Healthy Banana Bread (that’s 21 Day Fix Approved!)

Healthy Banana Bread that's 21 day fix approved. No sugar. No butter.

Okay, so I really love banana bread. And my mom has this great recipe that is SO not healthy, but man, it’s good. All the buttery, sugary goodness you could ask for. However, since I’m currently doing another round of 21 Day Fix and I all but signed in blood that I would actually be good this time for the whole three weeks, mom’s banana bread was unfortunately off the table.

On Pinterest there were hundreds of recipes but they all called for ingredients that I didn’t have and some appeared more like a science experiment than an actual recipe. I just wanted something simple made with clean ingredients, was that too much to ask for? So, I ended up combining several recipes into one, adding a few remnants from my childhood recipe, and coming up with something that was not only delicious, but I could actually have a few slices without ruining my healthy trend. Enjoy!

Healthy Banana Bread (that’s 21 Day Fix Approved!)

DRY INGREDIENTS:
2 cups of flour of your choice (whole wheat/gluten-free/unbleached AP/almond)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon or apple pie spice

WET INGREDIENTS:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp vanilla

OTHER INGREDIENTS:
3 eggs
2 1/3 cups bananas (about 5 small bananas)

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mashed the bananas and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix well.
4. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients and cream together. Stir in mashed bananas, then beat eggs (I like doing it in the same measuring cup), add, and blend together.
5. Fold wet mixture into flour mixture. Fold gently, being careful not to over mix (or the bread will turn out flat and tough).
6. Lightly grease two 9×5 loaf pans with a little coconut oil. Pour batter into the two loaf pans
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
8. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Shake the pans gently, flip over, and allow loaves to cool on wire rack.

Serving Size: 1 slice
21 Day Fix: 1 yellow, 1/2 purple, 1 tsp.

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Healthy Weekly Dinner Plan | Vol. 1

Healthy Weekly Meal Plan | Vol. 1

I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to come up with what to cook for dinner. Between Pinterest and Facebook, there are are so many recipes that it can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Even if you find a recipe that sounds good, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to turn out that well for you or become another case of Pinterest fail.

For this weekly dinner plan, I wanted to share tried and true recipes from some of my favorite food blogs. But in addition to these being absolutely delicious meals, they are also healthy and build off of the same shopping list.

For breakfast I usually do Shakeology (duh!) and for lunch, it’s a filling salad + protein. For dinner, I’m a big believer of cook-once-use-twice and not repeating flavors more than 2x a week.

Dinner #1- Loaded TexMex Sweet Potatoes
Dinner #2- Spaghetti Squash with Bacon, Spinach, and Goat Cheese
Dinner #3- Stuffed Zucchini
Dinner #4- Salmon Quinoa Burgers
Dinner #5- Zucchini Noodles with Cilantro Lime Chicken
Dessert- Greek Yogurt Chocolate Fudge Pops

Enjoy!

The above images belong to their respective owners. Visit blog links for credit. 

Crustless Spinach and Turkey Bacon Quiche

A lighter version of a brunch favorite, this quiche is packed with turkey bacon, spinach, mushrooms, onions, and topped with cheese. Serve with fruit on the side for a protein-packed breakfast or pair with a mixed greens salad for a filling dinner.

Light Crustless Spinach and Turkey Bacon Quiche

This is my favorite way to have quiche. Now, I love a flaky, buttery crust as much as the next southern gal, but when it comes to quiche, I find myself really preferring crustless. The problem is that without the crust it’s easy to veer into the egg casserole category. But with generous fillings and the right egg consistency, all it takes is baking it in the same pie dish (sans crust) to give that classic quiche look and feel. For fillings, you can’t go wrong with mushrooms and onions, especially when combined with turkey bacon and spinach.

Light Crustless Spinach and Turkey Bacon Quiche 2

 The thing I really love about quiches (besides the whole breakfast for dinner thing) is that they can be so customized. Pretty much anything you can order in an omelette can be made into a quiche, and then some! Bell peppers, asparagus, even Denver-style, broccoli, steak, artichokes, you name it.

