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Friday, 31 October 2014

Wicked Healthy Halloween Party Snacks


I finally decided what to make for Asher's Kindergarden Halloween party Snacks!

🎃 Ghost and Cat whole wheat Tortilla chips
🎃 Pumpkin and Spider Orange Cheese
🎃 Ghost white cheese 
🎃 And Pumpkin meat slices 

Now this is still not 100% a perfectly real food snack in my opinion because I used orange cheese which I Never buy due to the food dye in it. And I rarely purchase processed meats. But this was an exception and in honesty it's pretty darn healthy compared to what it could have been!  I'm not perfect but I do my best! 


There were lots of scraps of cheese left over so I'm sure I'll figure out something to do with them! 


And the tortillas I just baked for 5 minutes at 350 to make them into tortilla chips after I cut them out with cookie cutters! 


I think it turned out pretty well!! 
Happy Halloween! 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Tips on how to make it through Halloween without going overboard!



We are 2 days away from the scariest holiday of the year!

HALLOWEEN causes many of us to go running in the opposite direction from the mirror when you pull up those skinny jeans after a week of potlucks in the office, candy treats, fun drinks and appetizers!

You might think that those mini candy bars are a good idea because they are portion sized but then you also think to yourself that you can have more than 1 because they are bite sized! Before you know it you are on the couch with the candy bowl and you just can’t stop. 

It’s hard to get out of that pattern once you start so I want you to also start to change your thinking right now!


Just because you think its going to be hard doesn't mean you just don't start at all or you take an entire week off of eating healthy and working out because of one day of trick or treating! It's all about changing your mindset. So here are some of my top tips:

1. Don't get your favorite candy to hand out on Halloween

I always used to get the box that had the Reece’s Pieces cups in it. Because I loved them. BUT then they tempted me all week before Halloween because of course I opened the box early.  AND they tempted me on Halloween night and again they tempted me after Halloween was over. 

So this year I let the Boys pick.  In prior years I have gone the no candy route, last year I got a healthy potato pop chip to hand out.  But this year I let the boys choose and they got a box of whatever mini chocolate bars they wanted.  I actually don’t even know what is in there.  AndI don’t want to know either!

This way I’m not tempted to get into them before Halloween, and because I know there are no reece cups I won’t have quite as much trouble staying away on Halloween night or after either!

2. Out of sight out of mind

Right now that nasty box of Chocolate bars is sitting on top of my China cabinet still in the bag it came in!  We have had it for about a week now but it remains unopened and will do so until Halloween night!

3. Keep a journal

It's really really important that as you move into the holidays that you have a great way of tracking your daily food intake. Honestly, its so easy to not realize what you are eating and how it all adds up. You take 1 little bite here and 1 little bite there and before you know it you have had way more than you ever expected.

This is called the compound effect.  Little things done daily lead to big things.  Whether that be good changes or Bad. For example: working out for 20 minutes each day although a little change can lead to big changes in your health and fitness over a year.  But a little seemingly inconsequential change over time like an extra not so healthy snack each day over a few months could lead to a few extra pounds to carry around by Christmas time.

But when you have to write it down and be accountable to that it makes you second guess that decision! You might be sabotaging yourself without even knowing it!

4. Exercise

It’s so important to stick to your exercise routine or even start a new one.  On Friday morning I plan to workout at lunch with my co-workers (P90 with Tony), eat a healthy lunch, drink my water and then have a good healthy dinner (Portobello Mushroom Pizzas - Recipe found on my Dinner Inspiration board).

I’ll probably go trick or treating with my boys and have a treat or two. 

BUT

I'm not throwing all caution to the wind for the entire day. I'm not starving myself to have extra calories for the evening! I will stick to the plan. It's one treat not an entire day or week! This is the key to success. Everything in moderation and don't skip a workout EVER on a cheat day! DEAL!!!

5. Find healthy alternatives

Feel the need to have a sweet treat on Friday night after the kids are in bed and the candy is available? Make up a batch of something healthy but sweet to enjoy instead. 

Maybe these Coconut Bars

Or


No one will even know there are chick peas in them!




And if you are really up to the challenge join my Halloween Candy Detox Challenge Group to help you get focused after halloween and make it to Christmas with a whole new set of tools to use!
5 Days of Shakeology
5 Days of Healthy Recipes
5 Days of Exercise
** Holiday Survival Tips
*** Plus our Make it to Christmas Motivation and group support
Click here to join the Facebook Group and contact me to get your Shakeology!

