Tag Archives: healthy

Lunch bag: Healthy No-Bake Peanut Butter Balls

Dairy-free option | Soy-free | Gluten-free option | Clean-eating option

peanut butter balls

My 4-year-old’s preschool asks parents to pack healthy snacks that feature at least 2 food groups. This being my first year packing anything resembling a school lunch, of course I’m going over the top looking for fun, healthy snack ideas she’ll eat. This has been my first great victory: they’re easy, she loved helping me make them, they travel well, they’re not messy, & even My Husband The Suspicious Of Anything Labeled “Healthy” gave them his stamp of approval.

UPDATE: This is my new go-to to take to new moms. The oats and flax are great for breastmilk supply, and the quick energy is awesome for those early weeks of nursing All. The. Time.

  • 2 cups quick oats (use certified gluten-free if needed)
  • 1 cup Rice Krispies*
  • 1 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips**
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (we use Natural Jif or Skippy)*
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing gently to not crush the cereal, until well coated.
  2. Use a tablespoon or soup spoon to scoop out tablespoon-sized portions & roll them into balls between your hands. Place them on a parchment- or waxed-paper-lined cookie sheet.
  3. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. You can serve them now, or place them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer to portion out in your kids’ lunches. They’ll keep a week in the fridge or a few months in the freezer.

* If you want to keep it 100% clean, use a less-processed brown rice cereal, or sub 2/3 cup more of quick oats, and use fresh-ground peanut butter (though that will make it much harder to mix) or another brand of jarred peanut butter that doesn’t contain refined sugar.

** For dairy- and soy-free, use Enjoy Life brand chips.

Original recipe here.

Linked up at Mommy Solutions

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Double-chocolate avocado whole-wheat muffins.

That’s quite a mouthful of a title, isn’t it? Let’s give them a tastier (i.e. not healthy-sounding) nickname: Happy Chocolate Muffins. Or something.

muffinsWho else has a picky eater in their house? My 15-month-old is ours. She won’t drink milk, so we’re still nursing (even at night – woo-hoo!), & though she’s consistently at around the 90th percentile for height, over the past 6 months we’ve seen her weight drop from 50th… to 30th… to 14th. One month we learned she lost a pound. Yikes! So under doctor’s orders I’ve been trying to find creative ways to incorporate the healthy fats she’s not getting from whole milk or the many foods she won’t eat into foods she will eat. I plan to post some of the tips & tricks I’ve been learning in the near future, but in the meantime, here’s my latest discovery:

Using avocado instead of butter or oil in baked goods.

Huge revelation!

Avocados are amazing. According to WebMD, “Avocados are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C,K, folate, and B6. Half an avocado has 160 calories, 15 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and only 2 grams saturated fat. One globe contains more than one-third daily value of vitamin C, and more than half the day’s requirements of vitamin K.”

So after one particularly scary weight check at the doctor’s office, I bought an avocado on sale & then asked my friends on Facebook for ways to sneak it into a picky toddler’s diet. I got tons of great ideas! Smoothies, mashed with bananas (that worked, like, once), & baked into stuff. One friend sent me the recipe below.

On the first try, these were tasty… if a little dense. The original recipe called for using all whole-wheat flour. The girls didn’t seem to mind, but, my husband said it tasted like a “chocolate bran muffin.” I remade them last night with half whole-wheat, half all-purpose, & they were an even bigger hit! If you’re concerned that your kids (or your husband!) will suspect & thus not eat the “healthy” muffins, start with the proportions below; then, if you want to make it healthier, gradually increase the proportion of whole-wheat. And don’t say anything about the avocado; you can’t taste it, & it’ll just give them a reason to turn up their noses at these. There’s no point if they won’t eat them, right? I also added flaxseed for more healthy fats, omega-3s, lignans, & fiber.

The original recipe was for mini-muffins, but since I don’t have a mini-muffin tin (what?!), mine are regular-sized. Mini-muffins are a perfect size to put in your little one’s lunchbox when school starts next month.

  • 2 Tbsp. flaxseed meal (pour into 1-cup measuring cup before adding the flour & then fill the rest with the flour)
  • 1 1/3 cup (minus 2 Tbsp.) all-purpose flour*
  • 1 1/3 cup whole-wheat flour*
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 large, ripe Hass avocado
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (if making mini-muffins, use mini chocolate chips)

* The original recipe calls for all whole-wheat flour, but my family is more likely to eat them this way.

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Spray wells of muffin tin generously with cooking spray. (I tried using papers, but they stuck like crazy. So don’t be like me.)
  2. Sift together dry ingredients.
  3. Beat the avocado & sugar together around 3 minutes, or until smooth. Isn’t that beautiful?avocado
  4. Beat in liquid ingredients. Slowly add dry ingredients, stirring until incorporated.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Spoon into wells of muffin tin. Bake for 18 minutes for regular muffins, or 15 minutes for mini-muffins. Makes 2 dozen regular muffins or 4 dozen mini-muffins.

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Vegan for carnivores: Easy creamy tomato basil pasta.

Dairy-free | Soy-free | Clean eating | Vegan | Gluten-free option

My good friend posted the link to this recipe months ago & raved about its tastiness. I was intrigued, so I pinned it, but I never mustered the courage to actually make it.

Because it’s vegan.

creamy tomato basil pasta

Vegan is a dirty word in our house of meat-eaters. But it looks just so tasty, right?

So one day I took the plunge. I had a backup plan in place–a jar of pasta sauce hiding at the back of the pantry–that I considered employing even as the mixture was simmering. How could cashews possibly make a sauce creamy?

But it worked. Oh boy, did it work. Rich, tomato-basil-garlic heaven. & it was easy!!! Now I understand why my friend raved about it. Fellow carnivores (or at least omnivores), please don’t make the mistake I did & wait forever: make this immediately.

