Archive for October, 2011

Easy and Healthy Halloween Snacks

Happy Halloween!

Has anyone else gone overboard with Halloween candy this year? In case you and your family are on sugar overload like me from chocolate and candy, here are three healthy but festive snack ideas that are both fun and easy to throw together- no added sugars, just fruit with a bit of protein from the nut butter and string cheese: Apricot Fruit Bugs, Apple Bites and Ghost Cheese :)

All three snacks require no cooking or baking and can be thrown together rather quickly for an afternoon plate or even for a party platter!

Chris and I went to a Halloween party this weekend, we dressed up and I brought snacks. Tons of food, dips, dessert and homemade chili :) Here’s one photo with a few of us – Chris was a racing pit crew (we are on a budget, he wore a helmet at first but it got hot), I was a black and white clown (I’m all about comfort, can you tell? Oh and my red nose kept falling off), to the right of me was “a guy riding an ostrich” which won for the most original costume, next was a Harajuku girl, Mario and Luigi in kid-sized costumes (ha!) and a sexy female Zorro. At the party were three different groups that dressed up as Waldo – no one knew each other either, who would have thought that? Pretty funny…

Also, when you have a second, check out Cara’s Halloween video over at Fork and Beans. She’s been rockin’ her blog the whole month of October with all sorts of festive food and homemade candy. To top it off, she wrapped up this month out with an adorable video – love that girl!

Apricot Fruit Bugs 

Ingredients

6 packages all-natural fruit leather (I used Stretch Island Fruit Snacks, grape flavor but any will do)
16 dried apricots
sesame seeds OR sunflower seeds OR currants OR melted coconut butter for eyes

Useful Tools/Equipment:
metal or wooden skewer

Directions

1. Carefully open the fruit strips so they do not tear. Using a sharp knife, cut each fruit leather into 8 thin vertical strips. With the three packages, you should have a total of 48 strips or “legs” for the bugs.
2. Gently squeeze the sides of an apricot together until 3/4-inch thick. Using a wooden skewer, make a hole through the center of the side of the apricot and thread one of the fruit leathers through the hole. Repeat twice more on either side of the first hole. Gently flatten out the apricot to its original shape.
3. The end of the fruit leather that is inserted into the apricot will become slightly sticky when pulling through the center, I dabbed two sesame seeds on the legs for an adhesive and made two eyes. This could also be done with maple syrup/honey/agave or melted coconut butter for a “glue”. You could also melt coconut butter and pipe straight onto the apricot to make eyes in lieu of the seeds or nuts. Enjoy!

Makes 16 fruit bugs (easy to cut in half or thirds for smaller batch if needed)

“Bugs” can be kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Ghost Cheese (inspired by Octopus Hot Dogs at Cafe Mom)

Ingredients

String cheese
currants, small pieces of raisins or other dried fruit or black olives for eyes

Tools/equipment needed
boning knife
wooden skewer

Directions

1. Cut stick of string cheese in half so you have two “ghosts”. Using a sharp boning knife, slice each piece of cheese in half lengthwise, leaving 3/4 to 1 inch connected at one end for the “head”.
2. Cut the two legs in half again half length-wise, so you now have 4 “legs.” Continue (if desired) to cut in halves to make a total of eight legs.
3. To insert eyes (currants, raisins or olives), poke two holes in the “head” of the ghost and push the two eyes in to adhere. Enjoy!

For step by step instructions on cutting, please click here.

Apple-Nut Butter Teeth (inspired by Fork and Beans’ Apple Vampire Mouths)

Ingredients

2 apples (I used two Granny Smith)
handful of sliced or blanched almonds or raisins, cut in half or sunflower seeds
lemon juice (to help prevent turning brown), optional but for aesthetics
your favorite nut or seed butter, homemade or store-bought

Tools/equipment needed
1 small knife or boning knife

Directions

1. Cut each apple into 4 slices. Cut core from each wedge.
2. With a small knife, carve out a small wedge to make a top and bottom lip. Make sure not to cut too far because you want to make sure that the apple is still in tact.
3. Place lemon juice in a bowl and brush onto each apple wedge (optional).
3. With a small knife, spread a small amount if nut or seed butter on the bottom “lip”.
4.  Carefully and gently (to avoid “teeth” breaking),  place the almonds/seeds/raisins into the top portion of the mouth until it sticks without holding it. The nut/seed butter also helps hold the “teeth” into place. Use your knife to carve out a little tiny hole if needed. Enjoy!

Makes 8 apple teeth. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

For step by step cutting instructions, click here.

In addition to my snacks, I also brought a creamy pumpkin dip with vanilla wafers and ginger snaps to the party, recipe soon! Whoops, so much for sugar overload :)

Wishing everyone a safe (but fun) Halloween tonight!