Healthy Halloween Party Snacks for School

On Friday Asher will have his Kindergarten Halloween Party! 

There all kinds of great Halloween themed food ideas floating around on pinterest but lets be realistic here... These items will have to be sent with my Kindergartener to Before school care and then to school from there, meaning they have to TRAVEL.  AND they have to travel in hands other than my own.  So sending a big watermelon head Monster with Lime Googly eyes and fruit spewing from his mouth, although awesome and very cute, is just not doable unless I'm delivering!



So since I wont be delivering my snack to the classroom myself I do have to keep in mind that my item can't be something that wont be recognizable if it slides around in a container.  Whatever it is must stay intact and look how it's supposed to after 5 year old travel!  


I loved this idea... but it just wont hold up
to 5 Year old Travel :(

I also note all the cute Banana ghosts or oranges peal and turned into pumpkins and I think those Bananas will go brown all pealed like that... So I'd have to be there to make them. Or those Pumpkin oranges will dry out before the kids eat them.... 
 

So cute but I think we have all seen what happens
When these oranges have been peeled and left out. 
Yuck
So what to make?

Here are my requirements:
  1. It must be Healthy
  2. Travel well
  3. Halloween themed

Options:

1. Popcorn Mix

2. Jack-O-Lantern Oranges or Orange fruit cups


3. Cheese Ghosts, Meat Spiders cut out with cookie cutters


4. Spider Crackers and Peanut Butter with Pretzel legs


 
5. Apple Mouths/monsters

6. Veggie and Dip or Apple and Caramel Dip cups


 
I experimented last night making a small batch of dark chocolate and dried apricot  popcorn mix! It worked out well. So I've decided that I'll either do my own healthy popcorn mix or the Halloween cut out meat and cheese with crackers for the snack. 


I'm happy with this Healthy popcorn mix because it's Orange and black but doesn't have ANY candy corn or sugary pumpkins in it! Nor does it have any food colouring in the chocolate and I used Dairy free chocolate too!! Plus it's tasty!

Healthy Halloween Popcorn Mix


So if you read my blog post about needing to find a truly healthy snack to send for Asher's Kindergarten Halloween party on Friday, you will know that I was on the hunt for something I could send.  I went through all the Pinterest ideas and came up with only a handful of really doable recipes that I could actually make ahead and send with my kindergartner as I would be working and not able to deliver! 

So on my drive home from work yesterday I started brainstorming and came up with this Healthy Dark Chocolate and Dried a Apricot Popcorn mix. 

It sticks with the black and orange theme of Halloween without including candy corn or coloured chocolate and is truly a healthy snack! 

I just made a small batch to test it out last night but I'll be making a big batch to send to school with him on Thursday night. 

First I popped my popcorn in a brown paper bag in the microwave. 3 minutes for about 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels. 



Next you will want to remove all the up popped seeds. 



Chop up some dried apricots. 



I used the Enjoy life dark chocolate chunks to make it dairy free and melted them in the microwave. 



Then drizzle chocolate into your popcorn and stir in the apricots! 



Spread onto a baking sheet and leave it overnight to let the chocolate harden onto the popcorn. Scoop it into a large container or baggies to send to school in the morning. 

I'm going to get some paper ice cream cups to serve it in for the kids! 

Not only is this a good healthy snack for the kids, it's also great for adults too! 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Chicken Stirfry with Rice Noodles

We made this healthy chicken stirfry tonight with rice noodles. I'll admit, my boys love stirfry but unfortunately I'm the only one who likes it with brown rice. Gord and Asher both like those yellow (horribly bad for you) Chinese noodles. I cave in and serve them every now and again but lately I've been using rice noodles more and more often. 

I used to only use rice noodles for pad Thai but I really like using it for stir fry now too! In fact I have found some thinner rice noodles that work perfectly for stirfry. 

So when they asked for stirfry on the menu this week during my meal planning on Sunday I picked up some rice noodles instead of those yellow ones! 



Happy to say this stirfry pleased everyone and I was so glad that no yellow noodles were used in the making of this dinner! 

Here is the recipe for you...

Ingredients: 

  • 2 7 ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into skinny strips
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 ounces of broccoli slaw
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 4 ounces rice noodles
  • 2 tablespoons reduce sodium soy sauce

Directions: 

  • Remove rice noodles from package and place in hot water. This will loosen them up. Set aside.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick wok on medium high heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add chicken and bell pepper and cook until chicken is fully done, about 7 minutes. Remove from pot.
  • Heat second tablespoon of oil in the same wok. Add broccoli slaw and cook until tender and a bit crispy, about 5 minutes. 
  • Add in zucchini and grated ginger and cook another 2 minutes.
  • Add chicken and peppers back to pan, along with the cooked rice noodles and soy  sauce, and heat for another 2 minutes, or until mixture is fully combined.
  • Serve and enjoy!