Note: while the original recipe says this makes enough for 2 servings of pasta, I’ve coated a whole pound of pasta in it & it’s worked great. I also add a little more tomato flavor.

  • 2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (I use 2), minced
  • up to 1 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, or to taste, finely chopped (if you, like me, don’t buy fresh herbs often, the small plastic package of basil that hangs out in the refrigerated part of the produce section is just enough for this recipe)
  • up to 1 lb. of pasta of your choice (we use whole-wheat)
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes & toss them, seeds & all into your blender. Add the cashews, water, & tomato paste, & puree until smooth.
  2. Add the pasta to the boiling water & cook as directed. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium-low. Add the garlic & saute a couple minutes, taking care not to burn it. Add the contents of the blender. Bring it to a simmer; add the salt.
  3. Let it simmer 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Remove sauce from heat; stir in pepper & basil.
  5. When pasta is done cooking, reserve about 1/3 cup pasta water, drain, & return to pot. Slowly add the sauce until it looks coated enough for your taste, adding pasta water if needed. Stir & serve immediately.
  6. Leftovers refrigerate & reheat well!

Aside from the tastiness, healthiness, & easiness of this recipe, The Toddler Who Won’t Eat Anything ATE THIS!!!

yum!

WIN!


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One-ingredient ice cream.

I’ve missed sharing ideas with people! I’ve decided to set a goal of posting at least once a week. Now that The Mini-Munchkin is about the same age that The Munchkin was when I started this, I feel like I can take the time to set up more good photos & write some more. Though the girls are so big now, I don’t think I could call either of them Munchkin anymore. I’m currently accepting nominations for new aliases for my 4- & 1-year-olds.

But so that I don’t bite off more than I can chew, let’s start with something easy, shall we?

banana swirl

This ice cream has one ingredient: bananas.

It’s easy to make. It’s fat-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, & delicious.

It’s been making the Pinterest rounds, & even Daniel Tiger on PBS is getting into the act; my 4-year-old informed me that this comes from one of his shows & is called “Banana Swirl.”

Instructions:

Just take about 1 ripe (but not banana-bread ripe; I made that mistake this first time. Think still yellow.) banana per person, cut them into thirds or quarters, & freeze. I just stuck mine in a Ziploc baggie. After a couple of hours, remove them from the freezer, stick them in your blender or food processor, & pulverize. The “snow” setting on my Breville worked like a dream. After a couple of minutes, you should see smooth, soft-serve-looking “banana swirl.” That’s it!

Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free | Gluten-free | Vegan

Why does this happen? Bananas have high pectin levels. Pectin is the gelling agent that you add when you make jam. It acts as a stabilizer to create that creamy texture. Mangoes apparently also have high pectin levels & would likely produce the same effect if frozen & blended.

This is a great treat for summertime. We made ours to refuel after gymnastics, but I’m thinking one morning I might top it with fruit & granola & serve “ice cream” for breakfast, just to shake things up a bit! What do you think of that?

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5-fruit* muffins for your Munchkin’s lunchbox.

*or 4 fruits & a gourd, depending on how you choose to classify pumpkin.

School’s started for most everyone by now, & I know lots of moms are looking for tasty but healthy options for their kids’ lunchboxes. These muffins fit the bill: they contain five different fruits (as long as you consider pumpkins fruits), as well as almonds & whole-wheat flour. They pack a quick & hearty nutritional punch so your kids can get back onto the playground. They’re so hearty that The Munchkin can only finish half of one, so you may want to consider packing just a half muffin, or else making them in a mini-muffin tin & adjusting the baking time.

They’re also great for new moms because of their heartiness & ease of one-handed consumption. They were brought to me after The Mini-Munchkin made her appearance & I begged for the recipe, so that’s why you’ve got it here!

The recipe says it makes a dozen muffins plus 2 loaves; when I made a half recipe, it yielded not quite 18 muffins. You can choose how & if you want to divvy up the batter. As an added bonus, if you make a half recipe, you’ll have plenty of pumpkin left over in a standard can to make these delicious pumpkin chocolate-chip squares. Just saying.

  • 3 to 4 extra-ripe bananas, peeled & mashed (2 cups)
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Generously grease muffin tin &/or loaf pan(s). Combine bananas, pumpkin, eggs, & sugar in mixer bowl. Beat in applesauce.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Stir into banana mixture until just combined.
  3. Fold in dates, raisins, & almonds.
  4. Spoon 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin cup; pour remaining batter into loaf pans, if applicable.
  5. Bake muffins for 20 minutes or loaves for 60 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then cool completely on wire rack.

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Resolution-friendly recipes!

For the many of us who have resolved to treat our bodies a little better this year, here are some healthy recipes from the past year. (I can’t believe this blog is already almost a year old!)

More new recipes to come, promise!

I’m making these Chewy, Chunky (& Lowfat!) Oatmeal Bars for us to snack on as we walk around Disney World this weekend. They’re so hearty & delicious (we all love them), it’s hard to believe they’re so low in fat!

Start the day off right with yummy Oatmeal Raisin Pancakes. You just might want to skip the butter syrup.

Now, a couple vegetarian dinners: Pasta with Arugula & Tomatoes

…& Skinny Veggie Ziti.

If your Munchkins are joining you in your resolution, help them get some more veggies with some Veggie Latkes. (I can’t believe how young The Munchkin looks in this picture!)

Then finish it off right with the almost entirely nonfat Skinny Banana Bread for dessert!

Best of luck keeping your resolutions — health & otherwise — this year!

works for me wednesday at we are that family

36th Avenue

Cast Party Wednesday

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