We are our habits. I like to create habits that are sustainable and if it a habit is being created around food – make it delicious! Making healthier choices doesn’t mean deprivation or eating things that you don’t like. Let’s face it: Nobody has time for that.
I love Reese’s peanut butter cups. I could eat my bodyweight in them and that’s a lot of peanut butter cups. Unless I want to weigh 300 lbs., I cannot make a habit of eating candy bars. In fact, I’ve not had a bonafide candy bar for many years. Have you read the labels on those things? Always read the nutrition labels on anything you pick up and are considering eating. It can be eye opening (& sometimes scary).
Protein is satiating and so is healthy fat. If I have a snack, I always aim to have protein. If you are satisfied, if you are not hungry, then you put yourself in a better position to not overeat throughout the day. Protein bars that you can purchase can be problematic. Often they have more sugar than protein; they may have sugar alcohols which can cause intestinal distress; they have ingredients that make you go “huh?”; they can have enough calories for a meal, not a snack; and they can be expensive. I make my own. I’ve had many kitchen experiments over the years in my quest for protein snacks. Two of my “go tos” are these peanut butter protein balls (or you can make them into bars) and Protein Chip Cookies.
Grab a bowl, a big spoon and whip up a batch. No baking required! You can use peanut butter or any nut or seed butter that you like. Drizzle with your favorite dark chocolate.
1 cup peanut butter
2 scoops vanilla or peanut butter protein powder
2 tablespoons applesauce
Dark chocolate squares or chips
Mix ingredients in a large bowl, by hand, until well blended. Batter will be the consistency of very thick cookie dough. Form balls with a cookie scoop or roll by hand. Place on a large plate and put in the freezer for 15-30 minutes. Melt your dark chocolate. Remove your protein balls from the freezer and drizzle the top of each with chocolate (or you can dip them!) The chocolate will harden pretty quickly. Refrigerate in any container you’d like to use. ENJOY!
Chocolate chip cookies. Who doesn’t love them? I certainly do, but let’s face it – they are delicious, but don’t provide us with much nutrition. How about a low sugar, protein chocolate chip cookie? Now we are talking!
Grab a bowl, a sturdy spoon and let’s make some cookies! I don’t add sugar when I’m baking these cookies because I’ve become accustomed to less sweet. For me, the Jif peanut butter and the dark chocolate chips add enough sweetness). * If you prefer to have the cookies a bit sweeter, add the optional 1/4 cup brown sugar. If you are using natural peanut butter without any added sugar, you may need to add the sugar to this recipe. I use oat flour and I grind my own in my mini blender or food processor. I use Ghirardelli or Toll House dark chocolate morsels. Dark chocolate has less sugar and a deeper chocolate taste because they have more cacao. I like to use a digital scale to weigh out higher calorie ingredients such as peanut butter. The digital scale I use is a basic EatSmart scale. ** I like to add collagen peptides for an added boost of protein and collagen for my joints and skin. By adding the collagen peptides, your cookies will have a little chewiness to them.
Preheat oven to 375. On a parchment lined cookie pan or a silicone mat, scoop out 13 cookie balls. I use a Pampered Chef cookie dough scoop. This recipe will make exactly 13 “normal size” cookies. Gently press down the dough ball with your fingers. Bake 8 – 12 minutes. Ovens vary. Don’t overbake. Your choices of ingredients/brands will change the macros, but each cookie will generally have 200 calories, 9 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 12 grams of carbohydrate and 12 grams of fat. The macros of these cookies are a nice balance – I typically will eat one with some of my homemade chocolate milk for breakfast and it fuels me through a morning of exercise and other activity. I make my own chocolate milk with unsweetened cocoa powder and very little added sugar – just enough to take the edge off the cocoa powder.. Commercially made chocolate milk is very sugary sweet.
Pro tip: You can calculate the macros of any recipe by using a recipe builder in Apps such as LoseIt! or MyFitnessPal.
Headed out the door in the morning for a walk, a strength training session, work or maybe you are savoring a cup of coffee and a chapter in a good book to start your day? A breakfast that has some protein, fiber rich carbohydrate and healthy fat = WIN. A slice of quick bread that is healthier and delicious can be an excellent “go to”. I approach any quick bread asking myself how I can make it healthier without jeopardizing taste or texture? Two of my typical tweaks are: Plain Greek yogurt instead of oil and I decrease the sugar by up to 50%.
This is my current favorite. I tried it with all oat flour instead of half-half and it didn’t end well. I do recommend using 1 cup of flour. I do think you could use white whole wheat or whole wheat instead of all-purpose. I didn’t try that because I didn’t have any on hand, but I think it would be A-OK. Be cautious about adding any other moist ingredients (or adding too much Greek yogurt) – you could end up with a mushy texture that just won’t bake. How do I know that? Let’s just say that the opossums and raccoons that live in the woods near my house are used to finding some tasty things in my compost pile. Since it is made with Greek Yogurt, I slice it and keep it in the refrigerator until I’m ready to eat it. Here you go!
1 cup old fashioned oats (ground into flour)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 /2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar (not packed)
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 cups shredded apples (2 large) plus a few extra chopped apple chunks for texture
1/4 cup shredded carrots (optional)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Stir all ingredients except apples and walnuts together until well blended. Stir in apples and walnuts at the end. Pour batter in to a loaf pan that has been lined with parchment paper and lightly sprayed with cooking spray. You can sprinkle some finely ground walnuts on the top of the loaf before baking to make it extra “pretty”. Bake at 350 F for 60 – 70 minutes until done. Ovens vary, so I’d start with 60 minutes then check on the status and go from there. Remove from the pan onto a cooling rack. Slice into 10 generous slices or 8 very generous slices. Using the ingredients stated above and 10 slices, each slice will be about 200 calories with 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.
