Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These chewy oatmeal cookies are the perfect holiday cookie – no one would even guess that they are filled with fiber and boast more protein than the average cookie! Using rolled oats, Greek yogurt, dark chocolate and ground cinnamon, these cookies offer wholesome goodness that taste good, too!

cookies

Ingredients (yields ~ 20 cookies)

1 1/2 C rolled oats

1 C whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp allspice

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 C dark brown sugar

1/4 C honey

1 large egg plus 1 large egg white, scrambled

2 Tbsp plain 0% Greek yogurt

1/4 C dark chocolate chips (try to look for  at least 72% cocoa)

2 Tbsp 1% (low fat) milk

2 Tbsp water

Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray

batterDirections:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl (oats, flour, baking powder, spices, brown sugar).
  3. Combine wet ingredients in a separate medium bowl (honey, eggs, yogurt, milk, water).
  4. Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients in the larger mixing bowl. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spray baking sheet with nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray (you will need two baking sheets).
  6. Scoop batter into balls approximately 1 inch in diameter, roll each ball in your hands and place on baking sheet. Press down on each ball to form a cookie shape (batter is slightly liquid-y, so the cookies may naturally take this shape)
  7. Bake in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes, until cookies are browned and a toothpick comes out clean when poked through the center of the cookie. Enjoy!

*store in an airtight container to preserve freshness

*these cookies are extra amazing when warmed slightly in the microwave – just don’t overdo it!

cookie sheet

 

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving

Calories 136 calories, Total Fat 7 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 18 g, Fiber 3 g, Protein 2 g, Sodium 69 mg, Calcium 37 mg

A Delicious Dip!

Creamy Cucumber Dill Yogurt Dip

This Tzatziki-style dip is simple to make and offers healthy protein along with a ton of flavor! With 7 grams of protein and less than 50 calories per serving, this dip is the perfect addition to any holiday party – without that heavy holiday food feeling!

yogurt dip

Ingredients (serves 6):

1 1/2 C 0% fat, plain Greek yogurt

3/4 C fresh cucumber, diced (make sure to dice into very tiny pieces)

1 1/2 Tbsp dried dill weed

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

dash salt

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and serve chilled. How easy is that?!

*Serve with veggies, crackers, pita or use as a topper for grilled chicken, fish, meat or anything!

Note: This dip is best when served immediately, as the cucumbers can make the dip watery if left to sit for too long. If you are making this dip ahead of time, allow the cucumbers to drain on a paper towel in the fridge for a few hours so that they don’t hold as much water. This dip is still great as leftovers, but if entertaining it is best to make just prior to serving.

cucumber

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving (1 serving is about 1/4 C dip)

Calories 43 calories, Total Fat 0 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Protein 7 g, Carbohydrates 5 g, Fiber 0 g, Sodium 50 mg, Calcium 85 mg 

Smoothie Season

With this insanely nice weather, I’ve been craving ice cream and cold treats. However, ice cream can be loaded with added sugar and fat and is not a low-calorie snack. Instead, I’ve been making my own smoothies every morning with plain, 0% fat, Greek yogurt and fresh and frozen fruit. Not only this is a super-quick (it literally takes less than 3 minutes to prepare!) breakfast or snack, but it’s great on-the-go in a thermos. Also, this is an ideal breakfast to make the night before – just store in a covered glass in the fridge and give it a stir in the morning. After making these smoothies, you won’t even be thinking about ice cream, anymore!

Berry Yummy Smoothie

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Ingredients (serves 1):

3 oz 0% fat, plain Greek yogurt (I like Fage – it tastes creamier than many others)

1/2 C frozen berries (I like to use a frozen berry medley of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries)

1/2 tsp honey

3 ice cubes

Directions:

1. Place ice cubes in blender (I am in love with my Magic Bullet – perfect for whipping up smoothies quickly and such little clean up!). Pulse until finely chopped. This creates more liquid so that the smoothie blends well.

2. Add yogurt, berries and honey to blender. Blend until smooth (about 1 minute). You may need to pause the blender and stir every once in awhile in order to incorporate all frozen pieces.

3. Pour into cup or thermos and enjoy!

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

Calories 96 calories, Fat 0 g fat, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 35 mg, Carbohydrates 15 g, Fiber 3 g, Protein 9 g, Calcium 110 mg

Ready to blend!

Ready to blend!

Gone Bananas For Mango Smoothie

Ingredients (serves 1):IMG_0954

3 oz. 0% fat, plain Greek yogurt

1/2 C frozen mango chunks

1 small banana (or cut a large banana in half and save the other half in the fridge)

1/2 tsp honey

3 ice cubes

Directions:

1. Place ice cubes in blender and pulse until finely chopped.

2. Add yogurt, mango, banana (in small chunks – I usually break my banana into quarters) and honey to blender. Blend until smooth (about 1 minute). You may need to pause the blender and stir every once in awhile in order to incorporate all frozen pieces.

