Nutri-Savvy Granola base — made with yogurt

Okay folks, I have for you a crunchy granola base that is low in refined sugars and definitely a good way to use a healthy ingredient you may already have in your fridge – Greek plain nonfat Yogurt. The yogurt brands I enjoy (both for texture and taste, include  Siggi’s Icelandic-style and Fage Strained. These are both thick, dense and definitely work well alone (great as a substitute for sour cream), in combos, and with some of my fav new recipes, including this one.

And BTW: If you are local to me (in the Los Angeles area), I have Siggi’s yogurt coupons — so you can try this great yogurt. : )

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Granola made w yogurt

Nutri-Savvy Crunchy Granola Base w/ Yogurt

Makes 8 (1/3 cup) servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp Smart Balance Light
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, plain, non fat (I prefer thickened or strained varieties)
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar (you can you use a packet of Stevia if you prefer)
  • 1 pinch sea salt (salt actually enhances the sweetness in a dish)
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla – pure extract
  • 1/2 tsp (or to taste) Cinnamon
  • 2 cups of Oats, raw

Directions: Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a large brownie sheet with a Silpat or baking liner (even foil will work). Mix slightly melted Smart Balance with yogurt, honey, brown sugar(or stevia), sea salt, vanilla and cinnamon. Then add in oats and coat evenly. Spread out into prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes. Turn granola mixture to heat each side evenly and bake another 5- 10 minutes until golden. Turn off oven and leave to continue to baking to desired crispness. Optional Add-in’s: Some great add-in’s for this Granola Base include nuts (pistachios, walnuts, almonds… to name a few) and dried chopped fruits (try: dried apples – crumbled or Freeze-dried fruits, such as raspberries or if you prefer, use a couple Tablespoons of raisins, currants or dried cranberries). Enjoy with “milk”, alone as a crunchy snack or on top of your favorite dishes, such as this Spiced Apple Overnight Oatmeal – recipe compliments of Siggis. Or even for crunchy topping to your yogurt Parfaits. siggis and berries

Q1: What are some of your favorite Granola flavors? (i.e.: Apple Cinnamon, Pistachio Cranberry, Coconut Almond…) Q2:What nuts/seeds and/or dried fruits would you use to add some Pizzazz to your Granola base??

Spiced Apple Overnight Oats w/ yogurt and chia #siggisambassador

I’m delighted to be a Siggi’s Ambassador. From time to time you’ll be seeing my posts with the delicious recipes provided / inspired by the Siggis yogurt folks. My latest breakfast was their Spiced Apple Overnight Oats. So easy to make.

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Nutri-Savvy Approved Recipe!

To create this easy, overnight oats treat, I recycled a jam jar to mix ingredients and refrigerate. Then I took the jar on-the-go to enjoy after my yoga class. However, when you have time to enjoy it at home – it looks quite delectable in this plating below. I topped it with some chopped apples and my homemade granola.

Siggis Oatmeal Chia dish

 

The Recipe: It’s simple — and all whole foods. I simply mixed together 1/2 cup raw oats (I used a blend of oats, rye mixture…from the bulk bin), 1 tsp chia, 1/3 cup Siggi’s non fat plain yogurt (if you live in my ‘hood, just ask — I’ve got some Siggi’s yogurt coupons for you), 1/3 cup grated apples, topped with some apple chunks and my own homemade granola (This time I substituted half the fat for protein-rich yogurt – still delish — STAY TUNED for my NEW Granola Base recipe).

Simply combine all the ingredients into a tupperware or jar, seal and refrigerate. Then take out next morning and enjoy a delightful breakfast or snack you can enjoy at home or take on-the-go!

 

ENJOY! : )

Just in time for Valentines’ Day!

These cupcakes are not exactly a health food. However, I’ve made them low in fat, higher in protein and still quite tasty. Just ask my biggest critics – my 6 year old twin girls. : )

Valentines Cupcakes 10g protein

Adding more protein may be a challenge when working with baked treats. But I thought I’d give it a go. I tried one batch using 6 egg whites (plenty of protein) but this trial worked out more like a sweet Yorkshire pudding – still quite yummy, but not what I was intending.

I wanted a light, fluffy yellow cake, so I went back to my mixing bowl.  I started again, by substituting some of the fat for Greek yogurt, plain, nonfat (which does add in some protein to these delicious treats) and some protein powder. I would have loved to have tested a bean recipe, but alas, I didn’t have Cannellini bean (only kidney beans which would have turned my project into a purplish thing) and I really was aiming toward a light, fluffy, yellow cake taste/mouthfeel. See recipe below.

Keep in mind this is a treat. I make no promises of low sugar quantity. (I was aiming more toward low in fat and higher in protein.) But every now and then, I like a sugary treat. I just keep it in moderation and on occasion. And what better time to enjoy than Valentines’ Day. : )

No “Food Police” here. You can certainly Have Your Cake and Eat it, Too (Just remember moderation and on occasion).