For the light version, substitute greek yogurt or low fat milk, and cut down/out the cheese. Of course, I’m one to keep the cheese and do 10 extra sit-ups instead.

For breakfast or brunch, pair with fresh fruit or something sweet, like french toast. For dinner, pair with a mixed greens salad.

Crustless Spinach and Turkey Bacon Quiche
Serves 6
Prep Time     15 min    |      Cook Time     50 min       |       Total Time      1 hr 5 min 
Ingredients
  1. 8 eggs
  2. 1 cup of milk or greek yogurt for light version
  3. 1/2 onion, chopped
  4. 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  5. 4-6 slices of turkey bacon, chopped
  6. 2 cups packed fresh spinach
  7. 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  8. 1 cup shredded cheese, any kind (leave out or reduce for light version)
  9. 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  10. 1/2 tsp parsley
  11. salt & pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 325F. While oven is warming up, chop and slice the vegetables and turkey bacon.
  2. 2. Put a little olive or canola oil to a skillet and add the mushrooms, onions, and turkey bacon. Sauté for 7-8 minutes, or until onions are translucent and bacon cooked through.
  3. 3. Break the eggs into a bowl and add the milk (can also substitute greek yogurt). Add the paprika, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. 4. Spray a piepan or casserole dish with non-stick spray and put onion mixture on bottom. Tear spinach into small pieces and add on top. Stir in all of the parmesan cheese and 3/4 cup of the shredded cheese.
  5. 5. Pour the egg mixture onto everything, making sure it is spread evenly and all layers are saturated. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
  6. 6. Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 50 minutes at 325F until the eggs are set and no longer jiggly. If not done after 50 minutes, bake for an additional five minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Notes
  1. – Quiche makes great leftovers and can be stored in the fridge for up to four days.
  2. – If freezing, use a disposable pie pan and bake for only 40 minutes before removing, allowing to cool, and freezing. To cook, allow to thaw overnight and bake at 350F until done (approx. 20-30 minutes). Keeps up to 2 months in the freezer.
  3. – Whole milk is preferred for the creamy texture it gives. Can also use 1/2 milk and 1/2 sour cream or heavy cream.
  4. – This quiche is designed to be fluffier. For a denser quiche, reduce to 3/4 cup of milk
Calories     231    |      Protein     18g       |       Carbs      5g 

Why I love Shakeology (and why I didn’t at first)

To be completely honest, I have to admit that I haven’t always been a fan of Shakeology.

Shocker, I know.

Why I love Shakeology and didn't at first

Like a lot us, I balked at the price initially. I mean $120 a month was nearly half our food budget! I could get a lot of meals out of $120 (even more if I used coupons) and I just couldn’t justify spending that much on myself. Yet, I knew that my body was craving something better than pancakes and eggs. So I tried making smoothies for myself, and I did a pretty good job, if I do say so. Still, those ingredients added up and I was still missing out on key vitamins and nutrients. Sure, I could have taken a multivitamin, but if I couldn’t remember to take my prenatal pill while pregnant, what would make me start remember to take a multivitamin each day?

When I finally made the choice to get fit, I chose the PiYo Challenge Pack that came with a month’s supply of the Chocolate/Vanilla/Strawberry Shakeology. And I was surprised to find that I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Of course, since they cut down on sugars and use natural and alternative sweeteners, it does have a different taste initially than real sugar. And man, I love real sugar. But guess what? Loads of sugar isn’t good for me or my goal of getting fit. Who knew? So my compromise is a tiny drizzle of honey to offset the taste and I’m good-to-go.

Flavor-wise, I wasn’t as big of a fan of the Strawberry, though some of my team members live and die by a strawberry & fresh berry shake like that pictured above (and I have to admit that it does look good). The vanilla I liked, especially when doing some of the flavor combinations, like cheesecake and pumpkin pie.

But the love of MY life was, of course, the chocolate. In fact, I believe it’s the highest selling Shakeology flavor. After all, who doesn’t like chocolate? My favorite flavor combo, which seems to be the most popular recipe, too, is Chocolate + Peanut Butter + Banana (click for full recipe). Mmmm… just like a frosty.

