Seriously Yummy Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake Bars

Thursday night I did my first Krav Maga class, which is basically a combo of self-defense/boxing/martial arts. It was a ton of fun and I learned a lot, but I’m still sore…what a workout! The most fun part was wearing boxing gloves and just punching the daylights out of a bag, talk about a stress reliever! I signed up to try cardio kickboxing next Thursday, which the instructor told me burns 1,000 calories a class – wish me luck 🙂

During the blizzard earlier in the week I figured I had no choice but to stay in and whip up a yummy dessert. Luckily I had stocked up on all the ingredients beforehand! These were so easy to make and are seriously so good. Just be careful; at about 350 calories each, you can’t get away with eating too many! However, they are packed with healthy fats (from the coconut and peanut butter), very filling (high in fiber and protein), and require only a few ingredients. Who said clean eating has to be boring?

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Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake Bars

Adapted From: Money Saving Mom

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup wildflower honey (made by my very own friend Bill and his bees!)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds (could substitute other nuts/raisins)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • coconut oil spray

Directions:

1.) Melt the peanut butter, honey, and coconut oil over medium low heat in a saucepan on the stove. Stir continually until fully melted to prevent it from burning.

2.) Once it is all melted together, remove from heat and stir in the oats, cocoa powder, coconut, nuts, and vanilla until well mixed.

3.) Pour into a greased brownie pan or 9 x 13 pan and cool in the fridge (I left it overnight). Remove from brownie wells or cut into bars. Store in the fridge or freezer; they get soft if left at room temp too long!

Nutrition Info (Per bar, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 355
Fat 26 g (12 g saturated)
Fiber 5 g
Carbs 28 g
Sugars 12 g
Protein 9 g

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage, Spinach, and Creamy Butternut Sauce

Happy Friday! This has been quite a week here in New England with the “Blizzard of 2015″…we got about 2 feet of snow! However, we ended up having a lot of fun during the storm playing charades, making a big breakfast, watching some movies, and playing football in the snow. I also got to do a good amount of cooking and baking!

The night before the storm, I headed to the grocery store to make sure I had everything I needed to cook some stuff while I was snowed in. This ended up being the perfect dish for a cold and snowy night! I also appreciated not having to rush through cooking it, and having the time to experiment a bit, since I had a much-needed rest from my busy schedule this week. I also made some yummy no-bake bars – that recipe will be up soon (have to eat dinner before dessert, right?) Enjoy! 🙂

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Spaghetti Squash with Sausage, Spinach, and Creamy Butternut Sauce

Adapted From: Skinnytaste

Ingredients:

  • 4 links Italian chicken sausage
  • 1 1/2 lbs butternut squash, peeled and diced (or pre-cooked cubes, I found them at Walmart!)
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance or other buttery spread
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus 1/4 tbsp for brushing/spraying onto squash before baking)
  • 6 cups cooked spaghetti squash (about 4.5-5 lb raw squash)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond)
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt, black pepper, and chili powder, to taste

Directions:

1.) Cook spaghetti squash (instructions here). Scrape into a large bowl/strainer lined with paper towels and set aside.

2.) Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add raw butternut squash and cook until soft. Or heat pre-cooked cubes in microwave for about a minute to soften them. Then add squash to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Add milk and blend again until creamy, adding salt and pepper (if desired).

3.) In a large skillet, melt 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic for a few minutes, then add in the chicken sausage and brown. Add in spinach, one handful at a time, until it fully wilts.

4.) Add creamy butternut sauce to the skillet and mix everything together. Add in cheddar cheese and stir, then season with salt, pepper, and chili powder, if desired.

5.) Divide spaghetti squash among 5 bowls/containers and then top each with sauce mixture until it’s evenly divided.

Nutrition Info (Per serving, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 311
Fat 15 g (4 g saturated)
Fiber 5 g
Carbs 33 g
Sodium 548 mg
Protein 17 g

Game Changing Snacks with Blue Diamond Almonds!

The big game is almost here! Naturally, being a Massachusetts girl, I’ll be rooting for New England 🙂 Whether you are going to a party, hosting your own, or just plopping down on your couch for the game, you need game time snacks! In my opinion, the best part of the game is the food, so I came up with two great snack ideas that are super easy to whip up. I made one salty and one sweet (to satisfy all types of snackers) and both are quick to throw together in a hurry. Also neither require heating or baking, so you can keep your focus on the game and not worry about burning anything! They are the perfect crowd-pleasing snacks for any occasion. Enjoy – let’s go Pats!