Low-fat Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients for Cupcake:

  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt, plain, non fat (I used Chobani)
  • 1/3 cup Powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup Smart Balance Light
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup Pamela’s Gluten Free Artisan Flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 scoops Vanilla Protein Powder (120 cal, 24g protein)

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup Low Fat Cream Cheese
  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp of Soymilk (as needed)
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter (optional)
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

Grease or line muffin tins. Recipe makes 6 regular sized cupcakes or 12 mini cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Start with 1/3 cup Greek yogurt. Add in 1/3 cup powdered sugar and blend well. Follow with 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup lightly softened Smart Balance Light, an egg and a tsp of Pure Vanilla Extract and blend until creamy. Then I added  my dry mixture  1/2 cup Pamela’s Gluten Free Artisan Flour, 2 scoops Vanilla Protein Powder (120 cal, 24g protein) and 1/2 tsp baking soda. Bake for approx. 20 minutes or until fully risen and tops slightly browned. When cooked. Whip up all frosting ingredients in electric mixer until fluffy. Frost – using 1-2 Tbsp per muffin, depending on size (mini or regular).

Here is the Nutritional Analysis for 1 mini muffin, unfrosted.
Cal 87, Fat 2g, Sodium 65mg, Carb 11g, Sugars 7g, Fiber 1g, Protein 5g

Nutritional Analysis for the Frosting (This is for 1 Tbsp since I calculated for mini cupcakes above):
Cal 35, Fat 1g, Sodium 41, Carb 5g, Sugars 5g, Fiber 0g, Protein 0g.

Add both together and you’ve got a  treat for less than 150 cal, a sodium content just over 100mg and one that is complete with 5g protein. How’s that for a sweet treat with a little more protein. Wanna regular size treat – well doubling it up, this one would be close to 250 calories with 10g protein. I’ve seen frosted cupcakes on the market that are much closer to 500 calories. And besides this has no added fillers, chemicals, or artificial flavoring. BTW: The pink sprinkles are made with confectioners sugar and beet dye – very few ingredients (no artificial colorings or weird additives).

 

Happy Valentines Day!

ENJOY : )

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“Sour Cream” Coffee Cake w/ Chobani

 

I like adding Chobani Greek yogurt (plain, non fat) into my dishes/treats because it’s a great way to add in some heart-healthy protein, probiotics, as well as replace fats. I find it best when I replace 1/2 to 3/4 of the fat in the original recipe. In fact, I’ve used Chobani to replace some fat in my Nutri-Savvy Granola (ask me for my recipe), my healthy yogurt coleslaw dressing and in my White Frosting Glaze (in place of the butter) for my girls gingerbread cookies (stay tuned for future blog post).

“Sour Cream” Coffee Cake Muffins w/ Chobani

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NS fruit logo 3for the cake:

  • 1/3 cup Chobani Greek yogurt, plain, non fat
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup Butter or Butter spread (I used Smart Balance, Light)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

for the topping:

  • 1/4 cup pecans (or walnut halves)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp pure cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

optional: 

  • Drizzle baked cupcakes with 1 Tablespoon of Maple syrup
    or 1 Tbsp of my Chobani White Frosting Glaze (recipe to come).

directions:

Grease and flour a muffin tin. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Cream butter and sugars. Add yogurt, egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl mix flour, almond meal, baking soda and cinnamon. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir well. Equally divide batter into greased/floured muffin tin to make 6 muffins. Make the topping: In a food processor grind sugars and pecans. Mix in cinnamon. Equally divide topping onto each muffin. (About 1 Tbsp for each.) Bake for approx. 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Optional: Drizzle with maple syrup or my Chobani White Frosting glaze for a little more sweetness. Enjoy!

Below are pics of my Mother-in-Law and daughter Ailish enjoying my “Sour Cream” Coffee Cake Muffins w/ Chobani:

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Restoration, Relaxation, Rejuvenation

Sometimes we get so caught up with our lives, we don’t take a moment to breathe, let alone notice when we need a little break. I admit, I’ve been quite busy keeping up with my active lifestyle schedule and my responsibilities at home and with my girls that I haven’t really taken a moment to acknowledge my own body’s subtle cues. So today was the day, something said “STOP” and I had to listen. My body’s way of telling me – “Tt’s time to give yourself  a break (and while you’re at it, here’s some inflammation/pain to deal with — lol!).”

I had stayed up late last night, rushing to finish a deadline project, I barely got any sleep as I had to wake up by 7 am to get my kids ready for school. Feeling sluggish, tired (and bloated – albeit not from too much food/drink, but rather something that occurs sometimes near my monthly cycle). I sat crossed legged on my bed and pulled one girl forward to brush her hair and then the other and then “SNAP” … ouch! I had pulled a muscle in my mid-lower back. Yikes. Figured not wise to head off to the gym today, but didn’t want to take this lying down, either.

I managed to get the kids to school, took some pain meds, applied Arnica gell and wore an icepack. Then resigned to a nice warm bath. Was feeling good enough by then to do some mild pain-relieving yoga exercises at home (Thank G-d for YouTube! – some great yoga instructional videos).Then I started some menu-development for my next work project.

I decided to fix a little anti-inflammatory snack and it came out tasty! My anti-inflammatory “Baked apple” with herbs/spices – a sweet treat with a kick and a sugar-free one, too!

