Friday, August 24, 2012

Guilt-free Ice Cream!

So, time to 'fess up. I have a serious weakness for sweets that seems to hit me primarily after dinner. Unfortunately, my kids and my husband share this weakness. I search for the "cleanest" sweets that I can find that will a) be acceptable to the whole family and b) actually satisfy the sweet tooth.  Might as well be searching for the Holy Grail!

I now have a board on Pinterest called "Clean Sweets" and I've tried a few things, but this one has been universally popular with the whole family, literally has NO sugar added, and is actually good for you!

This one is all over the healthy blogs, but I pulled my recipe from  She has the BEST healthy sweets, most of which are gluten and dairy free.

Check it out:

Would you believe this is frozen bananas?

Chocolate "Soft-Serve"

2 frozen bananas (or 1 per person)

2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder (or 1 T. per person)

1 packet Stevia (if, like my family, you like it a little sweeter; you could also use honey)

1/4 t. pure vanilla extract

1-2 T. milk or dairy alternative (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)

Put all of the above ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth and chunks of banana are gone.  This may take a few minutes, depending on your food processor.  Add a bit more milk if needed. When finished, it should literally look like soft-serve ice cream.

Serve immediately (my kids wanted sprinkles on theirs).  Be warned that this will not keep it's consistency if allowed to thaw; it just turns into a sticky mess. I haven't tried freezing it to serve later, not sure if that would work or not.

We tried to make vanilla soft serve by adding more vanilla and a bit of honey, but it just tasted like bananas. You can also make a peanut butter banana flavor by replacing the cocoa with PB2 or or peanut butter, or chocolate peanut butter by keeping the cocoa in there! You could also add other fruits into the mix, like strawberries. Enjoy!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pesto Chicken Salad...and a new plan

Ok, so obviously we are HORRIBLE at keeping this blog updated. But with all my "pinning" lately, I've become inspired to try and do better!

Speaking of pinning, my cooking lately has been composed entirely of dishes that I've found on or via Pinterest. There are some amazing healthy living blogs out there!  I'm not very good at developing my own recipes (despite being left-handed, I seem to lack the creativity gene), but I love to find other peoples' recipes and modify them to fit what I like or happen to have in my kitchen.

I also recently instituted a rule in my house that when I cook dinner (usually 3x/week), everybody eats it. I found that I was becoming a short-order cook -- I never got to sit down with my family for dinner and my kids were becoming increasingly picky! So they now have to at least try everything I make; if they don't like it, they eat PB&J sandwiches. No argument, end of discussion. I have also eliminated almost all processed foods from our house (there are some organic items that I let slide; I don't have the time to make homemade bread, tortilla chips, or crackers, and those Applegate Farms organic chicken tenders are just so darn convenient!). After church on Sundays, the rest of my day is spent chopping and cooking for the week ahead so that weeknights go more smoothly. My husband and I always bring our lunches to work, my son starts Kindergarten next week, and my daughter starts 2x/week pre-school the week after, so that's a lot of on-the-go meals to provide! Plus, if I don't get dinner on the table quickly once I get home from work, I have kids eating dinner in their pajamas. Ah, the challenges of a working mom ;)

In any case, I have a lot of recipes to share now! I need to remind myself to take pictures of everything I make so I can post the pictures along with the recipes. (Warning: my photography skills are nowhere near professional; my iPhone camera is the best one I have.)  And I will always give the blog where I got the recipe, or at least its inspiration. There are a lot of talented healthy recipe developers out there, so make sure you check them out.

Today's recipe is a replicate of one I found at Her recipes are healthy, yummy, and simple.  She also has some great workouts posted, so check her out! This is a pesto chicken salad; the only modification I made was using fresh baby spinach instead of the fresh basil she called for.  And I used a little less olive oil because I don't like the oily texture (yep, I'm weird. I've accepted it).

Pesto Chicken Salad

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup raw walnuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced

Boil the chicken breasts in water or chicken broth for about 30 minutes, or until fully cooked.  Remove from pan and shred with two forks. Set aside.

Combine spinach, sunflower seeds, walnuts, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper in your food processor.  Process until mixture becomes a paste or sauce (depending on what you prefer and how much oil you add).

Put chicken in a large bowl and toss with pesto, celery, and carrot. Enjoy!

The first night we had this, I ate my chicken salad plain and my husband had his in a pita.  When I ate it for dinner last night, I warmed it on top of some steamed spinach and then topped it with feta cheese, a couple of grape tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and hot chili sauce. Yummy!!