Team 1: Sweet Smokehouse Party Mix

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Team 2: Asian Almond and Garlic Hummus

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Sweet Smokehouse Party Mix

  • Servings: 12 (1/2 cup servings)
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Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 oz.) bag Turtle Chex Mix
  • 2 tbsp coconut chips (I get them at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 1/2 oz. (about 42) Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds
  • 1 (1.69 oz.) pouch M&Ms
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter chips
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins

Directions:

1.) Chop up almonds into halves. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and serve! Could also be put into decorative bags to hand out before the game 🙂

Nutrition Info (Per 1/2 cup serving, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 160
Fat 7 g (3 g saturated)
Fiber 1 g
Carbs 22 g
Sugars 12 g
Protein 3 g

Asian Almond and Garlic Hummus

  • Servings: 32 (2 tbsp servings)
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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water (or less if you want the hummus to be thicker)
  • 9 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cans (15.5 oz. each) chick peas/Garbanzo beans
  • 1/2 cup Blue Diamond Wasabi & Soy Sauce almonds
  • 2 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 1/2 tsp minced garlic (about 5 cloves)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

Directions:

1.) Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until creamy. Store in the fridge for about an hour before serving to thicken the hummus. Serve with pita chips, crackers, or veggies for dipping!

Nutrition Info (Per 2 tbsp serving, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 92
Fat 7 g (1 g saturated)
Fiber 2 g
Carbs 6 g
Sodium 144 mg
Protein 3 g

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. For more Game Changing Snacks, visit Blue Diamond Almonds on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Cookies and Cream Protein Shake!

Happy Friday everyone! I will be heading to Mohegan Sun this weekend for a friend’s 25th birthday…I’m excited to have some dinner, drinks, and fun with friends 🙂 Sometimes you need to splurge a little, and that’s ok! I used to get down on myself for eating an unhealthy meal out or not being able to hit the gym. But I’ve come to realize that you need to live your life and not let these things worry you (thanks to the AA Bikini Body program for further emphasizing that!) Just plan the rest of your week around it – go to the gym on the days you can, eat well during the week, make your own meals at home, and then enjoy a night out. We all deserve it!

Speaking of the AA Bikini Body program (which I raved about here), there is now a Facebook support group for anyone who is part of the program. I’m obsessed with it! Every day I go on and see tons of motivating posts, recipe ideas, and successes/struggles from real girls. I can ask questions or advice from others and even Amanda and Ander will respond, as well as post workout selfies like the rest of us! I just love it. I’m not saying that you need to buy a workout/nutrition program to see results, because I know you can do it all on your own. But I have to admit that having a workout guide to follow, a nutritionist and fitness expert on hand, and a boatload of motivated ladies only a click away helps me when I need motivation or advice. These girls are so POSITIVE and I love it (clearly)!

The other night I was having a serious sweet craving. I don’t even think I was hungry, but I wanted something. And it needed to be chocolatey and delicious. Clearly my first thought was “ice cream! cookies! candy!” but I somehow convinced myself to put my thinking cap on and come up with something delicious and chocolatey yet also semi-healthy. So a protein shake it is! I had bought these yummy chocolate grahams to eat with my Arctic Zero, so I decided to use them to make a cookies and cream shake. It took some taste-testing and tweaking but the end result was yummy! It made a big glass and was under 300 calories…success 🙂

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Cookies and Cream Protein Shake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup plain/vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (omit if you use vanilla yogurt)
  • 20 chocolate snack grahams (I like Horizon Organic)
  • 1/3 scoop vanilla protein powder (I like Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein – Vanilla Ice Cream flavor)
  • 8-10 ice cubes

Directions:

1.) Add ice to a blender and top with the rest of the ingredients. Then just blend! Add more grahams or protein powder to taste, depending if you want it more cookies-and-cream-y or more vanilla-y. Enjoy!

Nutrition Info (Per shake, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 281
Fat 8 g (1 g saturated)
Fiber 2 g
Carbs 29 g
Sugars 14 g
Protein 20 g

My Favorite Healthy Snacks Under 300 Calories!

Anyone who know me knows that I am a snacker. I’m that one friend who always has trail mix in her car, granola bars in her purse, dried fruit at her desk…basically, I will never go hungry (bring on the apocalyse!) I actually consider my afternoon snack as one of my 4 meals a day, that’s how important it is to me. Gotta fuel up during the mid-afternoon slump! It also ensures that I am never hungry at the gym, because ain’t NOBODY got time for that. There is probably nothing worse than being hungry at the gym. Especially on pizza Monday #planetfitnessproblems.

Anyways, I wanted to share my go-to favorite snacks. My afternoon snack is usually around 200-300 calories with a decent amount of protein to keep me going through my workout. I also included some lower-calorie snacks that I like to have after lunch or dinner when a sweet craving strikes!

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My usual favorite: yogurt parfait! I layer fruit (frozen or fresh), plain Greek yogurt, and granola. If I use frozen fruit, I will make it in the morning and it will be thawed by the afternoon. I also put the granola on right before I eat it so it stays crunchy!

A great salty, crunchy snack is hummus with crackers/pretzels! These Triscuit Thin Crisps are smaller, so you can eat more for less calories – win!