Take some time to relax, and enjoy some tea with  my detoxifying Apple Snack  below.

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Relax with a hot cup of anti-inflammatory soothing tea. Tumeric is a natural anti-inflammatory. It’s easy enough to put a pinch in your herbal tea or hot water w/ lemon. I recently found this wonderful blend from Republic of Tea – and it suits me just fine. This one is called Biodynamic Organic Turmeric Cinnamon. (And BTW: The Cardamon Cinnamon is delightful, too!)

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And now for my detoxifying Apple Snack treat:

apple blend antiinflammatory

So take a break and enjoy this anti-inflammatory combination: A treat your tastebuds will love and your body will thank you for.

 

The Anti-inflammatory Rejuvenating Combo:

  • Fresh green apple
  • Cinnamon
  • Tumeric
  • Ginger
  • Flax
  • Red pepper flakes

 

 

Fresh fruit possesses many antioxidants, is low in calories, a source of fiber — which makes it an “anti-inflammatory food”, To add to that I seasoned it with cinnamon to liven the natural sweetness of the apple (and did you know Cinnamon’s “cinnamaldehyde” inhibits production of inflammatory compounds –– which makes it anti-inflammatory too. A bit of ginger and turmeric (both notable as anti-inflammatory agents) and lastly some ground flax (which contains the wonderfully, anti-inflammatory omega-3’s) and a dash of red pepper flakes for a kick! There – voila! My anti-inflammatory combo is delicious and heart-healthy!

Note: My oven died so I washed, and sliced my green apple, placed in a microwave safe bowl with a little water, covered, and cooked it for just 3 minutes! Voila – fast and easy for a delightful treat you can enjoy on it’s own or season to your taste.

Q1: Got an anti-inflammatory drink or combo to share?

Q2: What do you do to Restore, Relax and Rejuvenate?

Cranberry Pecan Christmas Cookies

Here’s to a new baking hybrid! I call them “Cookie-roons” because they are a cross between cookie and macaroon. I developed these with the holiday season in mind. Cranberries and pecans were a staple at our Thanksgiving table (4 kinds of cranberry sauces —including agrodulce chutney and cran-orange relish —  and part of our traditional tri-bread, pecan, apple, sausage stuffing) and definitely common seasonal additions to holiday eats & treats. So here are my Cranberry Pecan Christmas Cookies (recipe below). Enjoy!NS fruit logo 3

Cran Pecan Christmas Cookies

A delicious twist between cookie and macaroon.

Makes approx. 22 cookies

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 4 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt plain nonfat
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened finely ground coconut (I used Bobs Red Mill)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Cream sugars, butter and yogurt, add egg and blend well. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients (flour and baking soda and pinch of salt). Then blend in coconut, dried cranberries and pecans. Scoop into a 1# mini scoop or a Leveled Tablespoonful 2 inches apart onto a cookie sheet. Bake until lightly golden brown for about 10 minutes. Optional: Dust with powdered sugar. Note: The coconut makes this goldenly delicious.

MMMmmm Chocolate Chip Cookies (and a bit healthier, too!)

What makes a great Chocolate Chip cookie? Well, it’s having a bit of chocolate and nuts in every bite. The nutty, chocolatey combination makes my taste-buds sing! With Christmas around the corner, a baked treat is a must — and when it comes to baking, I aim to keep the great flavor and texture using half the butter and a lot less of the sugar. And always try to sneak in a secret, healthy ingredient.

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These cookies are dense, chewy with plenty of chocolate and nuttiness to keep your taste-buds singing. Half the butter, half the sugar and yet, still truly delish!!

 

A while ago a friend of mine gave me this no-brainer, no-fail chocolate chip cookie recipe – the base is basically 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup butter, an egg, 1/2 tsp baking soda and a cup of flour.

Her key to a successful chocolate chip cookie was adding  in a bunch of chocolate chips and walnuts (as much as you could possibly cram in the mixture) and baking it for just 10 minutes (no more because it continues to cook even out of the oven). Always delish and always a hit at every potluck. : )

A Healthier Chocolate Chip CookieNS fruit logo 3

Today I like to keep my treats lower in fat and/or sugar and add in ingredients that will have health value. My secret ingredient for this chocolate chip cookie recipe is wheat germ. It replaces 1/2 cup white sugar well as it helps with the texture and has a natural mild sweetness – and only 4 g sugar per 1/2 cup. It is also is a great source of Vitamin E and Folic acid.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup butter, unsalted
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter, nutty, all natural (no additives – just peanuts & salt) – YES, crunchy (not smooth) because it adds some textural nuttiness in addition to the flavor (check out the nutritional benefits of natural peanut butter by clicking on the link)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Cream the brown sugar, wheat sugar, butter and peanut butter. Mix in the egg until well blended. Add flour and baking soda. Then mix in water. Lastly mix in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonful 2″ apart on a lined or lightly greased (use cooking spray) cookie sheet. Slightly flatten each (and pinch a little to create chunkier surface for visual appeal, if you like). Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown and deliciously chewy. Enjoy!!

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For another healthier holiday treat:
Check out my Sugar Plum Pears recipe in The Times Union