Meatless Monday: Peanut Butter Trail Mix Bars

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Before my group tennis lesson on Saturday, my friend and I were watching her 3-year-old take his tennis lesson. Such a cutie. So cute that he swung the racquet more like a hockey stick or golf club, but it didn’t matter — he was having a blast. As soon as he saw he had an audience, he broke his concentration to point at us, jump up and down a time of two, and smile the biggest smile.

A few minutes later, his tennis lesson was over and he ran off the court and up to his mom and I.

“Ms. Nicole, do you remember when you came to my house?” he asked.

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Of course!!

“Ms. Nicole, look I have pumas on my clothes.” as he pointed to the Puma logos on his shorts and tee-shirt. He was very, very proud of his pumas.

After our tennis lesson, we went to pick him up in the child care room. He was so excited when he saw us and quickly grabbed his lunchbox.

“Mom and Ms. Nicole, I ate my banana but I saved my cereal bar for you to share after your tennis lesson. I thought you might be hungry. I was hungry after I played tennis.” he rattled off.

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Melt my little heart. So stinking cute and sweet.

But, I passed on his cereal bar as I knew I had something better waiting for me at home — these!

I made a batch of these Peanut Butter Trail Mix Bars last weekend and kept a few in the fridge and froze the rest to grab as I need them. While I was originally a little put off with the small portion size, a little bit of these bars goes a long way. They’re rich, sweet, satisfying…and nutritious. Plus, they’d make any kid happy!

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Peanut Butter Trail Mix Bars
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
 
These no-bake bars are sweet and filling -- perfect for a snack or breakfast.
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup almonds
  • ⅔ cup cashews
  • 1½ cups old-fashioned oats
  • ⅓ cup ground flaxseed
  • ⅓ cup mini chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries
  • ⅓ cup raisins
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 cup all natural creamy peanut butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. Place almonds and cashews in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 10-15 times to break into large pieces; transfer to a large bowl and add the oats, ground flaxseed, chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and raisins. Mix thoroughly.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the honey and melted peanut butter and and pour over the dry ingredients. Mix until fully coated. Transfer the mixture into prepared baking dish and press firmly to flatten the bars using the back of a spatula.
  4. Place bars into the refrigerator to set up for at least one hour. Cut into 16 squares. Bars may be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
Notes
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 bar Calories: 272 Fat: 15.8 Carbohydrates: 27.8 Sugar: 14.1 Sodium: 48 Fiber: 3.6 Protein: 6.9 Cholesterol: 0

 It looks like a busy, FREEZING week ahead. I want to go to Cabo San Lucas!! ;)

Be well,

sig4

Chocolate Brownie Cookies + Weekly Menu

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Friday night we did absolutely nothing. I worked way too late for a Friday night and came home to find Mr. Prevention and Lily snuggled up on the air mattress in our bedroom. You see, Lily dog isn’t allowed on furniture or in the bed, yet she refuses to let you enjoy a nap or rest (outside of the hours of 9am to 6am) and so the air mattress comes in handy. Lily sees the air mattress and she can go from full of energy and bouncing off the walls to full out bulldog snoring in peace…with an air mattress.

Who knew air mattresses were magical?

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Even still, we reserve air mattresses for “emergency use” only.

While our Friday routine includes date night out at a restaurant, I knew Mr. P wouldn’t be up for leaving home. If illness wasn’t enough, the drifting snow and 2 degree Michigan winter weather with lake effect snow…flying sideways…was probably what sealed the stay-at-home deal. My growling stomach had me ordering take-out Chinese food that is less than a mile from home. I made it over the snow bank that the plow had built up at the end of our driveway with a quick gunning of the accelerator.

In the naaaaame of dinner!

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Yesterday morning, I barely made it out of the driveway for my tennis lesson, but I made it. After returning from the 90 minute workout dripping in sweat (being sweaty in COLD weather is the worst!), my car didn’t handle the snow bank quite so well. After a few attempts, I was officially stuck at the end of the driveway. The only plus side to this situation was that I opted to wear my boots to the gym versus just running there in my gym shoes. Good thinking, Nicole.

