chocolate truffles.

You guys sure know your coconut!!!!

Coconut pancakes.

Coconut macaroons.

Coconut bread.

Coconut rice.

I’m going to be cooking with a lot of coconut this month. ūüėČ

Many people wonder if coconut is okay to eat or not, so here’s my gist of it all…

More and more studies are showing that not all saturated fats are created equal, and when it comes to coconut, the fats appear to be on the good side.

Although the studies are still in¬†their infancy stages, and although I would still¬†recommend moderation when it comes to eating coconut, coconut is made up mostly of what’s called “medium chain fatty acids.” ¬†That is, the fat is small enough that it can be absorbed directly into our body and it can be used as energy, without the need to be further broken down or carried through the lymphatic system in our bodies.

The theory, then, is that coconut is good for us in moderation, just like all fats. ¬†Some studies have even shown a rise in women’s good cholesterol when they used coconut oil over sunflower oil.

That’s good news for us coconut lovers. ūüėČ

When I asked what I should do with the big bag of coconut that’s fallen into my lap, someone mentioned that I should make coconut macaroons.

And.  Well.

That’s how this recipe started out.

But then the melted chocolate didn’t really melt all the way, and after my initial gruff reaction, this kind of left me excited.

Because there were big chunks of chocolate and I thought it might be good to just put the coconut on the outside as a garnish and leave the chocolaty chunks well enough alone.

This left me with two chocolate bites for after dinner tonight…

…a couple more frozen ones for tomorrow night…

…and lots (lots, lots, lots!!) of coconut left to play with¬†for next week’s breakfasts and dinners and everything else in between.

Sigh. ¬†Here’s to coconut and all its possibilities.¬†

Chocolate Truffles–idea from Cinch Diet Plan by Cynthia Sass, MPH, MA, RD, CSSD

These taste even better chilled/frozen!

I used salted almond butter, but if you have an unsalted variety, just add a pinch of sea salt if desired. ¬†These are so rich that one or two will satisfy. ¬†Save the leftovers for the next night (provided you manage to keep other family members away!) ūüėČ

  • 1/4 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 3 tsp almond butter
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon + pinch of ginger if desired
  • shredded, unsweetened coconut
  1. Rinse a glass bowl with water and place on table without wiping dry.  Add chocolate chips and place in microwave for 15 seconds.  Stir and return for another 5-10 seconds if needed.
  2. Add oil, almond butter and spices, stirring well until smooth and it begins to form a ball.  Dough will be very soft!
  3. Scoop onto waxed paper, sprinkle with coconut and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.  Store on waxed paper in sealed container, in fridge or freezer.  Enjoy!

QUESTION: When it comes to chocolate, are you more attracted to dark and rich or milky and sweet?  I tend to mostly go for the dark, but occasionally I like a bit of something milky!

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happy snacking.

This is Part 26 of the “31 Days of Healthy Living” series.

Research tells us that snacking in between meals can help to control our appetites (and our BMI.)

Personal experience tells me that snacking in between meals is the only way to avoid the grumps before dinner.

I need my snacks (woohoo!…lattes count!!)

But what makes a healthy snack?  And in what amount?

Well, I pretty much hate “food rules.” ¬†But a good rule of thumb is that a snack should be about half the size of your typical meal. ¬†This is just a general assumption, depending on how hungry you are, what you’re in the mood for, and what kind of meals you regularly eat.

And, of course, meals should (usually) decrease a bit in size when we start including a daily snack.

How often?

I like to eat a little something every 3-4 hours. ¬† Some people feel fine not eating for 4-5. ¬†Try to find your “comfort zone.” ¬†It’s important for your mind and your health not to feel ravenous by dinner time (or later in the day.)

I also like to make sure that it has a good dose of fiber and protein to keep me feeling satisfied. ¬†There’s a reason we can’t “just take one” when it comes to potato chips!

~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you’re not a big snack person but find that you’re starving by the time that lunch or dinner rolls around, don’t worry! ¬†There are snacks for all tastebuds.

The Sweeter Side of Snacking

  • One (or half) banana with a half tablespoon peanut butter and one to two tablespoons of your favorite granola.

  • A little low fat plain yogurt with half a crumbled whole wheat pumpkin muffin and a teaspoon of almond butter.

  • cheerios mixed with craisins (or raisins,) almonds and a couple of dark chocolate chips

  • Small soy (or low fat) latte with one pump of your favorite flavor.

  • Low fat, plain Greek yogurt with fresh berries.

Salty Snacks

  • Hummus and whole grain tortilla chips (or sweet potato chips.)

If you find that you’re always on the go, there are plenty of options there too…

Almonds, pistachios, cashews, etc. are totally transportable.

As are fruits and string cheese and peanut butter packets.

And whole grain, high fiber muffins.

Along with staying well hydrated, a little (healthy) snacking can do wonders for keeping you energized throughout the day.

And then you can swear goodbye for good to those ravenous pre-dinner munchies and pesky hunger-related headaches.