I hope you try and like this recipe as much as we did! 
 
Leftovers: 
 
Take in a glass container and throw in a little extra soy sauce to moisten during reheating.  microwave for 2 minutes or until heated through.  
OR
You can always reheat for dinner the next night in a frying pan.  Again add a little soy sauce to moisten or a touch of water and heat over the element until hot. 
 
I mean who doesnt' need a quick and healthy week night dinner plus left overs for lunch or dinner the next day! 


Monday, 27 October 2014

Apple Cranberry whole wheat Granola Waffles

Healthy, tasty and filling on a cold and rainy fall morning.  


These fruit filled waffles were so tasty and soft.  I added a dollop of Greek yogurt mixed with Maple Syrup onto the top and sprinkled some of my homemade granola on top of that so good!

I actually put the dry mixture for these together the night before so that I was able to make these fairly quickly the next morning before school! Everyone really enjoyed them, especially Fraser who gobbled them right up!  The batch also made quite a few waffles so I was able to put some aside for the next day too!  I also chopped up one square and put it in the fridge for a quick breakfast for Fraser tomorrow morning too!  Perfect toddler food!  

Ingredients: 

  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed meal
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 2/3 cup chopped apple
  • 6 tablespoons dried cranberries
Topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat your waffle maker to medium and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, almond milk, apple butter, applesauce, vanilla extract and honey until fully mixed. In another bowl, whisk the flour, ground flax seed meal, almond meal, baking powder and apple pie spice together.  Mix in the apple and cranberries.
  3. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, stirring until fully combined.
  4. Pour batter (about 1/2 cup at a time) into the waffle maker and cook until golden brown (about 3 minutes). 
  5. While batter is cooking mix greek yogurt with maple syrup in a small bowl of mixing cup. 
  6. Serve each waffle with Greek yogurt mixed with maple syrup and granola! 
I made the dry mixture the night before and just made up the wet mixture in the morning so about half the work was done and ready to go for breakfast in the morning!



Dry Mixture made the night before and apples were cut up the morning of. 



The batter puffed up quite a bit and made a nice sized batch. 

Greek Yogurt and Maple syrup mixed for the topping with a little granola sprinkled on top!  

This recipe was inspired by the Realistic Nurtitionist blog

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!  Such a great kid friendly and healthy recipe. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Make your own Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie Spices



These two Spices mixes are fairly popular especially at this time of year.  When I started making my own pumpkin scones a few years ago I learned what goes into "pumpkin pie spice" and since then I have always just made my own when needed.  But recently I wanted to make a recipe and the original called for Apple pie spice.  Because I don't have that one in my cupboard I quickly looked up which spices went into it so I could make my own and I thought I would share with you what the recipes for both actually are!
The great thing is that you can purchase your spices in bulk from the health food store and get organic spices so much cheaper this way!  
Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
2 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg*
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
Apple Pie Spice
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground nutmeg*
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
Combine all ingredients for desired mix and blend well. Store in a small, airtight container or make ad hoc. Feel free to experiment with amounts to get a blend that works for you. I personally like lots of ginger and cloves in my pumpkin spice but some people don't like those spices as much.  

Enjoy your fall baking!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Pumpkin Cake Cheesecake




Birthday Time for my Mom and I wanted to try out a new recipe that  I found on Pinterest!  I adapted this lovely recipe from the Sally's Baking Addiction blog found here. I made a few modifications to the recipe like swapping out vegetable oil for coconut oil, and using coconut palm sugar rather than brown sugar but I mostly just kept it the same and it turned out great!  I really enjoyed it and so did my hubby and my mom!

I made this cake for my mom's birthday picnic dinner so I actually decided to cut out little round pieces and place them into jars so that it would travel better.  



I could have easily just made the mini cheese cakes in the jars and baked them that way but I wasn't 100% sure on our plan for the night so when I made the cake in the morning I just made the big one!  None the less it workout out great!

The little Jars filled with cake were so cute!

So lets get to the recipe shall we!  Here it is....