My workout was followed up with another 25 minutes sweat session as I dug out my car and made it safely up the driveway and into the garage. Needless to say, I didn’t leave the house the rest of the day. And what is there to do when you can’t leave home? Bake! With an ingredient list this simple, there was just no saying no to these cookies.

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Chocolate Brownie Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 22
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 egg
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Mix in the egg whites and egg. Fold in the chocolate.
  3. Scoop batter in heaping tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, spaced 2 inches apart. Bake for 14-16 minutes. Allow to cool complete on the baking sheets.
Notes
Recipe from Bon Appetit, January 2014, as seen on Eva Bakes
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cookie Calories: 111 Fat: 2.8 Carbohydrates: 20.7 Sugar: 17.8 Sodium: 113 Fiber: 1.0 Protein: 1.6 Cholesterol: 17

 Weekly Menu: January 26th – 30th

Another lazy day ahead, though I will need to brave the elements for the grocery store at some point ;)

Be well,

sig4

Fruit and Nut Shortbread Cookies

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Remember how my mom told me not to bring any baked good homes? Well, of course I did. And guess who wasn’t upset by my doing so?

Imagine. That.

In my family, I serve as the conscience for everyone at the table. I’m the gate keeper of the salt, butter, and other unhealthy and unnecessary condiments, in particular. I like to remind my father than when he eats too late at night – or eats the wrong foods, he’s going to pay for it later.

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Yesterday, my brother’s girlfriend dropped off 2 beautiful tins of homemade goodies. Red Velvet Truffles? Seriously?! Seriously. It’s a Christmas miracle I put the breaks on after one. But then I had a buckeye and a peanut cluster, too.

And then it hit me…that was way over-doing it. After a beautiful home-cooked meal I had reached that uncomfortable level of indulgence. Don’t you hate that? Note to self: have that be the first and last time you do that this holiday season.

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Later in the night, Mr. Prevention was playing my conscience. As I complained of an upset stomach, he questioned how many goodies I had had. I’m not used to him keeping tabs on my indulgences as I’m usually the one commenting on his evening tapeworm…

I’m to the point after baking, eating, and posting all the glorious cookies…they don’t even interest me at this point in time. Not in the least. Not for today.

However, the lemon in these Fruit and Nut Shortbread Cookies make them seem airy, light, and not-so-sinful. ;)

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Fruit and Nut Shortbread Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 36
 
A lemon-y shortbread cookie that is crumbly, slightly sweet, and filled with red and green fruit and nut goodies!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup dried cherries, chopped
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • ¼ cup raisins, chopped
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup pistachios, chopped
  • ¼ cup cashews, chopped
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl using an electric hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Add the zest and juice of one lemon and vanilla extract; mix well. Add the flour and mix to combine.
  2. Mix in dried cherries, raisins, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, and cashews.
  3. Divide the dough into 2 parts. On a lightly floured surface, roll each section of dough into a log measuring about 8″ long and 1½ inches in diameter. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or until the dough is firm.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  5. Cut logs into ¼″ thick slices and place them on the baking sheets. Bake for 11 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks.
Notes
Recipe from My Friend's Bakery
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cookie Calories: 104 Fat: 6.08 Carbohydrates: 11.3 Sugar: 4.9 Sodium: 21 Fiber: 0.3 Protein: 1.3 Cholesterol: 13

 Church & family fun day! :)

Be well,

sig4

Super Simple Pumpkin Yogurt

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This week had a really rough start. Monday was a 2 hour commute home thanks to snow, bad drivers, and then, an accident on the highway that blocked all 4 lanes. I was in foul humor by the time I got home and Mr. Prevention offered up his culinary specialty: delivery pizza. I opted for leftovers, however.

Wednesday morning, my commute into work was twice as long, once again in thanks to snow. I trekked into work in my heels, my feet wet and cold from the untouched walkways leading from the parking lot to the hospital. I walked in thinking, “I can’t do this anymore! I can’t do this anymore…seriously!”

