Baking is my secret to exercising in copious amounts, and still not being skinny.
All sarcasm aside, exercise and baking are my two favorite things to do. My ying and yang, my balance, my two extremes. And honestly, they do create a good healthy “real” approach to life.
As I have added more whole foods into my family’s diet and removed processed foods I have found that there is also a balance in healthy baking. Skinny cookies made with banana, oats and no sugar for example caused a big upheaval around here and have been proclaimed in my house as “too healthy”. They just aren’t even a cookie anymore.
These are a few things you can do to make your baking healthier...without overdoing it:
Whole grain swap
Truthfully, few baked goods retain their fluffy, chewy, delicious flavor and texture when all-purpose flour is replaced 100% with whole wheat. Mixing in a white whole wheat flour, 50% with all purpose in chocolate chip cookies however is hardly noticeable. I’m partial to Trader Joes White Whole Wheat flour as it has a smooth flavor. Mixing in small amounts of oats, wheat germ and flax to a muffin or quick bread recipe works well too. Replace flour in equal amounts.
Keep moving tip: Start small and build. Mix in ¼ whole grains with a favorite recipe for while, then bump it up to ½ over time. Our taste buds change and get used to new flavors over time.
Substituting applesauce or mashed banana for oil or butter, even for 50%, reduces the fat content and adds a fruit to many baking recipes. Perfect for cakes, muffins and quick breads. Try pumpkin for oil in chocolate recipes, as it almost makes the chocolate more chocolat-y and adds a veggie.
Applesauce and pumpkin puree are actually both simple to make, albeit time consuming. When buying pre-made look at the ingredients list, and make sure you getting just apples or just pumpkin without additional ingredients.
Real butter is a whole food, but should be used sparingly. If you’re using butter, use butter. Not a margarine or other product with hydrogenated oils. Your body does not process these naturally. Read more on Butter vs. Margarine here.
Keep moving tip: when making a recipe that might be too close to the too healthy line, add a handful of mini chocolate chips or m&m’s. (mini’s spread out and seem like more even if the total quantity is less). Seeing chocolate chips somehow changes the expectation my kids have for the baked good….maybe mine too. These Healthy Honey Oatmeal Cookies were a hit yesterday with a handful of chopped up peanut m&m's.
When baking, look over the recipe and see if you can make half the recipe. With many things, half a recipe is plenty for your family…4 of you probably don’t need to eat 36 chocolate chip cookies or 24 cupcakes in three days.
There really is no replacing fresh from the oven cookie taste, so make a batch of dough, bake a pan full then wrap the remaining dough in Sarah Wrap to freeze. When you are ready to use it, leave it in the refrigerator a few hours to thaw then bake as usual.
Quick breads and muffins freeze well after baked, use freezer grade bags when possible. Once you thaw them toast a few minutes in the oven to bring back the fresh baked warm factor.
Each family, or each person will have a “too healthy” line of their own. But I have found that the more we eat whole foods, the less we need the processed options and the further toward healthy our “too healthy” line goes.
Share what your family finds as “too healthy” or any swaps or secrets you use in baking.
Ice cream is my all-time favorite sweet treat, but probably not something I should indulge in everyday. Banana ice cream is a decent healthy alternative. If you haven’t tried it yet, freeze up some bananas right away. This is tasty stuff.
When my client, Laura, gave me her recipe for mint chip banana ice cream that gets rave reviews from her kids it got me thinking about variety. They do say variety is the spice of life why not try it with this?
Searching my pantry for some fun flavors, resulted in list of 5 fantastic flavors. Convenience and speed is key with dessert…you never know when you’ll “need” something sweet. Each has as few ingredients as possible so you can whip them up faster than going to the ice cream shop.
First step takes the longest unless of course you keep frozen bananas ready to go at all times. Juice Plus Complete smoothies are a regular menu item here so our freezer is stocked.
I’m more of a get it done girl than a perfectionist when food is involved. So after peeling a ripe banana, I just break it in pieces and toss it onto a foil covered baking sheet. Freeze for an hour or two. Then store in gallon size freezer zip lock bags.