A great snack when you’re on the go – individual trail mix pouches (I get them at Trader Joe’s!) and fruit!

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These chocolate covered banana slices are SO GOOD! I get them at Trader Joe’s and you just eat them frozen. They are only 32 calories each, so they are great if you just need a little something to satisfy a sweet craving after lunch or dinner! Dole makes them as well in 100 calorie packs (4 slices per pack), but I like that the Trader Joe’s ones are all in one box…that way if I only want one, I don’t need to open a whole pack!

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Chocolate and coconut bites are a delicious way satisfy your sweet tooth! They are super gooey thanks to the secret ingredient – dates! Speaking of ingredients, there are only 6, and they are all clean and healthy. These are only 157 calories each and you can leave a batch of them right in the fridge or freezer. Find my recipe here!

  

Arctic Zero is a life (and waistline) saver. It’s very low cal (150 calories in the whole pint!), made with whey protein, low in sugar, and it’s a great ice cream substitute! However, the only flavor I have actually liked is mint chocolate cookie; I get it at Walmart, near the frozen yogurt, and it’s a little expensive (about $5 a pint). It has a good minty chocolate flavor, but no “chunks” of cookie or anything, so I add my own! I used to add a 100-calorie pack of Oreos, but I have now found Horizon Organic Chocolate Snack Grahams (also at Walmart) which have ingredients that I can actually recognize. I scoop out 1/3 of the pint (50 calories) over 17 snack grahams (130 calories) in a bowl and let it soften, then I mush it all together and break up the cookies. It has a soft-serve type texture and the cookie bits make it taste like an indulgent treat, but it’s less than 200 calories!

Quick apple crisp is a great way to have a “comfort” sweet treat without blowing too many calories! It also has a lot less sugar than traditional crisp and can be whipped up in just a few minutes! Put 1 tablespoon of almond/nut butter in a bowl and add a diced apple. Top with cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 tablespoon coconut flakes, and 2 tablespoons of granola (I used my mom’s recipe which has nuts and maple flavor!) Microwave until warm, mix it all together, and enjoy!

What are your favorite low-cal, healthy snacks??

Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad

One of my goals for 2015 is to run a 5k…not a mud run, but an actual RUN. I am not a fan of running, which is why I enjoy doing the mud runs; you get to climb over a bunch of obstacles and only have to run in between them. However, I would like to become a better runner and maybe even enjoy it (maybe). Over Christmas I ran while I was at my parents’ house because I didn’t have a gym to use. It was also in the 50s a few days! Only in New England. I actually was able to run about 2.6 miles comfortably, and probably could have kept going! I was surprised at this, since normally I can run a max of 2 miles and that usually happens on a treadmill. I think I have the strength training workouts from the Amanda Adams program to thank for this 🙂 Anyways, I bring this up because I just signed up for my first 5k – the Narragansett Summer Running Festival! It’s not until July, giving me plenty of time to get ready, but I am doing it with a couple friends and it’s at Stonehill College, so I get to run around my old alma mater. And you get a few Narragansetts at the end. Running actually sounds ok if it ends with a few beers!

I made this delicious pesto bow-tie pasta salad with fresh zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes to bring to my friend’s lake house last summer. Naturally, I left it all in the fridge at home, so I ended up having to eat it all myself (I guess that’s not the worst thing!) I never posted the recipe, but thoughts of running outside and warmer days reminded me of it. I’m sure it would be just as big of a hit in the winter time as it would be in the summer! It would also probably be good served warm. Hmm now I may have to whip up a batch again soon…let me know if you try it out!

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Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad

Adapted from: Joy of Kosher

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb bow-tie pasta (or any other pasta you like!)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 2 yellow squash, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.) Cook pasta until desired doneness. Drain and set aside.

2.) Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, zucchini, and squash and sauté 3 to 5 minutes or until just tender. Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes.

3.) In a large bowl, combine cooked squash and tomatoes with pasta, pesto, and cheeses. Mix well to combine and add salt and pepper, if desired. Serve warm or refrigerate until cool and serve chilled.

Avocado Black Bean Dip

I made this dip over the summer for a party and it was a huge hit! It’s served cold, so just mix everything together and serve with chips. That’s my kind of dip! I figured with football parties coming up I should post an easy dip recipe for when you need to throw something together in a hurry!

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Avocado Black Bean Dip

  • Servings: a huge bowl!
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Adapted from: Burpees to Bubbly

Ingredients:

  • 3 large avocados, chopped
  • 2 containers grape tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bag of sweet corn
  • 6-8 oz crumbled feta
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 limes, squeezed
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • salt to taste

Directions:

1.) Chop your ingredients and place all of them together in a big bowl.

2.) Stir together and place in the fridge to chill for a few hours.

3.) Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips, veggies, etc.