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Nutty for Nut Butter

If you’ve read through my Diet Diary, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of peanut butter (often paired with its best friend, jelly). But I recently found a healthier alternative in almond butter, and fell in love.

However, I was not willing to pay close to $10 per jar, so I hit Google and found plenty of advice on how to make your own homemade almond butter. Not only is it easy, but you can modify the taste by adding different things (honey, cinnamon, etc.) You can also experiment with different nuts – cashew is a popular one.

STEP 1

Arrange the almonds evenly on a foiled pan. Roast at 350°F for 10 minutes. After they’ve been in for 5 minutes, move them around to prevent burning, and leave in for the rest of the time. I warn you – when you take them out of the oven they will smell HEAVENLY so resist eating them right there!

STEP 2

You’ll be putting your blender to good use, as the almonds need to be in there on high for 10 – 15 minutes. At first they will just resemble dust and you’ll need to keep pausing to scrape it off the sides with a rubber spatula. It may seem like butter will never be created, but be patient – just when you think your blender is going to die, it will magically turn to cream! When they have reached this creamy consistency, I add 2 tablespoons of Ideal sweetener and a spoon of cinnamon.

STEP 3 

Voila, behold your fresh, healthy homemade almond butter! Keep it in an airtight container, either in a cupboard or in the fridge. Enjoy on a slice of toast, with apple slices or celery sticks, or incorporate into a wholesome cookie recipe. Just be sure to not eat it all plain – it’s that good!

Thanks to Heather Eats Almond Butter for helpin’ me out with her helpful recipe!

Not-so-Krabby Patty Salad

I’m a diehard Spongebob Squarepants fan, and those of you who aren’t … tsk tsk, you just weren’t raised right 😛 I watched plenty of educational television too, but this show was my favorite (and still kind of is). How can you not love sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea?!

Anyway, this salad features a turkey burger patty atop a bed of lettuce, accompanied with fat free cheese and ketchup. It’s pretty much a burger, but without the bun and with a lot more veggie. Are you ready for some healthy ‘burgers’, cos in the words of Spongebob, “I’m ready, I’m ready!”

 

Step 1) Grill a lean turkey patty on a George Forman grill.  I use this because it extracts all the extra fat, but you can just grill it or put it on the pan – but use PAM, no extra oil or butter!

Step 2) Shred lettuce and place in a bowl. Top with sliced patty, fat free cheese slice and ketchup.

Voila, enjoy this BBQ bonanza without the bun! *awkward annoying Spongebob laugh*

– approx. 200 cal – 

Berry Sweet Layered Loaf

This cake has a layer of sweet berry yogurt sandwiched between its two halves. The blueberry + strawberry yogurt adds a tangy flavor and a cool, creamy texture, making this loaf a great summer treat that’s also low in calories. There’s also no added sugar, and it’s very low in fat. Plus, you get a healthy serving of fruits while you indulge!

The cake portion is made using the recipe for my Low Cal Banana Muffins – same ingredients, but with added chopped strawberries, sweetener instead of the sugar/ honey, and a longer baking time (cakes require longer than muffins, FYI).

Step 1) Make the recipe for my Low Cal Banana Muffins. Switch the sugar/ honey for sweetener (Ideal/ Splenda/ etc.) for fewer calories. Mix in 4 large chopped strawberries when everything else is stirred.  I also add half a cup of milk when everything else is stirred to make the batter more liquid, because initially it is pretty lumpy and dry. 

Step 2) Pour batter into a round pan greased with PAM. Bake at 4000°F for 40 – 50 minutes.

Step 3) When cake is done baking, remove from pan and leave it on a rack to cool. While it’s cooling, make the yogurt filling. In a blender, just combine 1 cup chopped strawberries, 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup non fat plain yogurt and some additional sweetener. Blend and pour in a bowl, place in freezer for 5 minutes (while you cut the cake in half.)

Step 4) To cut the cake in half,  follow these steps by eHow. Allow both sides to cool on a rack for 5 – 10 minutes.

Step 5) Spread yogurt filling on bottom half of cake, and place top half on top. The yogurt is still quite liquidy and so, to prevent it from spilling over the sides of the cake, I put on one layer first and froze the bottom half for 5 minutes. I then put the rest of the yogurt on. 

Step 6) Refrigerate whole cake for 10 – 20 minutes.

Om nom nom

– 140 cal per 1/8 of cake – 

Multi Grain Goodness Pancakes

The flax seed pancakes I made for mommy on Mother's Day 🙂 She also prefers this type!