3. Pour into cup or thermos and enjoy!

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

Calories 204 calories, Fat 0 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 44 g, Fiber 4 g, Protein 9 g, Calcium 94 mg

Interested in other smoothie ideas?

Instead of the banana in the mango smoothie (above), I’ve used 1/4 C fresh pineapple chunks – and it tastes amazing! Other fun  smoothie ideas? strawberry kiwi, banana berry, or, for a more filling option, banana-peanut butter! I’ll post some other great smoothie recipes as the warm weather continues and feel free to post your favorites!

 

 

 

Warm Kale, Beet and Feta Salad

Warm Kale, Beet and Feta Salad

This seasonal salad is packed with vitamins and minerals and will keep you warm in these chilly temperatures. Beets and kale are both vegetables that can be grown through the winter and bought at local farmer’s markets and grocery stores during this time when vegetables can seem scarce. The hearty, crisp taste of kale is balanced by the sweet taste of beets and creamy feta cheese in this warm salad, which is a cinch to make. As tasty as it is pretty, this winter-y salad will become your new favorite for entertaining – or just eating on your own!

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Ingredients (serves 4):

6 C kale, raw, chopped (wash thoroughly and remove large stems)

8 oz. baby beets (I like Melissa’s Ready-To-Eat Baby Beets, which are steamed, peeled and ready to eat. 1 package is 8 oz, which is about 5 baby beets. You can also roast your own beets! If you roast your own, you should do so before preparing this dish, as they should be ready to eat in this recipe).

1/4 C reduced- fat feta cheese, crumbledIMG_0567

1.5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon, freshly squeezed

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 C water

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil in large pan over medium heat (I recommend using a pan with large sides, or a pot, as the kale starts out piled high in the pan before it cooks down).IMG_0566

2. Add kale to pan. Add water and cover. Allow kale to cook covered for approximately 5 minutes. The kale should be a bright green color and there should be some excess liquid when the cover is removed.

3. Remove cover and stir kale until it begins to wilt, about 3 minutes. The liquid should be mostly evaporated by now. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Cut beets into wedges and add to kale. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer from pan to serving dish. Top with feta cheese and serve warm. Enjoy!

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

Calories 149 calories, Fat 8 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 6 mg, Carbohydrates 18 g, Fiber 4 g, Protein 6 g, Sodium 235 mg, Calcium 176 mg

I served it with butternut squash ravioli!

I served it with butternut squash ravioli!

No Lettuce? No Problem! Edamame, Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad

Edamame, Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad

This simple salad is a cinch to put together and is a great salad to use for entertaining, or to pack for the day to load up with good nutrition on-the-go. Edamame contains soy protein, helping to to fill you up without filling you out. Also, tomatoes contain lycopene, which is a potent antioxidant. But you won’t even be thinking about how good this salad is for you when you’re eating it- you’ll just be thinking about how good it tastes!

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Ingredients (serves 2):

1/2 C cooked, shelled edamame (*tip: try to find a brand that does not add salt to lower the sodium content)

1 C cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 C sliced English cucumber (with skin)

1/4 C reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

dash salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients. How simple is that?!

*If your soybeans are salted, you may choose to skip the extra salt -this can make your salad taste too salty and also makes the sodium unnecessarily high.

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

Calories 150, Fat 9 g, Saturated Fat 3 g, Cholesterol 13 mg, Carbohydrates 11 g, Fiber 4 g, Protein 10 g, Sodium 284 mg, Calcium 131 mg

Let’s Talk About Snacks, Baby…

Why We Need “The Talk”…

I have noticed that many people I know are concerned about snacking. In fact, it seems as though salty-snackspeople are afraid of snacking, which is upsetting because eating (including snacking) should be a joyful experience. You are giving your body nutrients so that it can be strong for you and you are also enjoying the smell, taste and texture of the food (or at least you should be!) However, when it comes to snacking, I think some people are confused about which snacks are “good” or “bad”. I do not like to think of food in terms of “good” or bad”. Food is food. It can taste good or bad, but it is not, in itself, good or bad. Instead, I try to eat different types of food in moderation. For example, I often cook healthful breakfasts, lunches and dinners and usually eat fruit, vegetables or yogurt in between meals. However, if I want a cookie, or a muffin, or some other “treat” one day, I will likely have it – as part of a balanced diet. This concept seems to provoke a strong reaction in many people, as it seems many people associate foods such as cookies or ice cream with guilt. It is time to work on your relationship (with food) and befriend the enemy.