I had to snap into gear quickly as I ran, literally, to my first meeting of the day. About 1 minute late.

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My co-worker kept me after the meeting to let me know he had a dream about me. I gave him a raised eyebrow as he continued.

“We were both on the show Chopped. You’ve seen Chopped, right?”

I nod.

“Right. I figured. So, we’re on Chopped…in the dessert round. It was just you and I and the challenge was to create a dessert with a moving part. I almost had mine completed and I went to grab something and you destroyed mine. When I came back and asked you if you destroyed it, I called you a b@#*$ and then punched you. You punched me back. And then I woke up. It was so weird…I had to tell you.”

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Hilarious. Stories like this totally make my snowy misery a little brighter.

While this recipe is far from a masterpiece created on Chopped or any other cooking show, it was delicious. It stemmed from a yogurt container left on my desk from a co-worker…it was pumpkin pie yogurt. I haven’t seen it in my grocery store and so I decided to make my own version. Lots of pumpkin for the vitamins, minerals, and fiber, plain Greek yogurt for the probiotics and protein, and just enough sugar and pumpkin pie spice to make it special. I served it topped with a bit of muesli, walnuts, and a few dried cranberries. It’s the perfect, sinless treat to bring us all out of our turkey day food comas!

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Super Simple Pumpkin Yogurt
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ cup brown sugar
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ~ ⅔ cup Calories: 157 Fat: 0.4 Carbohydrates: 38.2 Sugar: 25.8 Fiber: 4.0 Protein: 10.8 Cholesterol: 0

 I thought I was cut out for crazy holiday shopping…but it ends up I’m not. After leaving empty handed, we settled in for the night. :) Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Can’t wait to get up my Christmas decorations!

Be well,

sig4

Meatless Monday and Recipe Repeat: Crustless Pumpkin Pie

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Mr. Prevention and I always have our best conversations when we’re in the car. Short distances or long, we always find something engaging to discuss. On our way to dinner Saturday night, we were discussing the holidays and pondering that perhaps we should host Easter next year up in Michigan. We were thinking about the logistics of our families traveling and what kind of traditions surround Easter.

It was quickly determined that he and I both value tradition…and holidays demand tradition.

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My family’s traditions have changed as my only living grandparent, Grannie, has transitioned to a nursing home and fallen deeper and deeper into the sadness that is dementia. We used to so look forward to her Christmas cookies. Her potato chip cookies were heavenly, but sadly, no one has carried on that tradition. Though, I think that will change this year ;)

Mr. Prevention’s family has the tradition of homemade tortellinis at Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. Basically, they’re the “appetizer” which is followed up with a traditional turkey meal with stuffing, potatoes, and the works. His family all anxiously await the holidays…for the tortellinis. And of course, the family time. Right, guys? ;)

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Our conversation surrounding holidays and traditions lead me to one definite conclusion: food plays a huge part in holiday traditions. Food can be what MAKES holiday traditions. Of course, I support this wholeheartedly.

That said, enjoying holiday traditions does not have to require a new pant size come January. Sometimes you can have your holiday traditions…slimmed down a bit. Enter Crustless Pumpkin Pie.

If you love pumpkin pie, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you simply love pumpkin. In which case, the crust is a perk, but it’s a very high-calorie, high-fat perk. Pumpkin pie lovers…I can almost promise that you’ll find this pie a perfectly acceptable rendition for a fraction of the calories. Thanksgiving just got a little bit better when you can skip the guilt!

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Crustless Pumpkin Pie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 can (15 oz) pureed pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 oz) fat-free evaporated milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ½ cup graham cracker crumbs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the first 10 ingredients, pumpkin through salt, until well blended. Stir in cracker crumbs.
  3. Pour into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Notes
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice Calories: 162 Fat: 2.3 Carbohydrates: 32.6 Sodium: 151 Fiber: 2.6 Protein: 6.8 Cholesterol: 46

 2 1/2 day work week! :-D And so despite getting home late from my hockey game, I’m up and at’em…heading to the gym this morning. #struggling

Be well,

sig4