Raising the Bar on Breakfast

As kids we wanted chocolate for breakfast, but mom always said no. She’d say that chocolate was for dessert and would just get us hyper and let us down in the school day. But what if I told you that you could have chocolate for breakfast and it wouldn’t ruin your whole day? It’s true!

There is a great blog with a delicious recipe for double banana chocolate chip breakfast bars that are simply to die for.

I first heard about these bars from my friend Lauren who loves to bake. She makes these for her friends a lot because they’re super easy. She sent me the link to the blog she got the recipe from and I can’t wait to make them!

So let’s make them together shall we?

*Disclaimer: I didn’t get the banana chips 😦 so my bars aren’t complete…but they’re still really yummy!*

For these treats you’ll need the following:

  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup chopped banana chips
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats

now, a lot of these things I already had in my kitchen, and for the remaining ingredients I spent about $10 so this is an inexpensive baking adventure!

Here’s how we make them…

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the banana with a fork and then add the canola oil and brown sugar. Mix well until there are no sugar lumps left.
  3. In another (smaller) bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and oats. Mix into wet ingredients and add banana chips and chocolate chips.
  4. Pat batter down into a greased square 8-inch pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until edges are golden. Let cool before cutting into squares.

I made you all a little video to show how everything comes together…enjoy!

See? Look how easy that was… Twenty minutes of prep-time and 25 minutes of baking. So little time and effort for something super yummy!

The Healthy Hangover

So this past weekend was my roommate 21st birthday. To put it lightly she’s had better Sunday mornings.

In an effort to make her feel like a human once again, I asked her if I could get her anything.  Her answer? A large order of McDonalds French fries.

Now of course I wanted my friend to feel better, but I was buying.  And she said fries and then my other roommates wanted some. And so did our friends visiting, and admittedly then I did to. The bill started racking up, and being a bit of a health freak myself, so did the calories.

When most people think fast food, they would call me crazy for saying it could get expensive.  But when a crowd of hung-over people walks into a McDonalds, there’s always potential to leave with lighter wallets.

Here’s my solution: a bag of potatoes.

I got this whole bag from a local produce store when I went home last weekend for a mere $2.00. I’ve checked out the local scene at Food Lion and Wal-Mart and the both have similar options for no more then $2.99.

 

But how this plain old bag of potatoes really be transformed into mouth watering fries aka the cure for my roommates pounding headache?

  • As mentioned before, her extra pocket cash kind of ran away last night at the bar, so this is a very cost effective option. For $2.00 I can make some hangover food for all of us at the same price of a just 1 order of a large McDonalds Fry.
  • It’s healthy! My roommate is a bit of a workout-aholic and believe me she’s not moving from the couch anytime soon. Its better to ditch the fast food fat and snack on this treat which is full of dietary fiber (you can even leave the skin on!), makes you feel fuller longer, and saves on the calories.

So here’s my simple recipe that will be sure to win over your hearts, you just have to trust me.

  • Cut up all the potatoes into the size of your choice.

  • Gently wet them and stick ‘em in the microwave for about two minutes.  This may sound weird but this saves you from having to coat them in oil to get the crispy golden fry effect!
  • Lay down some tin foil on a baking pan, and throw the fries on top!
  • This is the fun part: season the fries to your liking. I personally love throwing on some oregano and basil leaves, maybe even some Cajun seasoning if I’m feeling daring. This is your chance to experiment!

  • Place them in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees. The time will vary depending on how crunchy you prefer your fries!

**  With about 5 minutes left, I melt a piece of Kraft’s Fat free American cheese because, well because I love cheese.

The whole recipe for one piece of cheese, one medium red potato, plus seasonings is only 170 calories and get this- NO FAT!  A large McDonalds fry comes in around 500 calories and 25% of your daily fat intake.  And out of just one potato I got this many to munch on!  Chop up a couple more potatoes if you have some extra guests to feed like I do, you have a whole bag!

With all these potatoes you can even pre-cut them and freeze them to have your hangover cure readily available.  So get creative (sweet potatoes anyone?), enjoy the great taste, and feel wonderful knowing you saved money and saved on calories!

It’s All in the Bag

In a hurry? Need a snack? Before you you grab something unhealthy, let’s think of something delicious and healthy to eat first.

It’s so easy just to grab that little bag of chips or cookies and run, right? But what if there was a way to grab something fast and not feel bad about it later?

There is! And it’s as simple as a box of Ziploc bags…

Since we’re all on busy schedules going from place to place, no time to make ourselves a tidy salad, might I suggest getting some of your favorite healthy food and keeping some in separate bags in the fridge so you can grab one and get to that meeting on time and with a happy stomach.

All it takes is a box of plastic bags and your favorite fruit and/or veggies, I suggest grapes, carrots, and celery just because those are low calorie options that won’t make a big mess in case you’re eating these while you’re driving.

Let’s compare the nutritional value of a bag of potato chips to our homemade veggie bags…

small bag of potato chips  has 115 calories and 10.6 grams of  total fat  versus our little bag of carrots  at 4 calories and NO FAT!

Eating these tasty snacks on the go instead of potato chips will help you get through whatever you’re going to–whether it’s a business meeting or a college class or even a road trip, this is a great way to tide you over until your next meal!

Another healthy alternative would be those fun 100 Calories snack packs. They have just enough goodies in each bag to satisfy your appetite without giving you the added calories! The bags might make you feel like you’re not getting much, but it’s really just enough to tide you over in the afternoon.

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Lettuce Help with Your Fajitas

Have you been wondering, “how can I make my fajitas and eat them too?”

Let’s face it, it’s almost bathing suit season and those darn tortillas are so fattening. So how can we have our fajitas without adding the fat of tortillas?

Try lettuce!

I took this idea from living with someone who has gone gluten-free. Wheat is found in most tortillas and for those going gluten-free, wheat=gluten=horrible stomach pains.

For those of us who aren’t gluten-free, tortillas only have one downside…the fat they add to our yummy fajitas.

Let’s compare two recipes: one for fajitas made with tortillas and one with lettuce leaves.

The following recipes come from the Kraft Foods recipe site.

This fajita recipe includes the use of tortillas and, with the inclusion of the other ingredients has:

  • a total fat count of 13 g/serving
  • 400 calories
  • 55 mg of cholesterol
  • and 1110 mg of sodium

Now this fajita lettuce wrap recipe includes roughly the same ingredients as the last recipe, but it replaces the tortillas with large leaves of iceberg lettuce. This recipe has:

  • 11 g of total fat/serving
  • 280 calories
  • 85 mg of cholesterol*
  • and 500 mg of sodium

*the added amount of cholesterol is due to added flavoring mentioned in the recipe

Lettuce leaves can be used in the place of the more fattening starches in other recipes as well. My aforementioned housemate made some great hamburgers for dinner one night and replaced the bun with two large lettuce leaves.

This idea of using lettuce leaves has impacted restaurants as well. At Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches they give you the option to take any of their famous sandwiches and make it an “unwich” meaning they give you all the same ingredients, but replace the bread with a large piece of lettuce. Pair one of these with a bag of Jimmy’s Thinny Chips and you’ve got yourself a low-carb meal!

But don’t just take my word for it, check out the nutrition facts for all of Jimmy John’s healthy options.

So the next time you want a healthier alternative for dinner, put down the rolls and pick up a head of lettuce!