Recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Recipe adapted from Alton Brown’s “The Chewy” Cookie Recipe)

makes approximately 2 dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup salted sweet cream butter (I use Millerville Butter, but a close substitute is Crystal Farms Salted Sweet Cream Butter)
  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1¼ cup brown sugar (I use light brown sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons 2% milk (you can use whole milk if you have it in the house)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, blend together the melted butter and the white and brown sugar until combined. (This is where I can’t stop myself from sneaking a spoonful. Yes, it’s just butter and sugar. But it’s SO GOOD!)
  3. Next, add the whole egg, the egg yolk, milk and vanilla extract. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add the flour, salt, and baking soda into the mixture and stir until combined. (I know this is where lots of cooks will tell you to sift the dry ingredients together first and then add the sifted mixture in. I say boo to that! I’ve never done that in my life, and my cookies have always been amazing. I’m all about reducing steps and reducing extra dishes!!)
  5. Once the flour mixture is incorporated, add the chocolate chips and mix briefly to distribute them throughout the dough. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  7. Scoop the dough into 1½-ounce portions onto a cookie sheet (either use a non-stick cookie sheet or use a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper).
  8. Bake for 12-14 minutes, depending on how your oven cooks. (I always make 1 test cookie to check exact length of time.) Remove the cookies when the edges are lightly browned. Since these are chewy cookies, they will look slightly doughy in the middle when you take them out.
  9. Remove from the oven, let rest for a minute or two, and then place the cookies onto a cooling rack (or into your mouth!). Leftover cookies can be stored in an Ziploc bag at room temperature.

Healthy Recipe: Freezer Meatballs

Freezer Meatballs

My favorite thing about this meal is that it allows me to eat healthy while still making something yummy for my whole family.

Freezer Meatballs

INGREDIENTS
1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
1/2 cup low-fat Parmesan cheese
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
2 egg whites
2 carrots, minced
1/2 onion, minced (if watery, drain the water)
3 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and form into approximately 15 meatballs. Line a jelly roll pan with tinfoil and spray with cooking spray. Place meatballs on pan and bake for 20 minutes. (I used a meat thermometer to make sure they were cooked through, or you could cut one open to check.)

Cool on a wire rack covered with wax paper.

Place cooled meatballs in a ziploc bag and freeze. When ready to use, remove however many meatballs you want and heat in microwave. Cover with your choice of healthy marinara sauce and enjoy! I like these just like this, but you could also put a few meatballs in a whole grain tortilla.

Other not-so-healthy ways to use the meatballs: You can put one on a bun or several on a sub roll and cover with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. Then broil the sandwich open-faced in the oven until cheese is melted and serve!

On the go? 16 healthy ideas for snacks and meals

Many of us struggle with trying to eat healthy while on the go. We are running to work, kid’s events, don’t have time for a lunch break, etc. Whatever the reason, here is a list of quick, portable, healthy options to keep you on track even when you are on the run!

Snack & Meal ideas:

  • Hard-boiled eggs: This one is nice and easy because you can cook up an entire batch on the weekend and enjoy all week long.
  • Ants on a Log: Slice celery sticks, cover with peanut butter and sprinkle raisins on top.
  • Peanut Butter, Apple, and Raisin Sandwich: Core and apple and slice into round slices, about 1/2 inch thick. Cover a slice with peanut butter and sprinkle raisins on top. Top with another slice of apple to complete the sandwich. Wrap in Saran wrap to take with you.
  • Trail Mix: I highly recommend making your own trail mix, as most of the ones you will find in the store are actually not that great for you (high in salt, fat, etc.) Choose your ingredients carefully, and beware of extra sugar! Dried fruit, chocolate chips, and other ingredients all add sugar and sometimes fat. I like to start with a main base of something healthy like plain Cheerio-Os or air-popped popcorn (lightly salted), throw in some almonds or pistachios (they are higher in protein than other nuts), and build from there. Some ingredient suggestions: raisins, dried cherries, dried blueberries, roasted pumpkin seeds, pretzels, figs, apricots, whole wheat crackers, and dark chocolate chips (use sparingly!!)
  • Peanut Butter, Apple, and Granola Wrap: Take a tortilla, cover with peanut butter, sprinkle in chopped apples and granola. Roll up in Saran wrap to take with you.
  • KIND granola bars: I love these granola bars! My favorite is a Chocolate Chunk with only 150 calories. Normally, I advise staying away from granola bars because of their high fat and sugar contents, but KIND does granola bars right. Using a base of healthy nuts, these make a great snack!
  • Cottage Cheese & Fruit: This is another easy one, because you can portion out the cottage cheese into 1/2 cup portions in Tupperware containers at the beginning of the week. Also portion out your fruit (strawberries, blueberries, etc) in 1/2 cup portions at the same time. Then just grab a container of cottage cheese and a container of fruit and go!
  • Deli Wrap: Take a tortilla, fill with low sodium turkey, a sprinkle of cheese, lettuce, tomato, celery, or any other veggies you want. Wrap in Saran wrap, and head out the door!
  • Shakes & Smoothies: There are so many varieties to list here, but my favorite is 1 scoop of Chocolate Shakeology (or any chocolate flavored protein powder), 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 2 tablespoons of PB2, and a banana.
  • Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies: Cookies for breakfast? Yes, please!
  • Ranch Dippers: Make this awesome healthy ranch dip. Then, fill the bottom of a travel mug with the ranch dip. Put long slices of carrots, celery, cucumber, snow peas, or any other veggies you like lengthwise in the mug, so they are sticking into the ranch dip. Put the lid on the travel mug and go! The travel mug will help keep the ranch cold while you are on the go, and it’s super easy to eat while in the car.
  • Fruit Skewers: Take fruit (grapes, strawberries, pineapple) and layer on skewers. Wrap the skewers in Saran wrap, grab and go!
  • Meat & Cheese Skewers: Take diced turkey and cheese and arrange on skewers. Wrap the skewers in Saran wrap, grab and go!
  • Overnight Oats: I’m a huge fan of these, because they are ready in your fridge in the morning, and you can just head out the door. Plus they are a hearty meal that really fills you up. I absolutely cannot pick just one recipe, so here are 19 recipes for overnight oats!
  • Egg White Breakfast Burritos: I make these ahead of time and freeze them, so I can just grab them in the morning and head out the door. I microwave them at work, but if you don’t have a microwave available, they can still be eaten cold after they have thawed. They aren’t as good of course, but still edible!
  • Whole Grain English Muffin Sandwich: This one you can make ahead and freeze too, so you can just pull it out in the morning and head to work. Fry up some turkey bacon on a frying pan or griddle. Using an egg ring, cook egg whites until done. Toast whole grain english muffins, and layer on the egg white, turkey bacon, and a slice of cheese. Wrap in Saran wrap and then in tinfoil and freeze. Grab and go in the morning! I microwave them at work, but if you don’t have a microwave available, these can also be eaten cold after they have thawed.

Healthy Recipe: Sausage & Tortellini Soup

Sausage Soup

This is a hearty soup that was a huge hit with my family! A little spicy, a lot of flavor. It’s filled with veggies, making it a healthy choice for dinner.

Sausage & Tortellini Soup
makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package Turkey Kielbasa or Turkey Sausage Links, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, slice in half and remove seeds
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 package Onion soup mix
  • 1 box low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, no salt added (liquid and all)
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 package frozen cheese tortellini

DIRECTIONS

Place all ingredients except for the tortellini in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes and remove jalapenos. (Take out the jalapenos earlier for less spice, leave them in longer for more!) Simmer soup for an additional 30 minutes.

If you intend to serve the soup immediately, put the frozen tortellini in the soup and simmer for an additional 7-10 minutes.

If you intend to freeze the soup for later, don’t add the tortellini because it will get soggy. Remove the soup from heat and let cool. Once room temperature, portion out into Ziploc tupperware containers. Place a sheet of Saran wrap on top and press down to completely cover the soup to prevent freezer burn and then cover with the Ziploc container lid. Place containers in the freezer. Keep the tortellini frozen. When you want to serve the soup, remove the soup and the tortellini from the freezer, heat the soup on the stove, and bring to a boil. Add tortellini and reduce to a simmer for 7-10 minutes. Then serve!

Meal Planning: Tips for Success

Meal planning for me is CRITICAL to success. When I don’t plan, I make such poor eating decisions. I would come home from work, think about dinner, and nothing would sound good, so I would end up eating a massive bowl of Marshmallow Mateys. Not good!