Keep moving mama: The foil makes is simple to pick up the edges and dump them into a large freezer bag. And if your grocery store sells bags of over ripe bananas at a lower cost per pound, buy a few and freeze a big bunch. Get it bunch…of bananas. My own biggest fan I know.
Once frozen, dump some bananas into your food processor along with optional other ingredients, then turn it on super high. Let it go till you see the mixture come together, similar to the texture of cookie dough. If you let your bananas thaw 5-10 minutes first it will go faster, and your texture will be more like soft serve.
We’re talking anywhere between 1 and 3 minutes, wait for it. Scrape the sides down, then process one more time to incorporate everything.
Now you have two choices
The fantastic five banana ice cream flavors are…drum roll…..:
Front row, left to right: Blueberry Banana, Peanut Butter Chocolate
Back row, left to right: Mint Chip, Chocolate, Vanilla Latte
After making a “rich brew” cup of coffee and letting it cool, I added ¼ c to the bananas. Next time I would freeze the coffee in ice cube trays…but you already know I’m not much for patience with food. Adding the vanilla took away the coffee bite and sweetened it up. Make your own vanilla extract with the recipe at the bottom of myhomemade lemon extract blog post.
Peanut butter chocolate
Adding some cocoa and pb2 made this flavor a fix for my chocolate/peanut butter craving. If you haven’t met pb2 you mustfollow this link and buy some now. It’s great in smoothies….and banana ice cream. Less calories and a good amount of protein make it a nice sub for peanut butter with even more peanutty flavor. A scoop of natural peanut butter would work too.
This one is my nod to Laura's recipe. Isn’t mint and chocolate a perfect combo?
A handful of spinach makes it green, mint and vanilla extract give it a smooth taste. Then put the chocolate chips in when you scrape down the bowl so they are big enough for some crunch in your ice cream.
Keep moving mama: Process this a bit longer to make the green bits smaller if you worry about a kid freak out at the sight of green bits. I might experiment with processing the spinach before adding the bananas next time. Any ideas here?
Adding a scoop of Juice plus chocolate complete to the bananas made it even fluffier and hit the chocolate need, I mean craving dead on. It’s also less tart tasting than cocoa powder. Learn more about Juice Plus here.
Fresh or frozen either way. I actually used the blue berry mash left from making a blue berry simple syrup last week. Throwing food away drives me crazy. This combo is a classic, and a beautiful color. Look how beautiful it was when I stopped to peak and scrape down the sides.
And now the official recipe:
5 Fantastic Flavors of
Banana Ice Cream
Add ins, list below
Give these a try or come up with something new. My "official" taste testers aka kids, loved the chocolate and mint chip the best...but cleaned all the bowls anyway. I would love to hear how these come out for you or which one you’ll try first.
There is something fun about little snacks.
Energy bites, mini muffins, bite size cookies, mini pretzels, honey crisp balls…they are just adorable and fun to eat.
Honey crisp balls are beyond a doubt my favorite quick treat to make, and I have to admit my kids LOVE them too.
They take all of 10 min to whip up a whole batch and the ingredients are always in my kitchen.
Combine honey, crispy rice cereal, peanut butter and Juice Plus complete in a big bowl. Stir until everything is combined and scoop out balls. Using a cookie scoop like this one from Oxo keeps them all the same size and your hands don't get as sticky rolling them.
Place them on a baking sheet covered with foil, then freeze. This makes it a cinch to pick up the paper and pour them into a big freezer bag. To control portions and have a ready to go snack, put 2-3 in a snack size zip lock. Keeping them in the freezer ensures they won’t completely smoosh before you eat them if you take them on the go.
Keep Moving tip: Juice Plus complete is a whole food meal or snack replacement powder that I’m personally addicted to. It's all natural ingredients you can feel good about eating. It's perfect for a pre workout smoothie for early morning runs, afternoon snacks, pre practice meals for my kids in that crazy “finish your homework fast so we can make it to your practice on time…oh and eat this on the way” time. My whole family also eats the fruit and veggie capsules to ensure we have exposure to 26+ nutrient dense plants every single day. My distributor website is: www.livemorewith.juiceplus.com if you would like to order or have questions.
Aussie bites fit this “cute little snack” category too, and are filled with good for you whole food ingredients. You can certainly buy them at Costco or our local Raleys, but I love to make things from scratch whenever possible.