October 31, 2011 at 1:15 pm 18 comments

Creamy “Monster Mash” Smoothie

It’s almost Halloween and I haven’t posted all my “Halloween” recipes! I still have two days to fit them in…

Have you ever tried adding avocado to a smoothie? Not only does the avocado add heart-healthy fat and make your smoothie thick and rich-tasting, one half of the fruit adds 7-8 grams of healthy fiber to help keep you feeling full longer.

Sweet mango, creamy avocado and non-dairy milk make up the bulk of this protein smoothie. With belly-filling fiber from the avocado and chia seed/flax and a good dose of protein, fruit and veggies, this simple recipe is great for an on-the-go breakfast, pre or post-workout drink or a light meal when you are short on time. The colors are perfect for Halloween too – so if your kids are afraid of green food (ie. spinach), maybe they will be more willing to give it a try since it’s festive…a bonus for you is they will be eating/drinking plenty of nutrients!

If you really aren’t a fan of adding greens to your smoothie, feel free to leave out the fresh spinach…however, it is completely undetectable (I promise) and is just an easy way to incorporate more veggies into your day! No excuses on the avocado though because it isn’t a vegetable – it’s a fruit, so don’t be scared :)

Creamy Monster Mash Smoothie

Ingredients

1 medium avocado, coarsely chopped (to fit in blender)
1 cup non-dairy milk (coconut, almond, rice etc) OR 1 cup orange juice OR 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup orange juice
1 handful of baby spinach, optional
1 scoop of protein powder
2 tsp chia seed or ground flaxseed meal
1 fresh mango, chopped (or 1 cup frozen)
ice cubes, optional

Directions

1. Add all ingredients to blender and blend until well combined. Enjoy!

Serves 2 (or one really large)

This is my submission to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend this week!

October 29, 2011 at 10:49 am 9 comments

Crustless Pumpkin Pudding Pie in a Jar

Are you sick of pumpkin yet? I’m not :) I am still thoroughly enjoying my fair share so I am hopeful you haven’t given up on eating winter squash this season!

While I intended to make a more traditional pumpkin pie (with crust) this Fall, when my craving hit I opted for a quicker version. Quick usually means sans the crust…but it is still every bit as delicious! For me, the filling is the star anyway. Warm spices, pumpkin puree and naturally sweetened, this dessert (or breakfast or snack) is healthy AND satisfying.

I am fond of baking in individual jars, as seen from my greek yogurt cheesecake recipe! These puddings would make a great dessert for a party or a crowd so you don’t have to cut and serve portions…which also saves time and a few less dishes to clean :)

If you aren’t a fan of crust on pie, this recipe is for you! However, if you prefer a well baked crust, this recipe would be delicious with crumbled crust or crushed cookies (gingersnap or graham crackers would rock!) for garnish and serving. For some crunch, try adding your favorite granola for texture.

Crustless Pumpkin Pudding Pie in a Jar 

Ingredients

2 cups of cooked pumpkin or winter squash puree (or 1 15oz can)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk OR for a different flavor use 1/4 cup orange juice or carrot juice AND 1/4 cup milk
1 egg (or you might be able to use an egg replacer but I haven’t tried this)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sweetener (I used 3 Tbsp coconut sugar + 1 Tbsp honey) or increase up to 1/3 cup for sweeter*
1/4 cup gluten-free flour of choice (I used oat flour)
2 tsp ground cinnamon (more or less to taste)
1 tsp ground ginger (more or less to taste)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp cloves
pinch of nutmeg and allspice

1 tsp of coconut oil or butter for oiling jars

Optional for serving
coconut butter
whipped cream (dairy or non-dairy)
toasted pepitas and chopped pecans (or almonds or walnuts)
crushed gingersnaps, graham crackers or cookies
granola

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F . Grease four 1/2 pint glass jars (or one large loaf pan) with coconut oil or butter and set aside.
2. In a blender or using a hand mixer, combine all wet ingredients (pumpkin through sweetener) and mix to combine well. Add remaining ingredients (flour through spices) and blend again until well incorporated.
3. Divide batter amongst the four jars (or pour into one large loaf pan) and bake for 37-40 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and starts to crack. Remove from oven, let cool slightly and top with coconut butter and/or whipped cream and toasted nuts and seeds and enjoy OR let cool and refrigerate then garnish and enjoy!

Can be served warm, at room temperature or chilled.

*If you use all liquid sweetener like honey, agave or maple syrup, reduce the milk by 1 Tbsp and bake at 325F.

A yummy bite of pumpkin pudding!

October 27, 2011 at 4:22 pm 21 comments

Caramelized Onion, Butternut and Goat Cheese Pizza with Grain-Free Crust

I love Udi’s gluten free baked goods – from their bread and pizza crust to the muffins and granola. When I discovered that Udi’s opened up a pizza cafe bar, it quickly became my favorite lunch spot…so much so that I’ve probably tried 60% of the items on the menu. Their salads and salads are always fresh, their gluten free sandwiches and burgers are awesome (particularly toasted) but their pizzas are my favorite. The first time I tasted their roasted squash pizza with goat cheese, roasted garlic, arugula and balsamic vinegar, I was hooked. When Fall hit this year, I knew exactly what pizza I ‘d be making – a twist on my Udi’s fav.