And now to the price- which is what I originally balked at. At $120 a month ($20+ discount for coaches!!!), it seems really high at first, but when I broke it down, it was really doable. You see, these aren’t supposed to be in addition to all your meals, but in place of a meal. Thus, the meal replacement shake or “the healthiest meal of the day” as they call it. For me, I do the shakes for breakfast, so let’s break down my typical healthy breakfast:

Zucchini – $1.49/lb (0.5 lb) – 75 cents
Eggs – $1.99/dozen (used two) – 33 cents
Cheese – $2.50/8 cups (used 1/3 cup) – 10 cents
Turkey Bacon – $2.99/package (used 3 strips) – 39 cents
Mushrooms – $3.49/lb (used 3 mushrooms) – 50 cents
Onions – $0.99/lb (used 1/4 cup) – 12 cents
Spinach -$2.99/package (used 1 cup) – 37 cents
Whole Grain Toast – $2.50/loaf (used 1 slice) – 20 cents
Orange – $1.25/lb (used 1 orange) – 26 cents

Total: $3.02

So we’re already over three dollars and that doesn’t even add in the morning coffee. Not to mention, while healthy, there’s only a handful of the necessary daily nutrients covered in that breakfast. Our bodies need those nutrients in order to be healthy, to stay mentally focused, and to maintain the metabolism jump-started by exercise. Sure, we could make a green smoothie and pop a multivitamin, and that would definitely be better than the Country Boy breakfast at Cracker Barrel, but how nice it would be to get everyone at once, for the less than the cost of a Starbucks Frappuccino and 1/2 the price of a smoothie at one of those fancy juice bars.

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And with flavors like chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, greenberry, vegan chocolate, vegan tropical strawberry, and the newly-released café latte, I love that I can get my nutrition and decadence together in one glass. Oh, and as a busy mom that 1/2 the time forgets to even eat breakfast, it’s nice to be able to whip something up in less than two minutes. Stick that blender in the dishwasher and head out the door, perpetually five minutes late to everywhere and everything.

title image credit: Shakeology blog

Making Healthy Swaps

Making Healthy Swaps

Never underestimate the power of a smart choice. Or in this case, a smart swap. Here are some of my favorites things to switch out for better and healthier options:

Pasta  —————> Zucchini or Squash, cut in spirals, ribbons, or chunks
Rice —————->  Cauliflower, chopped and pulsed in food processor
Chinese Noodles ——>  Zucchini, cut thinly
Tortillas/Wraps ——->   Lettuce cups
Tortilla Chips ——–>    Romaine hearts (the inner most part)
Sour Cream ———->   Greek Yogurt
Half and Half ———>   Almond Milk
Peanut Butter ———>  PB2
Ground Beef ———->   Lentils (try it!)
Lasagna Noodles ——->  Zucchini, cut in thin, wide slices
Mashed Potatoes ——-> Mashed Cauliflower
Pasta —————->  Spaghetti Squash
Crackers ————->  Cucumber Slices
Dipping Ranch ——–>  Hummus
Potato Chips ———-> Baked Kale
Munchy Snack ——–> Almonds
French Fries ———-> Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Ice Cream ————> Frozen Banana and Strawberry Sorbet
White Rice ———–> Brown Rice or Quinoa
Mayo —————>  Mashed Avocado
Butter ————–>  Coconut Oil

Try all the swaps out and see which ones work for you. Personally, I can’t give up my sour cream and butter, but I’m totally cool with mashed cauliflower and zucchini noodles. And I’m trying to like avocado, I promise. My husband would be so happy if I finally liked those disgusting, mushy, green things. For now, I’ll use the teeniest tiniest bit of mayo and call it good.

title image credit: Tracy Benjamin

Yes, You CAN Eat Healthy on a Budget

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. In fact, you can eat healthy, even organic, while on a budget. We have in our minds this idea that eating healthy costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars, picturing $800 and $1000 a month grocery bills. And yes, you could go nuts and buy $8 apiece heirloom tomatoes or you could make smart, careful choices, and feed your family good, clean, wholesome (delicious!) food without blowing your budget every single month.