Rachel at The Stay at Home Chef created a great homemade recipe for aussie bites that comes out everytime. Coconut oil subbed for the oil is super yummy. I find these are a good recipe when I have a bit more time to gather ingredients and make a double batch. Makes me hungry just looking at it all.
Back to the honey crisp balls, here’s the recipe:
Juice Plus+ complete honey crisp balls
Makes 3 dozen, depending on scoop size.
1 cup Juice Plus Complete (Chocolate or Vanilla)
3 cups Rice Cereal
2/3 cup honey
2/3 cup Crunchy or Creamy Natural Peanut Butter
Variations: Add a few tablespoons of ground flax, chia seeds or even mini chocolate chips if you have them on hand.
Enjoy your “cute little snacks” and share your favorite cute little snacks below. Thank you for stopping by.
Keep moving mama.
When life gives you lemons, leap for joy! There are so many tasty lemony things to make with them after all. We don’t have any fruit trees in our yard, but on occasion a friend or neighbor will bring over extras. I just LOVE when that happens so I can come up with ways to use them all up and enjoy the home grown taste of fresh fruit.
This time it was lemons from my sister in law. We used them on fish, in “fancy” lemon water and then I started to get creative. A successful attempt at vanilla extract recently turned out even more delicious and much less expensive than store bought.
So I was off to figure out if I could make a homemade extract from all these lovely lemons. First task was to find a seal-able jar, and HomeGoods had this one on the clearance table no less.
Keep moving tip: Typically these little jars are available at Cost Plus for a reasonable cost. This time I just happened to go into Home Goods first since Cost Plus was closed.
Back at home, I went to town peeling the zest off 3 lemons with this handy Jokari Healthy Steps Citrus Pro 4-in-1 Multi-Tool. You could just as easily use a Microplane like the one in this link, or a simple paring knife. Focus on getting just the peel, not the white pithy part underneath. I used the citrus pro since the peels were much easier to get into the jar than zest would have been.
Once you are done, stuff all that clean smelling good lemon peel into your clean jar. Fill nearly to the top with Vodka and seal. Store in a cool, dark place like the back of your pantry for 4-6 weeks. Once a week or so shake the jar a few times and admire how beautiful it is.
When you can’t stand the anticipation any longer, try it one of your favorite recipes.
If it is strong enough for you, strain the peels and return to your cute little jar. If not, wait another week or so.
What will you use this lovely stuff for you ask?
I’m planning to use mine in these three recipes to start, maybe not in this order:
Vanilla extract is used in copious amounts in this house. I just love baking and typically double the vanilla in recipes. Since I also add it to smoothies, vanilla lattes’, foamy vanilla steamers, chia tea, sometimes even a splash in hot cocoa...it goes fast. This fact convinced me to try the homemade version although I’m notoriously impatient. That first batch was torture waiting the 4-6 weeks, I made it to 4.5 weeks and the result was worth the wait.
Here’s the recipe for the extracts for your torture, I mean pleasure:
Lemon peels from 3 lemons
6 oz. Vodka
Vanilla extract: sub 2-3 vanilla beans. Cut them down to side first.
These amounts are variable, add more to increase the intensity or store longer before using.
Looking forward to hearing what you think of this homemade, fun project. #keepmovingmama to show off your version on Instagram so we can see your results!
Enjoy, eat and please share. Keep moving mama.
Planning meals ahead makes it so much easier to make healthy choices.
You have probably heard of salad in a jar, and maybe even tried it. Layering ingredients in a jar so that they will last for future lunches or any one the go meal is brilliant. This idea takes the same concept to warm, comforting, good for you soup.
These Asian inspired noodle soup bowls heat up in minutes and are totally filling. Layer your tasty ingredients at the bottom of the container, pile in the noodles, top with veggies and seal. When you are set to eat, just add boiling water to the pot and let it sit a few minutes. Crispy veggies in warm soup in minutes. Delicious!
