Basil: Offers a range of flavors and aromas from lemon and mint to licorice. Sweet basil pairs well with Parmesan, ricotta, and mozzarella cheeses, tomatoes, pasta, eggs, garlic, and poached fish.

Tarragon: Delivers a sweet licorice-like flavor. Tarragon can be used in green salads and goes well with eggs, chicken, fish, goat, and ricotta cheeses as well as citrus, tomatoes, parsley and vinegar.

Rosemary: Pairs well with fava and white beans, roasted meats and potatoes. This herb should be added early in the cooking process.

Mint: Pairs well with dark chocolate, cream-based dessert, lamb, cucumbers, young potatoes, carrots or peas, fruits and teas.

Chives: Pair well with eggs, cheddar and ricotta cheeses, and root vegetables (especially potatoes). Use them fresh, not cooked to maintain color and flavor.

Cilantro: Pairs well with chili peppers in salsas and curries. Commonly used in Thai, Indian, and Mexican cuisine.

Sage: Pairs well with rich and roasted poultry and meat dishes, onions, pasta and beans.

Parsley: 1 tbsp. of parsley delivers more than 50% of recommended vitamin K for adults. Pairs well with lemon and garlic, fish and soups.

Dill: Delivers a good amount of beta-carotene. Dill is a main ingredient in pickles and pairs well with cucumbers, eggs, potatoes and fish.

Food & Nutrition Magazine. July/August 2015

Popcorn — A Popular Whole Grain Snack

Many people don’t realize that popcorn is 100% whole grain, low in calories, and a source of dietary fiber. A 3 cup serving of air-popped popcorn has fewer than 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, 3.5 grams of dietary fiber and 2mg of sodium. However, popcorn can become unhealthy and an addictive treat if it is not eaten in correct portion sizes and/or if it is eaten out of a tub in a movie theater. A large bucket of popcorn found in your movie theater can contain more than 1,000 calories and several day’s worth of saturated fat (the bad fat!). So remember to keep it simple and stick to the correct portion size!

Try these simple ideas on your popcorn to add flavor (skip the butter!)

  • Sprinkle with chili powder and a little bit of lime juice
  • Mix it with roasted chickpeas or nuts
  • Toss it with Parmesan cheese and fresh rosemary
  • Add some heat with cayenne pepper or Cajun seasoning mix
  • Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic and black pepper
  • Dust with cinnamon and a little brown sugar

For more information: Food & Nutrition Magazine, July/August 2015