*photo courtesy of http://www.abetterbagofgroceries.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/salty-snacks.jpg 

Just Hear Me Out…

This is a break-up with your diet habits. Dieting does not usually lead to long-term weight loss. Skipping meals (and snacks) could cause binge-eating later, along with feelings of deprivation, guilt and behaviors associated with disordered eating. Instead, it is finally time to begin a new relationship with food – a healthy relationship, in which there is respect, peace and happiness. Now, I know many people want to enjoy snacking – who wouldn’t? However, confusion and anxiety about how to snack can certainly take the fun out of what is supposed to be both enjoyable and beneficial. So I am here to sort out fact from fiction, and offer up some of my favorite snack ideas, from whole foods to packaged goodies. After hearing my side, hopefully we can work it out.

Dark chocolateRumor Has it…

So, what is a “snack” and how does it differ from a “meal”? Truth is, depending on what works for you, a snack may not be any different from a meal. Many people find that eating multiple, small meals during the day helps to keep them feeling full and provides their bodies with adequate nutrition. However, if you are eating three meals a day (which, at a minimum, you should!) snacking is often a helpful way to keep your metabolism humming and tide you over until your next meal. Ideally, if someone is on a 1,800 calorie – 2,000 calorie diet (by “diet” I mean their average dietary intake, not a “diet” in the typical sense), meals should approximate 500 calories each, leaving 300 – 500 calories for snacking. (It should be noted that everyone’s caloric requirement is different and this is just an example). An ideal snack is typically thought to be about 150 – 300 calories, although this  can obviously vary from person-to- person and time-to-time. Snacks should usually consist of foods that offer healthful benefits, for example, a fruit that offers fiber along with vitamins and minerals. However, a snack can also be something that isn’t so much a contributor to your nutrient-dense calories, but rather, something you want to eat and can eat in moderation, knowing that your nutrients are coming from elsewhere in the diet. So it’s okay to break out the chocolate and ice cream every once in awhile – this is a break up after all. Just remember the foundations of good nutrition: balance, variety and moderation.

*photo courtesy of http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2012/8/17/1345200214609/Dark-chocolate-009.jpg

I Can See Clearly Now…

So, hopefully by now you are feeling that not only is it okay to snack – you are encouraged to snack. Just snack wisely (most of the time)! here are some of my favorite snacks, ranging from unprocessed fruits and vegetables to pre-packaged, store-bought convenience items.

Fruit:

This is an easy one. Need an on-the-go snack? Whole fruits that you can bite into, such as apples, pears, peaches, plums, apricots and bananas are great, portable options. Additionally, you can cut up fruit when you do have the time so that when you are busy, you can just reach for the container (or bag, or whatever you choose to store your cut up fruit in) and bring it with you. Dried fruit is also a good option – just be aware of the sugar content. The process of drying is a dehydration process and usually sugar is used to attract water out of the fruit, increasing the sugar content of the fruit once it has been dried. If you’re at home, you can enjoy some of my favorite snacks and desserts: cut up grapefruit, broiled grapefruit with brown sugar, melted dark chocolate with strawberries and bananas, banana slices with peanut butter, frozen grapes or frozen dark chocolate-dipped bananas. Right now, clementines are also especially sweet!

07-Beautiful-Fruit-Wallpapers

*photo courtesy of http://picsmesh.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/07-Beautiful-Fruit-Wallpapers.jpg 

Vegetables, Beans, Legumes:

I like to bring sliced bell pepper, cucumber and carrots with me and usually I will bring a small container of hummus. The vegetables on their own do not contain many calories, but they offer a ton of vitamins and minerals and are full of water and fiber, which help to keep me full. Hummus helps to fill me up if I want a heartier snack and adds even more fiber. Edamame is another fun snack. A great tip is to sprinkle on the salt after you have heated the soybeans, since you will be able to taste the crystals that are on the surface and can use less salt. Edamame is also great on its own, eaten warm or cold. Also, I am unashamed to admit that I still eat ants on a log – more appropriately referred to at my age as celery with peanut butter and raisins.

originalOn-The-Go Bars and Treats:

I have recently become addicted to Larabars. These bars are minimally processed and contain very few ingredients (some bars only have 2 ingredients!), all of which I can pronounce and recognize as food items. While many granola bars and other on-the-go bars contain ingredients made in a laboratory and cheap, added fibers, such as inulin, which can often cause gastrointestinal distress, Larabars are made from dates and contain a few ingredients to enhance the flavor of the dates. The fiber and nutrients are all there, in a conveniently packaged bar that averages around 200 calories. My favorite flavor is peanut butter chocolate chip! I also make my own trail mixes, using individually packaged nuts, seeds and fruit. Here is my favorite combination: cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, dried blueberries, pieces of dark chocolate. Try to find unsalted or reduced-salt versions of nuts when making your own trail mixes.

