Chex Mix, Nuts and Sweet Potatoes 010
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Happy Holidays everyone! I thought I would do a quick post today just in case anyone has any holiday parties tonight and they need something quick, easy and of course healthy, to make. Roasted and spiced nuts are a great choice because they are super easy to make and easy to transport. You can also put them in cute decorative jars and give them as gifts.

Nuts are full of protein, fiber and healthy fats and make a great snack food or appetizer. They are great for your heart because they can help lower “bad cholesterol” levels, raise “good cholesterol” and may also reduce your risk of developing blood clots. Many studies link nut consumption to a decreased risk in heart disease and also find that those that eat nuts frequently tend to weigh less than those who do not eat nuts. However, nuts do contain a lot of calories due to their high fat content so make sure you try and limit yourself to about a 1/4 cup portion.

Many roasted and spiced nuts recipes contain loads of butter, and some add a lot of sugar so I wanted to make something very simple with some “I can’t believe it’s not butter light,” a little bit of brown sugar and lots of spices so I don’t add a ton of extra calories.

Holiday Spiced Nuts

Ingredients

1 10 oz bag of whole almonds

1 8 oz bag of Pecan Halves

2 Tablespoons “I can’t believe it’s not butter light”

1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1/2 Teaspoon Allspice

1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg

1/4 Teaspoon Ginger

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add nuts to a large mixing bowl. Mix cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger in a small bowl. Put “I can’t believe it’s not butter light” in a small microwaveable bowl and heat on high for about 30 seconds or until melted. Add brown sugar to melted “I can’t believe it’s not butter light” and stir until dissolved; then stir in vanilla extract. Pour liquid mixture over nuts and stir until coated. Add spice mixture to nuts and mix well until uniform. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread nuts out evenly over the parchment paper. Bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring nuts about half way through for even cooking. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Holiday Spiced Nuts

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Peanut Butter Black Bean Brownies
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Making healthy desserts can be quite challenging because most desserts rely on lots of¬†sugar, butter and refined flour. We know that overconsumption of these ingredients can lead to a host of problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, but you also might not getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need if you are filling up on these empty calories. So I like trying to make a dessert that tastes just as good as the original but actually provides something for your body. So in comes black bean brownies…

I have been looking at recipes for black bean brownies for a long time but I have been kinda afraid to try them. I love black beans but I was afraid I was going to still taste them and be disappointed….and a disappointing dessert is just the worst. I decided to go for it because black beans are naturally low in fat, and high in fiber and protein. They provide a host of many other nutrients and antioxidants that many americans don’t get enough of, so as long as I can hide the black bean flavor, no one will know all the extra secret nutrients they are getting.

My first try did not go so well. I tried using a lot less butter and sugar than standard brownie recipes but I think I took it a little too far. I used applesauce as a replacement for some of the butter and sugar but the brownies came out tasting like bitter chocolate mushy beans. Luckily I was able to scrounge up enough ingredients for another try. This time I used more sugar (but still less than many other brownie recipes), peanut butter, and removed the butter completely. I figured the peanut butter should give creaminess and help mask the taste of the beans along with the sugar. And it worked! They tasted like regular brownies :)

 

Peanut Butter Black Bean Brownies

Ingredients

1 Can of Reduced Sodium Black Beans, Drained and Rinsed

1 Egg

1/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1/2 Cup Peanut Butter

1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar

2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1/4 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 8×8 inch glass baking pan with cooking spray. Add all ingredients except for the chocolate chips in a food processor or really good blender and blend until uniform with no chunks. Fold in chocolate chips and pour into glass baking pan. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until completely cooked. Brownies should start pulling away from pan edges, little cracks should form across the top and toothpick inserted into center should come out clean when done. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Black Bean Brownies

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Hearty Veggie Chili
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While it is December, it is still fairly warm in South Florida. However, last week our air conditioner was broken and we could only turn it completely off or let it blow frigid air constantly. So there were a few mornings I woke up to 58 degree weather in our apartment…. brrrrr. It did put me in the Christmas spirit though and also made me crave warm hearty meals. So I decided to try making a vegetarian chili. Even though there is no meat in my chili, it was very filling. A good dose of protein and fiber is provided from the beans and the quinoa which helps slow digestion and make you feel full longer. Bell pepper, zucchini, onion and tomatoes are also added for a healthy dose of vegetables and lots of flavor. And of course I had to top my bowl with shredded cheddar cheese (reduced fat of course), because cheese is delicious and also supplies much needed calcium and protein :)

 

Ingredients

3 Cups of Water

3/4 Cup Quinoa (uncooked)

1 tsp Olive oil

1 tsp Minced Garlic

1 Large Zucchini – Chopped (About 2 – 2 1/3 cup)

1/2 Large Red Onion – Chopped

1 Green Bell Pepper – Chopped

1 Red Bell Pepper – Chopped

1 Jalapeno – Diced

1 6 oz can of Tomato Paste – no salt added

1 14.5 oz can of Diced Tomatoes – no salt added

1 15 oz can of Reduced Sodium Black Beans – Rinsed and Drained

1 16 oz can of Reduced Sodium Kidney Beans – Rinsed and Drained

1/2 tsp Chipotle Powder

1 tsp Cumin

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

1/2 tablespoon Honey

Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese for Topping

 

Directions

Bring 2 cups of water to a bowl in a large saucepan (at least 3.5 quarts with a tight fitting lid). Add quinoa, turn down to a simmer and cover. Allow to cook for ~15 minutes. While the quinoa is cooking, add olive oil to a large saute pan on medium heat. Add garlic and onions and saute until onions are slightly translucent. Add zucchini, bell peppers and jalapeno. Cook until tender and then turn down to low. After the quinoa is done cooking, turn heat up to medium and add beans, tomato paste and tomatoes to quinoa. Mix well and allow to cook a few minutes until beans and tomatoes are warmed. Turn burner down to low once warmed. Remove cooked veggies from heat and add to quinoa mixture. Add 1 cup of water and chipotle powder, cumin, black pepper and honey to chili mixture. Stir until chili is uniform. Scoop into bowls and top with reduced fat cheddar cheese if desired.

Hearty Veggie Chili with Cheese

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