Soup In a Jar
Makes 4 servings in less than 10 minutes
3 tbsp Reduced sodium Soy sauce
1 tsp Wasabi paste
½ tsp Siracha hot chili sauce - more if you like spicy
3 tsp better than bullion reduced sodium chicken soup base
3 bundles of Buckwheat Japanese noodles – cooked and cooled
12.3 ounces Firm Silken tofu, cubed - or another lean protein, leftover chicken works perfect
½ c. brussel sprouts sliced
1 cup bean sprouts
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
Handful of spinach
In a small bowl, stir soy sauce, wasabi paste, Siracha sauce and chicken base together. Pour 1/4 into each of four 12 ounce Ball jars.
Layer in tofu, veggies and put on the lid. Keep in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
Fill the jar to the top with boiling water, put the lid back on and let sit for 5 minutes. Give it a shake, open and enjoy.
Keep Moving Tip: In 12 oz. Ball jars, the ingredients packed the jars to the top. If you prefer more broth, use a larger jar or make 5 jars.
Recipe adapted from The Londoner’s traveling noodles recipe.
Have fun with these, use ingredients you like or have on hand. They are completely flexible. Ball jars are my container of choice, I have a bunch around and they do well with hot liquids. Not to mention they’re just cute. My water glass is a Ball jar too, it’s a thing.
When you give it a try let me know what you think, what variations you come up with. #keepmovingmama with your photos on Instagram so we can see your creations too!
Finger food is perfect for game day.
Typically football weekends are my time at home to try new recipes and meal plan for the week ahead. My family loves football, I love cooking, it's a win-win situation. But I do like watching the Super Bowl...maybe for the commercials, maybe not.
Finger food is not your typical health food that's for sure. This year, I’m making a "healthified" version of the processed cheese food, canned beans and salsa dip recipe of the past with cheesy bean dip.
Today, I’m making a big batch of not-fried re-fried beans. This recipe came from Homemaker in Training, Amy spoke at one of our local moms groups several years ago and share this recipe. I have adapted it with less salt, more cumin and have long since stopped measuring ingredients it's so easy. These beans are multi-taskers; we’ll have bean burritos tonight, a bean dip Sunday, and beans stocked up in the freezer for burritos, taco salad or quesadillas another day.
True to my promise this recipe is super simple too. It’s made in the crockpot, who doesn’t love an appliance that cooks while you go about your day? This recipe doesn’t even require presoaking the beans, yahoo.
Crockpot recipes should be throw it all in, let it cook and take it out at dinner time. I’m good with chopping, but would rather not have to cook something first. Maybe that’s just me.
Cheesy Bean Dip
2 Tablespoons chopped garlic
1 whole Onion – chop the ends off and peel off the skin
½ to 1 whole Jalapeno (adjust depending on your love of spicy)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups dry pinto beans
Just for the dip:
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Hot sauce – to taste
Throw it all into the crockpot, add water until everything is covered. Turn on high for 8 hours. Test the beans for tenderness, when they are soft and super yummy you're set to go.
Tonight, I’ll scoop out whole beans to add to our burritos.
For the Super bowl bean dip, we’re mashing into a traditional re-fried bean consistency. Scoop out about 2 cups of beans, add half cup of bean water (it’s magic stuff, all the seasoning is in there) and mash with your potato masher or a fork. Add more water if you like. Stir in shredded cheese and a hot sauce to taste, mix again.
Pepper Plant: My husband and I both went to Cal Poly in SLO so we are partial to this local product.
Tostitos: They have just 3 ingredients: whole white corn, vegetable oil and salt.
With a large batch, I would put this out in a fondue pot to keep it warm. Honestly it doesn’t last long enough to get cold with the four of us. True.
For the multi-tasking part, you take the rest and freeze in zip locks for the next bean occasion with some magic bean water. A whole batch is typically 3-4 meals worth as an add-in or side dish.
Enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday, “healthified” food and all. What’s on your finger food menu?
Keep Moving Mama, and please share!
It is scientifically proven that eating every 2-3 hours keeps your blood sugars level, metabolism pumping and keeps you from over eating at meals. Doing so has made a huge difference in my own ability to make better food choices and maintain a healthy weight.
Having a snack in my car when I get in after a workout, or an apple on the counter when I get up from my computer in the afternoon I’ll eat that and be good to go till my next meal.