Who doesn’t love a hot pancake for breakfast, or even lunch or dinner for that matter? I’m a big fan, but I steer clear of the common white fluff variety. I feel as though ‘normal’ pancakes don’t have any real consistency – you just chew ’em and they vanish! It makes me quite sad, and my waistline is not the happiest camper either when I nosh on this all-American breakfast staple.

But multi grain + flax seed = a much better version. A lot of people have an aversion to anything that contains ‘flax seed’ because it sounds disgustingly nutritious and not at all tasty. *BEEP*, wrong answer! These pan cakes are crunchy and have a nut-like flavor, are heavier and therefore more filling, and have a lot more valuable nutritional content.

How I make mine: 1/3 cup pancake mix, 1/3 cup skim milk,

The pancake mix I use, I highly recommend it!

 1/2 an egg (both white and yolk) 1 tsp olive oil. This makes one medium pancake. I cook them on the pan using PAM no-calorie spray, and eat them with sugar free grape jam (better than syrup!)

So simple to make, tasty, filling and nutritious. A perfect low calorie breakfast that’ll keep your tummy tank full till lunch!

 

The Perfect Pops

It's okay Popsicle, I like you!

As the days get hotter, everyone is looking for that ice cool treat. Most people turn to ice cream, but it’s not the best solution. Filled with fat and sugar, ice cream is easily beat by a nice refreshing ice pop. However, the ones you buy in stores or from the ice cream truck may be low in fat and calories, but they are very high in sugar. So here are two types of pops that I make at home: neither has any added sugar, and both are super satisfying. And not only are they a healthy treat for you to enjoy, but they are so easy to make!

To make your own popsicles, all you need are some basic ingredients and an ice pop mold (which can be purchased for less than $2 from any supermarket).

#1: The Milkshake Pop

This pop is completely homemade, yet takes less than 5 minutes to whip together.  All you need is 1 cup plain non fat yogurt, 2 sliced bananas, 1/2 cup skim milk, honey and cinnamon. Put the ingredients into a blender for 2 or 3 minutes and pour into the mold. The amount of honey you use depends on how sweet you want your pops – I use 2 tablespoons. You can also add other fruits, such as strawberries or melon. You’ll have 8 pops at 50 cal each!

#2: The Pudding Pop

This pop is made using sugar free pudding mix. There are so many flavors by Jell-O that you won’t get bored – experiment a little!  You’ll need 1 box Jell-O Sugar Free Fat Free Pudding, 2 cups fat free milk. Simply prepare the pudding by whisking the powder with the milk and pour into your popsicle molds. You’ll have 8 pops at 35 cal each!

Super Spaghetti Squash

I love pasta, but I try as much as possible to avoid it. There are 200 calories in one serving of this carb-filled ‘staple’, but hardly anyone stops there. The average pasta dish in a restaurant is 3 or 4 servings, and even people who make it at home use more than one handful-sized serving. So when I found this recipe for spaghetti made out of a vegetable … I was amused, but pretty skeptical. Squash = spaghetti? Can it be? IT CAN. I made this today and it tasted like a slightly crunchier version of spaghetti, with an amazing taste. And at only 45 calories a cup, it can’t be beat! Plus, the cooking process is so easy. With only three ingredients and NO added oil/ butter/ salt, there is no pasta dish simpler and healthier than this.

Step 1) Scoop all seeds out of half of squash and fill the space with 1/3 cup water. Microwave on high for 8 minutes.

Step 2) Bring pasta sauce to a simmer. I use Classico’s Florentine Spinach and Cheese tomato sauce. It has 80 cal per 1/2 cup, but I’m going to try and find a lower cal sauce next time I go shopping. This tastes really yummy though! 

Step 3) Remove squash from microwave and scoop out flesh with a fork (it will automatically take the shape of spaghetti). Top with sauce and sprinkle with cheese.

– 125 cal –

Summer Nut Salad

Here’s something quick and easy that you can bring to the next lunch together. This salad tastes good, is packed full of nutritious nuts and is not too filling. Light and cooling, it’s the perfect side dish for a meal in the sun.

Step 1) Roast sunflower seeds and cashews in a pan, spray with PAM spray and season with salt and garlic powder. This step is optional, I do it to add more flavor. If you want to create this salad quicker, you can just add the nuts without this step. 

Step 2) Chop walnuts and put on top of lettuce, along with other nuts.

Step 3) Drizzle with Cucumber Yogurt Dressing – get the recipe here –  and sprinkle parmesan cheese.

– 200 cal – This depends on the quantity of nuts you use. 

*NOTE: Use unsalted nuts for this recipe; this is what makes it healthy.