Halloween Party Chow

Halloween the holiday in itself is a treat, but this quick snack is a great addition and would be perfect for a holiday party or a snack to munch on during Halloween movie night. 

Halloween Party Chow
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Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 9-ounce Rice Chex Cereal
  2. 1½ semi-sweet chocolate chips
  3. ¼ cup unsalted butter
  4. ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. ¾ cup powdered sugar
  7. ¾ cup brownie mix
  8. 1½ cups candy corn
  9. 1 cup Reese's Pieces
  10. 1½ cups oreos, chopped into pieces
  11. 1½ cups mini pretzels, slightly crushed
Instructions
  1. Pour Rice Chex into a large bowl and momentarily set aside.
  2. Using a medium-size microwaveable bowl add chocolate chips, butter and peanut butter. Microwave 30 seconds, stir and continue to repeat process another two times (approximately 90 seconds) or until everything has melted and stirs smooth. Add vanilla.
  3. Pour chocolate mix overtop chex cereal, gently stirring as not to crush cereal. Using two gallon sized ziplock bags, pour half of the chocolate covered chex into each. Add the powdered sugar to one bag and the brownie mix to the other. Shake bags well so that the dry mixtures have coated the cereal well.
  4. Lay out a large sheet of parchment paper on a countertop. Pour out chex mix and allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes so that the chocolate can harden on the cereal. In the meantime, use a large bowl to combine the candy corn, Reese's Pieces, oreos and pretzels. Add chex to the large bowl and stir well.
  5. Store in an air-tight container in fridge or ziplock bags.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Zucchini Bread

With fall approaching, I’m getting the bug to bake more. I’m not sure why I’ve always associated baking breads with fall time. Maybe because of the recipes for all things pumpkins. Maybe because the thought of a warm piece of banana bread with a cup of coffee on a cold morning sounds incredibly appealing.

My SIL gave us two huge zucchinis from her garden: one I plan on using for dinner tonight and the other I baked two zucchini breads out of. Thankfully zucchini bread is favored in this household, even by the pickiest eater on the planet. And since I can’t get everyone on board with the whole white wheat or almond flour, I can make one “family friendly” and one healthy so that everyone happily enjoy a piece guilt free. Just alternate the flour listed in the recipe below to one that suits you best.

Zucchini Bread
Yields 2
This recipe is for two loaves of delicious zucchini bread.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups zucchini, peeled and grated
  2. 3 eggs
  3. 1 cup oil
  4. 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  5. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  6. ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  7. 1 teaspoon soda
  8. 3 teaspoon cinnamon
  9. 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two loaf pans and set aside.
  2. Using a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients, whisking well. Divide among loaf pans and bake for 1 hour, or until top is browned and fully cooked through.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Banana Protein Power Bites

Ever get tired of the store bought protein bars? Some are good and some are really bad. I used to buy a few and store them in the glove department for when I was on the move; you know, just incase I got hungry mid-day and the only thing nearby was something that would probably take me an hour or more to work off later in the day. 

These days I prefer to see firsthand what is in the food I eat. I’ve noticed I am a lot less fatigued since I quit the fast meal, heavily processed stuff. These little protein bites are perfect to make if you need a quick recipe or just want something different than fruit/veggies for a snack. 

I’ve made some no bake protein balls before and they went pretty quick. This time I added banana to the mix to give a little more moisture for the oats. They weren’t as firm as the previous recipe without banana, but they held up just as well with taste. Banana, chocolate and peanut butter are a recipe match made in heaven if you ask me.

 

Banana Protein Power Bites
Yields 12
Pretty incredible little ball of protein for those who enjoy bananas, oats and peanut butter.
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. ¼ cup natural creamy peanut butter
  2. ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  3. very ripe banana, mashed
  4. ½ teaspoon chia seeds
  5. ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  6. 1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Mash your ripe banana in a small bowl using a whisk.
  2. Add all ingredients to a medium size bowl. Mix well, either with a wooden spatula or clean hands. Using a tablespoon to scoop, roll into individual ball shapes and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Add cookie sheet to fridge for at least an hour to firm. Replace protein balls into a plastic airtight container and store in fridge.
Notes
  1. This recipe can be doubled.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Pumpkin Donuts

 

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The best pumpkin donut I have ever tasted!

Baked Pumpkin Donuts
Yields 18
Krispy Kreme Pumpkin Spice Donuts will be a distant memory after you try your hand at making your own pumpkin donuts!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1½ cup puree Pumpkin
  2. 3 large eggs
  3. ½ cup vegetable oil
  4. 1½ cup granulated sugar
  5. 1¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 1½ teaspoon salt
  7. 1½ teaspoon baking powder
  8. 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
Buttermilk Icing
  1. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  2. 2 cups confectioners sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  4. 1 tablespoon whole milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a donut pan. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium size bowl add pumpkin, eggs, oil, granulated sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Mix well until completely combined. Slowly add flour, mixing well.
  3. Fill each donut til it is ¾ filled and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean. Remove each donut gently using a fork and place onto a cooling rack.
  4. While donuts are cooling off, add butter into a small size saucepan over med-high heat. Stir well, using a wooden spoon if able. Remove from heat when butter has melted and pour into a medium size baking bowl. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Stir well.
  5. If donuts are cool enough to handle, dip the top carefully into icing mix and return to the cooling rack. The glaze will harden at a generous speed.
Notes
  1. To maintain a cleaner space - place a piece of parchment paper underneath cooling rack to catch donut icing when it drips.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Ranch-Style Cobb Salad

 

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If you’re like me, you’ve gone through your Pinterest feed for what feels like a gazillion times looking for some sort of “different” kind of lunch to prepare for the week. I often like to base my mid-day meals around salads or something close to, as lunch is when I like to get the majority of my greens and vegetables intake. 