I wanted to share some tips for menu planning that have helped me:

  • Keep it simple – When beginning to menu plan, it’s not a good idea to select the hardest recipes off of Pinterest to try out. You will be pretty likely to get frustrated and give up! Pick easy meals (wraps, salads, crock-pot recipes, etc) and try them out first before you get more complicated.
  • Plan for leftovers – Too many times, I have planned 7 nights of meals, only to hit the 4th night and realize I have 3 nights of leftovers sitting in the fridge going to waste. Often I would stop making meals, start on the leftovers, and then the ingredients I’d bought for the other meals would go to waste because I would never get them made. Allow for this when you are planning. A good rule of thumb to start is to make every 4th night “Leftover Night” so that you don’t have too much food going to waste. Another trick is to always use your leftovers for lunch the next day, if you have a job where you can bring leftovers to work. Reducing waste can help reduce your overall food budget!
  • Allow for your schedule – If you know you are going to be gone one evening or you have activities or meetings, work that into your planning! Schedule a crock-pot meal for that night so that it’s ready the second you come in the door and you can immediately head out to your event.
  • Plan for your ‘fresher’ meals at the beginning of the week – If you only want to grocery shop once a week, like me, then you are aware that fresh ingredients like lettuce rarely look great on the 7th day. So when meal planning it’s important to stack the ‘fresh’ ingredients to be used at the beginning of the week and use more of the frozen or non-perishable items towards the end of the week. That doesn’t mean eating junk food towards the end of the week! It just means salads should come at the beginning, and maybe turkey and cheese wraps towards the end, since wraps and deli meat last WAY longer than lettuce does.
  • Prep, prep, prep – When you get home from the grocery store, prep your fruits and veggies! Wash your celery and wrap it in tinfoil so it lasts longer. Wash your berries and get them portioned out in containers for the week. Chop your veggies for your first few meals. Getting these things done right away makes it so much easier to cook later on!
  • Make a list of the food you already have– This is going to sound tedious to some of you, but making a list of everything in your pantry and freezer can GREATLY reduce the amount of food you are throwing out and buying each month. Keep the list on your fridge and cross items off as you use them! It helps prevent you from standing in front of the freezer trying to dig to the bottom to figure out what you have!
  • Think about investing in eMeals – eMeals is a meal-planning solution that is pretty darn amazing. You can select from a variety of plans (classic, healthy, etc.) and grocery store chains (I use Walmart). The program looks at what is on sale at that grocery store chain that week, and plans your meals for the week around those sale items! It also reuses items throughout the week to prevent waste (so if you put a roast in the crock-pot, you will use one-half in one recipe and the second half in a different recipe that same week.) Once per week, it emails you the list of your meal plan with a full shopping list, or you can use the app for easy access to your shopping list while you are in the grocery store. I think it’s about $60 per year, but they run Groupons all the time, so you can usually get it for about $30 per year. I have to say, we LOVE this service. It’s been an amazing help for meal planning!

Healthy Recipe: Spaghetti Squash with Veggie Sauce

Do you have a favorite meal that just isn’t very good for you?  Don’t throw it in the corner when you go on a diet. Take a look at it and see what you can substitute to make it healthier!!

Often a simple substitution can help cut calories and make a meal more nutritious than it was before. Greek yogurt for sour cream, almond milk for regular milk, etc. In one of my favorite recipes, we take a typical ingredient, spaghetti noodles, and replace it with something just a little bit better for you, spaghetti squash. Check it out!

Spaghetti Squash with Veggie Sauce
Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil to coat the squash before cooking

Sauce

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce
  • garlic powder, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

DIRECTIONS

To prepare the spaghetti squash, cut it in half (lengthwise). Scoop out the seeds and pulp. Lightly coat the inside with olive oil and cover the top with tinfoil. Place it in a glass baking dish tinfoil side down (so the rind is up). Bake 40-45 minutes at 375 degrees. To tell if it is done, poke a fork in the rind. If it slides in easily, the squash is done. If the fork doesn’t go in easily, bake longer. After removing from the oven, let the squash stand for a few minutes. Separate strands of the squash by running a fork through it. Place strands in a bowl and set aside.

In a large frying pan, saute peppers, onion, zucchini, garlic powder, and oil until vegetables are crisp tender. Add spaghetti sauce and heat through.

Serve spaghetti squash covered with sauce.

Healthy Recipe: Chocolate Orange Protein Shake

ChocolateOrange5

Do you remember those chocolates that were shaped like orange slices? Well, if you liked those, you will love this shake! (WARNING: This flavor is NOT for everyone!! If you don’t like chocolate oranges, really, don’t bother trying this shake. You won’t like it!)

Chocolate Orange Protein Shake
INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup Vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (unsweetened original)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1/2 packet of Stevia (or to taste)

DIRECTIONS

Mix all ingredients together in a blender and enjoy!

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