Happy snacking!

QUESTION: Do you eat daily snacks?  What are some of your favorite?

In The Kitchen (with a garbanzo bean.)

This is Part XI of the “31 Days of Healthy Living” series.

I became obsessed with the garbanzo bean (aka, the chickpea) after my very first lick of roasted red pepper hummus.

I didn’t actually know what a garbanzo bean¬†was at the time. ¬†But I did know that I loved the creamy, salty dip that tasted good on everything.

There’s a lot you can do with the little yellow bean, which is why there’s ¬†always a can of it kickin’ around in my pantry.

You could easily turn the garbanzo bean into a meal with a few simple ingredients.

Or.

You could turn it into one (or two…or three…) very tasty snacks. ¬†Which is exactly what I’ve been doing these past few days.

On the nutrition front, garbanzo beans are sky high in protein and fiber, boasting about 6 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein per 1/2 cup portion.

They’re also high in folate (proven to be an important part of the pregnant women’s diet in preventing certain birth defects,) copper and manganese. ¬†There are all kinds of other micronutrients floating around in that little bean too.

Don’t underestimate its tiny size.

Thanks to that high protein/fiber combo, these guys make an ideal, healthy snack.

From peanut butter hummus…

To spicy chickpea lettuce wraps…

To roasted garbanzo crunchies.

(Some people even turn them into brownies!)

They’re simple.

They’re¬†irresistible.

They make a wonderfully nutritious snack.

RECIPES

Peanut Butter Hummus: In a food processor, combine 1-15OZ can garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained,) 1/3 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt, and a liberal amount of garlic powder.  Combine until smooth and creamy and serve with veggie sticks or crackers.  Or use as a sandwich spread.

Spicy Chickpea Lettuce Wraps: Stuff about 4-5 large bibb lettuce leaves with 1/2 cup garbanzo beans and a couple spoonfuls of fresh salsa.  Drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of parmesan cheese if desired.  Roll up and snack away!

Roasted Garbanzo Crunchies: Combine 1-15OZ can garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained) with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and a liberal amount of garlic powder.  Sprinkle with a few dashes of cayenne and add a dash of salt to taste.  Roast on a baking pan in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 25-35 minutes.  Shake the pan occasionally to prevent sticking or scorching and check during the last few minutes of cooking time to prevent burning.  Enjoy hot from the oven!

QUESTION: What is your favorite type of bean/legume and what is your favorite way to eat it? ¬†I love baked beans with a hunk of bread for dipping and could honestly eat it every single day. ūüėÄ

your quiet moment in December.

If you’re feeling kinda busy.

Or.  If.

You can’t remember the last time you just, you know,¬†stopped.

Or.  If.

You could use some time alone (just you.)

Then.

Might I suggest?

That you make yourself a cup of tea.  And then.

Bake a batch of muffins.

And then just sit.

Think.

Listen.

Enjoy your quiet moment in December.

Cranberry Orange Muffins–modified from a recipe in Cooking Light

I reduced the sugar and subbed in whole wheat flour for this recipe with stellar results.  These muffins taste best hot from the oven, but can be frozen and reheated for later use as well.  Enjoy with your favorite cup of tea or a hot cup of coffee.

  • 2 cups¬†whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons¬†baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon¬†salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon¬†baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons¬†grated orange rind
  • 3/4 cup¬†orange juice
  • 1/4 cup¬†canola oil
  • 1¬†large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups¬†coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup¬†chopped walnuts, toasted
  • Cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 400¬į.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Set aside 1 tablespoon sugar. Combine flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture.
  3. Combine rind, juice, oil, and egg in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in cranberries and walnuts. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with reserved sugar. Bake at 400¬į for 15-17 minutes or until the muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Run a knife or spatula around outer edge of each muffin cup. Carefully remove each muffin; place on a wire rack. ¬†Enjoy!

Special Edition: “Breakfast Week”

‚ÄúJoin me as I eat my way through a week of new breakfasts. ¬†Thanksgiving marks the finale, which means I have one full week to try a new breakfast each and every morning. ¬†It could be delicious (it could be outrageous!) ¬†But the whole idea is to just have fun.‚ÄĚ

Granola makes me happy.

My cupboard always has at least 1 mason jar filled with the chewy bits of oats and nuts and dried fruit.  When it gets below half a mason jar, I suddenly develop separation anxiety and quickly make another batch.

It’s a good thing granola is easy to throw together.

Aside from eating this granola by the handful (and spoonfuls and bowlfuls!) I also like to use it as part of my breakfast.

This morning, it became a granola parfait.  Super simple to make, even simpler to eat.

If you make the granola ahead of time, this breakfast can become part of you busy week’s breakfast¬†repertoire. ¬†Delicious.