Note: You can use any recipe builder to calculate calories and macros of any recipe. MyFitnessPal and Loseit! are examples of free nutritional tracking apps that have recipe building capabilities.
I few years ago I was hungry for a dessert and wanted something like cheesecake or ice cream. I went to my fridge to see what I had and I came up with what has become a very simple and versatile recipe that I call Protein Mousse. 3 primary ingredients with optional ingredients such as berries, chocolate. crushed nuts or graham crackers. You will need a food processor or a heavy duty blender. I use my food processor since it’s easier to get the mousse out of without wasting any of the good stuff and it is much easier to clean.
Place all the ingredients in a food processor or powerful blender and process until smooth. You only use the pudding or gelatin powder – you don’t prepare it as pudding or gelatin. The consistency will be that of a cheesecake batter. The mousse will firm up more once it is refrigerated. This recipe makes 5 generous servings. If you use 2% cottage cheese, fat-free Greek Yogurt and sugar free pudding mix: 180 calories per serving, 25 grams of protein.
VERSATILE. Use any flavor of pudding powder that you want. I like cheesecake, banana cream and coconut cream the best. I’m also a fan of lime gelatin powder.
Before serving / eating: Spoon individual servings of mousse into a bowl or tall glass cup if you want to make it pretty. You can layer the mousse with fresh berries, slices of bananas, sprinkle nuts, coconut, chocolate, etc. on top. For example: If you’ve made your mousse with banana cream pudding powder, layer the mouse with sliced bananas and crush a graham cracker or vanilla wafers on top for a banana pudding dessert. If using a gelatin powder such as lime or orange: Adding pineapple or mandarin orange slices to your serving of mousse immediately before eating = DELISH.
To make a frozen dessert similar to soft ice cream: Before serving, stir in frozen berries of your choice and place back into the freezer for a couple of minutes. Stir again. ENJOY! You can also add chocolate or any other ingredients to the protein mousse, freeze it for a couple of minutes at a time, stir, repeat until you get the consistency you want. DO NOT stir up an entire batch and freeze it solid. Things won’t end well.
Do NOT put any optional toppings into the mousse and store it in the fridge. You want your mousse to stay nice and firm. Add your optional ingredients right before serving.
Apples. They are awesome aren’t they? Fiber. Vitamin C. Polyphenols. They are delicious raw all by themselves or with a slice of cheese or a smear of peanut butter. Sometimes, I want my apples to be warm and “dessert-y”. When I do, I grab a skillet, a knife and some cinnamon and get to work. It only takes a few minutes and you have some un-fried “fried” apples ready to eat straight from a bowl with your fork.
Here is what you do. This is more of a process than a recipe, so make it your own. The amount of water, spices, and optional sugar depends on how many apples you slice and throw into your skillet.
Slice your apples. You can peel them or leave the peel on. Add enough water to the skillet to cover the bottom and the apples are just barely sitting in some water. You need the water, but not too much! The apples will release their own juice/water as they cook. Turn the heat to medium and start cooking your apples, stirring them every so often as they are cooking. Add about a Tablespoon of butter. Stir, and continue cooking until they apples are to your desired level of tenderness. Add cinnamon to your taste. I like to add a little nutmeg and ground clove. If you want your apples to be a little bit sweet, this is when you can add a small amount of sugar or honey. Stir it all up. That’s it! Takes only a few minutes. ENJOY!
Quick breads can be a delicious part of your healthy lifestyle way of eating. Traditional recipes typically include a cup of oil and a cup or more of sugar. GEEZ! That’s a lot of oil and sugar. What is a person to do? Make a few tweaks that don’t jeopardize the taste or texture. An easy tweak that you can make is to substitute plain Greek Yogurt instead of the oil in any quick bread recipe. The Greek yogurt provides needed moisture to the recipe plus you get some extra protein. I have found that using Greek yogurt doesn’t change the texture of the quick bread. Another tweak is to half the amount of sugar called for in the recipe. BOOM. That’s it. The recipe I’m going to share with you originally called for 1 cup of sugar, I use 1/3 cup; it called for 1 1/2 sticks of butter, I use 1 TB and 1 small container of Greek yogurt.
10 SLICES. 190 calories per slice. 8 grams protein.
2 cups all-purpose flour **
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 overripe bananas
1/3 cup sugar
1 TB melted butter
Small container (5 oz) Plain or Vanilla Greek Yogurt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
** Without jeopardizing texture, can substitute 1/4 cup of the flour for 1/4 cup vanilla or unflavored protein powder
Place bananas and sugar in a large mixing bowl; mash the bananas and stir well with the sugar. Let sit for a few minutes then stir again. Mix in the melted butter and Greek yogurt then beat in the eggs. Add the flour, baking soda, salt and vanilla. Mix well. Pour into a well greased loaf pan. Optional: sprinkle with crushed walnuts or pecans. Bake at 350 F for 60-ish minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Ovens vary, you may need to bake your bread a few minutes longer. Be careful not to overbake. Let cool in the pan for a couple of minutes then remove the bread from the pan to a cooling rack. Once the bread has cooled, slice it into 10 pieces.