The original calls for a white béchamel sauce but I brushed the crust with olive oil instead and I made balsamic caramelized onions in lieu of a separate balsamic reduction to save time. Roasting the squash, caramelizing the onions and making my own crust already required a bit of time…and let’s be honest, I just wanted to eat my pizza :) I must say, the recipe totally hit the spot and I didn’t have to spend $15!

While I was trying new recipes, I also made Ricki’s bean-based grain-free pizza crust instead of a pre-made crust or my easy cooked rice crust. I only made a few small changes – subbing tapioca starch for the potato starch, added a bit of garlic powder to the crust and made four 6-inch individual pizza crusts instead of one large. This crust holds up beautifully and you could actually hold it like a normal pizza! This tends to be a challenge for gluten-free crust without any xanthan or guar gums so I was quite pleased with the results: it’s crisp on the outside, can “handle” heavy toppings and is high in fiber from the beans and coconut flour…plus it’s grain-free and egg-free for those who are sensitive. Ding, ding – winner!

Caramelized Onion, Roasted Butternut and Goat Cheese Pizza

Ingredients

1 large gluten free pizza crust or 1 recipe pre-made Bean-Based, Grain Free Pizza Crust (recipe below)
2 1/2 cups peeled butternut squash, cut into 1/2 cubes (kabocha could be subbed)
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced (I used a medium red but white or yellow will work)
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt and black pepper
2 1/2 to 3 cups arugula, roughly chopped
5 – 6 ounces crumbled goat cheese (if you don’t like goat cheese, feta or your favorite cheese could be used)
1 Tbsp fresh sage, roughly chopped

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400F. In a large baking pan, toss the squash with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil and season with black pepper and sea salt. Bake the squash until slightly browned and tender, about 30 minutes, tossing once halfway through to ensure even cooking. Remove from oven and set aside.
2. While the squash is baking, in a large skillet, add sliced onions and 1 tbsp of olive oil over a medium heat. Saute until onions begin to color, stirring frequently.  Add the balsamic vinegar and a dash of salt and stir or toss to combine.  Cover, reduce the heat to low-medium, and let cook for about 25 minutes, or until the onions have cooked down and caramelized. Set aside.
3. Once all of your toppings are ready and crust is pre-baked and warm (per instructions for pre-made or see below for the recipe I used), remove crust from the oven. Brush remaining olive oil over the crust and top with cooked squash, onion, chopped arugula, crumbled goat cheese and sage.
4. Bake until the crust is crispy, lightly browned and toppings are heated through and cheese starts to brown slightly on top, about 15-18 minutes.

*Feel free to use your favorite crust or a pre-made and store bought if your prefer, just note the oven temperatures for the crust and the baking times.

Bean-Based, Grain Free Pizza Crust (Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free) (lightly adapted from Ricki at Diet, Dessert and Dogs)

Ingredients

1 can (19 oz or 540 ml) white kidney or navy beans, rinsed well and drained (about 2 cups/480 ml)
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic, plus about 1/2 Tbsp (15 ml) extra
1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened plain soymilk or almond milk
5 drops plain stevia liquid
4 tsp (1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp or 20 ml) apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp (45 g or 1.6 oz) coconut flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) whole chia seeds, ground to a meal in a coffee grinder (about 1/4 cup or 60 ml of the meal)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) Tapioca starch (or potato starch)
1/4 cup (60 ml) buckwheat flour
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking soda
3/4 tsp (7.5 ml) baking powder
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
1/2 to 1 tsp garlic powder, optional
1 tsp (5 ml) dried basil

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line a large pizza pan OR four 6-inch baking pans with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, process the beans until you have a chunky paste. Add the remaining ingredients (except for extra 1/2 Tbsp oil), soymilk, stevia, vinegar, coconut flour, chia meal, potato starch, buckwheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, garlic and basil and process again until the mixture comes together in a ball. Do not overprocess!
3. Take the ball of dough and, using your hands, pull of chunks the size of baseballs and distribute them evenly over the pizza pan OR divide into four balls of dough, then divide again into smaller balls for four individual crusts. Use the final 1/2 Tbsp of oil to grease your palms and fingertips; then press the dough evenly in the pan until all the chunks come together in a single crust. Keep greasing your hands as necessary to avoid sticking. If desired, make a slight rim all around the edge of the dough.
4. Bake in preheated oven 30-35 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned on the edges and bottom. Top with desired toppings, then return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes for individual pizzas or 25-30 minutes for one large crust, or until until heated throughout and toppings are cooked. Slice and enjoy!

Makes 1 large pizza of 4-6 servings OR 4 6-inch individual crusts. May be frozen; wrap slices individually in plastic and freeze until solid, then store in a Ziploc bag

October 26, 2011 at 3:43 pm 27 comments

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