*photo courtesy of http://s3.amazonaws.com/jo.www.larabar.com.2011/uploads/page/meta_social_images/15/original.png?1333057076

Creamy Deliciousness:total-0

My favorite go-to snack when I crave creaminess is Greek yogurt. I like Fage 0% plain, which contains few ingredients, among which are live, active cultures of beneficial bacteria that can colonize as microflora in the intestine and contribute to immune and digestive health. Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus are the names of bacteria to look for when reading your yogurt label. I like to eat my Greek yogurt either with fruit, fruit and chocolate chips, fruit and honey, granola (usually my homemade granola, which can be found on this blog, although I also am a fan of Purely Elizabeth’s use of quinoa, chia, amaranth and other grains and seeds). I also like to put my Greek yogurt in a smoothie, whether it’s a light fruit smoothie (using REAL fruit) or a protein-packed peanut butter smoothie (which usually contains chocolate or a banana – or both!) If you’re craving ice cream, Breyer’s has a natural line that really hits the spot. I’m a fan of Breyer’s Natural Vanilla, which contains just four simple ingredients. I usually top my ice cream with some melted peanut butter to pump up the protein (and because I do not think there is any one food that I love more than peanut butter).

*photo courtesy of http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/cheese/yogurt/images/total-0.jpg 

Other Processed Foods:

My most recent find is Boom Chicka Pop popcorn, which has a “lightly sweet” flavor that tastes just like kettle-corn. This popcorn is only 35 calories per cup, or 120 calories for each 3 1/4 C serving. Also, this snack packs in 5 grams of fiber per serving and is surprisingly not high in sodium or sugar. I also like baked chips or cape cod chips, which have considerable less fat than regular potato chips. When it comes to cakes, muffins and cookies, I tend to bake my own, since I can replace oils and other fats with more healthful ingredients, such as Greek yogurt, swap out some of the all purpose flour for whole wheat flour and ensure that I am aware of the amount of sugar I am consuming (and making sure that it is as natural as possible). It should be noted that black strap molasses actually contains calcium, so this sweetener is a wise choice. However, if you do not wish to bake your own baked goods, my advice is to read the nutrition label. Many of these commercially-sold baked goods contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, trans fats and a labyrinth of an ingredients label. Try to focus on foods (processed or otherwise) that you can recognize as foods. If you do not recognize the ingredient (or can’t pronounce it, like many chemicals and food additives used), it is likely not worthy of entering your body.

boom pop

*photo courtesy of http://www.plummarket.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/8/9/892773000697_1_1.jpg 

Parting Words…

I hope I cleared up some of the rumors and preconceived notions about snacks. I like to follow the “80/20 rule” – make sure that 80% of your diet provides the nutrients you need and you can allow about 20% of your diet to be wiggle room. Your healthy relationship with food can involve snacking! In fact, snacking is a great complement to an active, healthy lifestyle. You must always remember to fuel your body – it works hard for you!

A Homemade Granola Recipe That’s Lip Smackin’ Good!

Granola with Dried Raspberries, Dark Chocolate and Almonds

This granola is great paired with milk, as part of a Greek yogurt parfait, or plain as an on-the-go snack. Better yet, this granola contains less fat and sugar than many store-bought brands and is super easy to make! Oats offer up way more than fiber – they also are suspected of having strong anti-microbial properties and also contain a ton of antioxidants! Paired with dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) and raspberries, this snack is full of compounds that reduce oxidative stress! Grab a handful after a workout and neutralize potentially harmful free radicals while fueling up with carbs and protein!

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Ingredients (yields 2.5 C, serves 10):

2 C rolled oats

1/2 C sliced almonds (unsalted)

1/3 C dried raspberries

2 oz dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)

1 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp canola oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.IMG_0587

2. Combine wet ingredients (water, honey, oil, vanilla extract) in medium bowl.

3. Add rolled oats to bowl and mix into wet ingredients with hands.

4. Place parchment paper (or aluminum foil) on baking sheet. Pour contents from bowl onto parchment paper and spread into thin, even layer.

5. Place baking sheet in oven and bake approximately 45 minutes. Stir ingredients every 10-15 minutes.

6. Remove baking sheet from oven. Add almonds and mix ingredients. Spread into thin, even layer. Place back in oven for 20-25 minutes.

7.Remove baking sheet from oven and allow granola to cool (about 15 minutes). Transfer contents into large bowl, Tupperware or plastic bag. Add dried raspberries. Break chocolate into small pieces and add to granola. Serve or store (granola should last approximately 2-3 weeks, if stored properly).

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving (1 serving is 1/4 C granola)

Calories 171 calories, Fat 9 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 2 mg, Carbohydrates 20 g, Fiber 4 g, Sugar 6 g, Protein 5 g, Calcium 33 mg