Ingredients:

CHEESECAKE

  • 16 ounces (448g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) Organic Cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60g) plain greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon (8g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs

PUMPKIN CAKE

  • 3/4 cup (180ml) coconut oil
  • 1 cup (200g) coconut palm sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/3 cups (318g) pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)*
  • 1 cup (125g) whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Directions:
Adjust oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Wrap aluminum foil on the bottom and tightly around the outside walls of the springform pan, as shown in photos on the How to Prevent Cheesecake Cracks page of Sally's Blog.  Set aside.
Make the cheesecake first. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar together on medium speed in a large bowl - about 3 full minutes until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add the greek yogurt, vanilla, and flour and beat until combined. On low speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. Do not overmix the filling after you have added the eggs. Set aside.
Make the pumpkin cake. In a medium bowl, whisk the coconut oil, coconut palm sugar, eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin together until combined and uniform in texture. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, other spices, and salt together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until no large lumps remain. Avoid overmixing the pumpkin cake batter.
Spread 1 and 1/2 cups of the pumpkin cake batter over bottom of prepared pan. On top of the pumpkin batter, drop large spoonfuls of the cheesecake batter. Top with large spoonfuls of remaining pumpkin cake batter. Repeat with remaining cream cheese batter. It does not have to be neat and perfect. Do not swirl with a knife. Just plop it all down and pour the cheese cake batter into the pan!  Trust me. 

Place the springform pan into a large roasting pan and place into the oven. Fill with about 1 inch of hot water. The foil wrapped around the pan will prevent water from leaking inside. 
Bake for 65-75 minutes or until the center is almost set. If you find the edges are browning, loosely place aluminum foil on top of the cake as it bakes. Once done, turn the oven off and open the door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight (preferred). Loosen the cheesecake from the rim of the pan and remove the rim.
On the Original recipe she also included a cream cheese icing but I felt that it wasn't likely necessary and because my mom and I both don't like super sweat desserts I figured we didn't need it and we didn't!  
MAKE AHEAD/FREEZE: This pumpkin cake cheesecake freezes well up to 2 months, covered tightly. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

My Mom and Asher blowing out the Candle in her Mini Cake in a Jar. 




Shredded Chicken Pesto Sandwich

















My Mom's Birthday is today and she decided that she wanted to go to an outdoor Halloween Event here called Enchanted Halloween.  Last year we did the same and ended up having hot dogs and hamburgers as well as cupcakes that I brought to celebrate her Birthday (it was a little more last minute).  But this year I wanted the dinner to be a bit more special and I wanted to try to avoid the burgers and hot dogs this time around so I decided we would have a nice Picnic dinner.  

On the meal plan was Pesto Chicken Croissant-wiches and Pumpkin Cake Cheesecake.  

Here is the recipe for the Pesto Chicken Croissant-wiches I made this afternoon for the picnic. 

  • INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 chicken Breasts, one roasted chicken or 2 cups shredded chicken
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons Pesto (about half a small jar)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Croissants or baguette bread

  • Optional toppings:
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach or mixed greens
  • Sliced cheese (I used aged applewood smoked cheddar)

DIRECTIONS:

In a mixer tear off chunks of cooked chicken breast and place into mixing bowl.  Then turn on medium-high until the chicken breast looks like shredded chicken (pictured below).  Alternatively you can do this by hand but this is by far the best way to get your chicken shredded nicely and have a good consistency.  



The Pesto you use is up to you.  You can make your own which I have done in the past or you can purchase a jar of it from the local grocer.  This particular brand I really like.  In fact we tried the Mezzetta Tomato sauce for Spaghetti just the other night and it passed the test!  Typically Spaghetti sauce and as with many processed items have loads of sugar, salt and other unnecessary ingredients listed on the label.  And I have tried dozens of organic and/or ingredient approved sauces over the last few years and most just don't pass the kid/hubby test.  So I move on and try another or stick to my own homemade.  But I picked the Mezzetta one up a few weeks ago and finally got a chance to try it out this week!  

We ALL loved it!  

Shocking really because we all like very different styles of pasta sauce around here!  So I'll for sure be getting that one again!

As for the Pesto, I've actually had it in the fridge for a few weeks and when I pulled it out to use it this afternoon to make these Sandwiches I was happy to see that it was the same brand!  Very cool!


I was simply going to just put pesto in with the shredded chicken BUT after a taste test I felt that it needed a bit more creaminess to it so I added a scoop of mayonnaise to the mixture and gave it another whirl to stir it in. 


Then I packed all the Croissant-wiches up and tucked them into our Picnic bag for our night out!


The Pumpkin Cake Cheese Cake recipe can be found here!

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