Your Basic Granola

I call this my basic granola for one reason: you can tweak it any which way you want, thereby making a completely different recipe out of it. ¬†Add some chopped dried mango and ginger. ¬†Add chocolate chips (after it’s cooled) and pistachios. ¬†Try it with molasses or honey or agave for the sweetener. ¬†Consider this your basic granola…just the starting point for many new and wonderful possibilities.

  • 2 cups regular oats
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup crushed flax seed
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. Combine oats, nuts, coconut, flax, cinnamon, sea salt, and vanilla in a large bowl.
  3. Combine maple syrup and olive oil. ¬†Add to dry mixture and stir well until combined. ¬†Spread evenly on a sprayed cookie sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, flipping and stirring every 10 minutes. ¬†Granola is ready once it’s browned lightly (beware of overcooking!) ¬†Add cranberries after granola is cooked.
  4. Cool and store in containers.  Last 1-2 weeks.

QUESTION: Do you have a favorite brand of granola?  Favorite recipe?

a drop of pumpkin.

Who put this hill here?

Why do my feet hurt?

“Define yourself”…huff, puff…”you can do it”…huff, puff…”just keep moving”…

With the internship and the RD exam behind me, I’ve just recently started increasing my running mileage beyond my typical 3 miles. ¬†Mostly because these past few weeks of routinely running three miles, three times a week has felt a bit like pulling candy from my teeth (or pulling chewing gum from a lump of pennies, which is another story altogether…I’m sure you don’t care to hear about¬†that¬†one!)

Every once in a while this happens.  I fall into the mold of not really enjoying running.  Border line despising it.

(*gasp!*)

But despite being bored to tears, I kept plodding on, because I knew that one day I would wake up and I would feel like running. ¬†As in really running. ¬†And I didn’t want to be starting back at ground zero when this happened. ¬†Three miles was my base and I planned on keeping it that way. ¬†Sometimes its important to back off. ¬†In this case, I felt it was important to push through.

And then, it finally happened. ¬†Two days ago, I wanted to run 5 miles. ¬†And so I did. ¬†Today I ran another 5. ¬†And I’m beginning to really have an itch for those really long runs. ¬†Soon.

Very soon.  

In the meantime, my appetite is skyrocketing due to this slight increase in exercise.  And so, this afternoon, I decided to make a batch of pumpkin drops.

Admittedly, pumpkin drops are not much to look at. ¬†They’re this funny combination of biscuits and scones and muffins. ¬†Unfortunately for the drops, however, they didn’t obtain any of the muffins’, scones’ or biscuits’ good looks.

But once you get passed all that, you’ll undoubtedly fall in love.

In love with its crusty exterior, its soft, pillowy interior.  Its subtle, soft flavors.  Its spice for life and those little bits of chewy raisins, intermingled with cinnamon, sugar and clove.  Love.

They’re spicy and warm and deliciously comfortable in their own skin.

Grab two with a glass of milk and voila!  You have breakfast.  Or take one with a cup of tea for a light afternoon snack, after a workout, or before a workout.

I think you’ll love them no matter how you decide to eat ’em.

Hearty Pumpkin Spice Drops
  • 1 1/4¬†cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4¬†cups old fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1¬†tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4¬†teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp clove
  • 1/3¬†cup¬†dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, etc.)
  • 1/4¬†cup butter, chopped
  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (such as Libby’s)
  • 2¬†tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together dry ingredients (flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices.)
  3. Cut in butter and combine using two knives, until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
  4. Add dried fruit to dry mixture if desired.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients (milk, pumpkin, vanilla).
  6. Gradually add wet mixture to the flour mixture and combine until a soft and sticky dough is formed.
  7. Coat baking pan with cooking spray.  With two spoons, drop pumpkin mixture into 8-12, rounded drops.  In a small separate bowl, combine 1 tsp sugar with 1 tsp cinnamon.  Sprinkle on top of drops.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until drops are golden-brown on top and beginning to brown underneath. ¬†Cool on a wire rack or serve immediately. ¬†Best eaten warm…ENJOY!
    QUESTION: What is your go-to way to stay physically active when life gets busy? ¬†I like to fit physical activity into my usual, daily habits. ¬†Running up and down the stairs, parking far away from the grocery store, etc., when I can’t seem to fit exercise in otherwise. ¬†But nothing beats the feeling I get from a really good run. ūüėÄ

red, white and blue (in a bowl)

It’s strange. ¬†I haven’t had oatmeal within (at least!) the past week or so. ¬†I have, however, been very into cereal these past couple of days.

Very.

I’ve also been very into the whole red, white, and blue theme!!

Cereal used to feel like air food to me.  One bite and it was gone.

Now I bulk it up with all kinds of goodies, just as I bulk up my salads!

  • 1.5 cups Kashi Go Lean
  • 1/2 banana
  • frozen blueberries
  • frozen raspberries
  • almonds
  • milk

So many textures, so much flavor!

Let the day begin!

HAPPY 4th of JULY! ¬†Have fun, Be safe! ūüėÄ

And thank you to all the men and women who continue to make our country free.

QUESTION: What have you been munching on for breakfast lately?