When there’s not I am likely to eat the whole jar of peanuts, or stop to buy a candy bar at the drug store on the way home...not healthy choices. Having a properly portioned snack in a little baggie keeps me in line. Go figure. And my family is learning portion control too.
Variety is the spice of life, eating the same snack everyday just won’t do. So watch for more snack posts in the near future, I managed to rein myself in and just give one recipe with a bunch of options in this blog post.
Today I’m sharing the simplest “homemade” snack I know, it’s a favorite of mine and my kids gobble it up too. Trail mix with just 4 ingredients that is ready in 3.2 minutes. I typically use dark chocolate (I stock up the day after any holiday, hence the Christmas packaging), unsalted or light salted nuts and sunflower seeds only if the kids haven’t seen them in the pantry and eaten them already. Look for dried fruit without added sugars or your calories go through the roof.
Super Simple Trail Mix
1 ½ cups salted peanuts
2 cups raisins
1 cup chocolate hard shell candy
1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
Amount Per Serving 1/3 cup
Keep Moving Tip: Use what you like. unsalted almonds, a different dried fruit, more or less of any item, you can't go wrong.
More combo ideas:
Please share your favorite trail mix combination in the comments.
Oh yes, you know the song. And believe me it’s a favorite tune in our house, cause this mama cooks with beans all-the-time.
Beans are actually one of my favorite places to save on the grocery bill and to channel my need to control the quality of ingredients. A can of beans is great in a hurry, but cooking dry beans is so satisfying and makes the house smell fabulous! They tend to hold together better and have a brighter color too.
In fact, I cook them so often that my friend Elizabeth and I started going in on a humongous bag of pinto beans every so often. Then we get to have a girls trip to Costco, it’s much more fun Costco shopping with her than on my own.
This week I cooked 2 pounds of black beans while we were at the house watching play off football. Football season gives me lots of time to cook.
Super easy recipe, you got this.
Toss the beans into a colander and rinse
I have yet to find a rock in my beans, but always look anyhow.
Toss the beans into the biggest stock pot you have, fill it with water to cover the beans by a few inches.
Bring to a rolling boil for 2 min, then cover and let sit for an hour.
Yes you can soak them overnight, but I rarely remember.
Drain the beans in the colander, toss back in the pot, cover with water and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to a slow simmer for about 2 hours. The time varies on the type of bean, the age of the beans so taste one periodically to see if they are done. Smashing one with the back of a spoon will let you know how soft they are too if you don’t want to eat a zillion unseasoned beans.
Once they are finished, I let them cool. Then scoop 2 cups into a freezer bag. Then I have a stock pile of beans in my freezer.
15 oz can of black beans at Raleys is $1.49
1 pound of dry black beans at Raleys is $1.99
1 pound of dry cooked = 53 ounces of cooked beans or 3.5 cans
Savings on 3.5 cans vs a pound dry = $2.48
That’s less than half price for a better product. Typically I find dry beans for even less in the bulk section, on sale or at Costco since they have a long shelf life.
Tonight I’m using a crockpot burrito bowl recipe with the black beans. Stay tuned to find out how that turns out. Recipe. http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-slow-cooker-chicken-burrito-bowls-207333
Love to hear your favorite bean and how you use them. Keep moving mama!
Realizing I was no longer in control was my first lesson in motherhood. Babies do not come till they are ready and they never read the detailed birth plan. Turns out teenagers do things on their own time too.
It has taken years of practice, but I have found that if I focus on the few things that I can control, my whole family is better for it.
Running a group fitness program and a personal training business from home give me the exercise outlet. Each day I am inspired to learn new things about fitness and all its many topics, I just love it! Weird to some, but completely true.
Food is honestly on my mind even more than exercise. Baking, cooking, meal planning, visiting farmers markets...drooling over food blogs. Keeping the focus on real food for my family is my goal, doing that while living in our modern world is the daily challenge.
Attitude is a daily choice, I choose to do the best I can with what I've got.
So come along with me on this journey, I’ll share as I go if you will too…. keep moving mama!
Combining a love of real food, commitment to exercise, a home based business and a family without going over the edge is the balance I seek daily. There is a confidence that comes from combining these things into life.
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