Yes, You CAN Eat Healthy on a Budget

Believe it or not, our monthly grocery budget is less than $300. Some months I’m really on top of my game and manage to get it under $200, and then we use the extra to throw at our debt or have a family fun splurge. (Who am I kidding? It always goes to family fun splurge)

How? No, I’m not one of those crazy coupon clippers. Mostly because Alaska’s newspapers don’t carry those wonderful, thick stack of coupons on Sundays… or any days. But, my favorite store, Fred Meyer’s, has their own store coupons + manufacturer’s coupons, too. And bonus points that they have them all in an app so no clipping required!

I’ve learned my local stores, who carries what for the best regular price, as well as their sale and markdown trends. For example, Fred Meyer marks down their produce, even organic, between 10am and 1pm, so going at 11am seems to be the perfect time. Eggs, including organic, are marked down every three weeks or so, milk less often, but the almond milk goes on sale monthly.

Meanwhile, across the street, Carrs has meat on sale at least every other day. Pork, chicken, beef, seafood, you name it. I can usually grab chicken for $1.25 or less a pound and stock up. Our two chest freezers are so full right now that I’m “forbidden” from buying any more meat. But it’s so difficult to be good when the prices are low!

Likewise, farmers markets are a great source of local, fresh produce and resources. Often held seasonly (though some run year-round) you can good deals on some pretty amazing produce all the while supporting the local economy and small farms. I can get a 14-inch, thick zucchini for $5. You can’t beat that. (And check out my list of smart swaps to find out what to do with all that zucchini)

Take this next week’s trip to the grocery store to really study their prices, sales, and trends. Don’t be afraid to ask the store associate when things go on sale or what day has the freshest products (which would last longer back at home). Make a list of all your favorite products and ingredients, and shop around for the best price, keeping in mind that if you have to drive 30 miles out of the way to save $1, it’s probably not worth it. Combine that trip with other errands to make sure you actually save money in the long run.

It really is possible to eat healthy, clean food while on a budget. And both you and your wallet will feel better for it!

title image credit: Karin Dalziel

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Shakeology Recipe

This right here is my favorite recipe for protein shakes. Actually, to be completely honest, it’s the ONLY recipe that I like. Yes, I’m picky when it comes to health shakes, which is strange because I’ve never really been a picky eater. When you’re married to an Eskimo who regularly enjoys dishes like “Fish Head Soup” and paired with a Southern upbringing that dictates that you eat whatever is set in front of you, pickiness just isn’t an issue. Yet, when it comes to health shakes, suddenly I am acutely aware of texture and that weird aftertaste left by artificial sweeteners. It doesn’t bother most people, but it does me for some odd reason. But a little extra drizzle of honey balances that out just fine.

This recipe is seriously delicious and is my “reward” for working out. Chocolate milkshake for breakfast? Yes, please!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Shakeology Recipe

PEANUT BUTTER & CHOCOLATE PROTEIN SHAKE RECIPE

Ingredients:

1 heaping scoop of chocolate Shakeology (can use vanilla or cafe latte and add cocoa powder to taste)
8oz of almond milk or 2% milk
1 banana
2 tsp of peanut butter or peanut butter powder or almond butter (can add more to taste)
Dash of Cinnamon
Handful of ice cubes

Instructions:

1. Place milk, chocolate protein mix, banana, peanut butter, and cinnamon in a blender

2. Blend until smooth (usually 30 seconds), scraping sides as needed

3. Add handful of ice to reach desired constancy.

Notes:

– More ice = a thicker shake. If you add too much ice and the shake is too thick, add more milk to thin out.

– Feel free to add more banana and peanut butter for more flavor. I actually enjoy 1.5 bananas, frozen in advance for a creamier texture.

Makes 1.5 servings (I usually make enough to share with the kids or save the extra portion