With today being Labor Day, the kids being home from school and a local Arts Festival going on; I wanted to get my grocery shopping done early yesterday so that I could successfully complete all my Sunday chores today and not having some spill over into the first of the week and delay any fun or relaxation for today. I started my meal-plan planning extra early because so. (Remember… fail to plan, plan to fail!) – and while things didn’t go as planned (one child is sick), my food was still ready today so I didn’t have to worry about screwing up on my new dietary!

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I don’t feel like I get my share of enough egg-protein, or at least I don’t feel like I have lately. So when I opened my laptop this morning I made sure to search for a recipe that would require at least one egg or more. I can always make the staple recipe for egg salad; I could prepare it blind-folded, but I wanted something that had a little more taste to it. One where by Tuesday afternoon, I’m already sure that come Wednesday’s lunch time I will be wanting anything BUT what I’ve already got prepared. And so I ran across this recipe for a Cobb Egg Salad from Lemon Tree Dwelling that had one key ingredient that won me over – dry ranch dressing mix. I like to use my dry ranch with yogurt for a healthier take on ranch dressing for dipping some veggie sticks in. If you love ranch, you can’t really go wrong with this dressing mix.

Another great thing about egg salad is how quickly you can prep it. Sure, if you’re not much of an hard-boiled egg peeler it can take *some* time, but I promise with practice and correct technique you’ll get the knack of doing it. Afterall, it took me months but I finally got it and I can proudly say that today I peeled 6 eggs in under 10 minutes. That’s an accomplishment! The rest of the ingredients though – super easy to assemble and throw into a bowl. Almost too easy. 

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Ranch-Style Cobb Salad
Serves 3
If egg salad and cobb salad were to meet in an alley, and egg happened to have brought ranch with him and cobb, arugula lettuce - this would be the outcome. Enjoy this recipe with rye crackers, as a salad or on a sandwich. Perfect for both parties and for meal-prepped lunches for the week.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Ingredients
  1. 6 large eggs, hard boiled and peeled
  2. 4 pieces cooked turkey bacon, crumbled into small pieces
  3. 4 tablespoons lite mayonnaise
  4. ½ dry ranch dressing mix
  5. ¼ cup grape tomatoes, diced
  6. ¼ cup celery, diced small
  7. ¼ teaspoon green onions, sliced thin
  8. ¼ cup chopped arugula lettuce
  9. ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Hard-boil your eggs; bringing your pot of water and eggs to a raging boil over medium-high heat. When this has happened, turn off heat and cover pot with a lid allowing to sit for 12 minutes. Run cold water over eggs before attempting to peel. After eggs have been peeled, chop into small pieces.
  2. Using a large mixing bowl add eggs, bacon, tomatoes, arugula and cheese. Next add mayonnaise and dry ranch dressing mix, stirring gently but combining well. Serve or store in a tight-closed container for later.
Notes
  1. Original recipe can be found at Lemon Tree Dwelling (www.lemontreedwelling.com) - I added a few extra vegetables, etc of my own to their own delicious recipe.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Quick and Easy Pizza Pinwheels

I know a lot may not agree with me on this, but I think pizza gets boring if you don’t do a variety. We’ve done regular pizza dough, flatbreads, pita breads, whole wheat muffins, strombolis. stromboli. Something new was needed and quick. Otherwise it was going to be a week without pizza of any sort. That just doesn’t feel right.

pizzapinwheels

Introducing Pizza Pinwheels! They’re cute, they’re small and you can eat them in many different ways other than with just strictly sauce and cheese. But for our first try, we’re going to do just that. Experience always works best in small steps, or in this case little ingredients.

If you have a small kid, or large grownup who just LOVES pepperoni pizza and wont eat anything but pepperoni pizza – tell them that unless you have mini-pepperonis on hand or they want to help cut large pepperonis into small squares; tonight they’re having just cheese.

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Assembling them was just as I’ve assembled strombolis in the past, only instead of letting them cook through and then cut; I tightly rolled up the dough and stuck it in the fridge for a good 20 minutes. This allowed the dough to harden slightly making it a little easier to cut into small “pinwheel shapes,” or “cinnamon roll pizzas.” Just make sure that when you’re adding your sauce, you use a LIGHT amount. Thick sauce will literally seep through your dough and not only will it be a mess, but it’ll make cutting your pinwheels not so easy. Been there, done that.

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So good for such an easy little recipe! I think that not only will I repeat this recipe only with more ingredients, but these would be a great after-school or summer day snack. No more frozen pizza rolls!

Pizza Pinwheels
Serves 6
Need a different try as far as pizza goes? Try this Pizza Pinwheel recipe. They're easy to create, cook fast and are family friendly. Great for an afterschool snack or appetizer side-dish at a party.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Ingredients
  1. one 11-ounce tube of refrigerated Pillsbury french loaf
  2. pizza sauce
  3. 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly grease and set aside.
  3. Using a sheet of parchment paper, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour overtop. Spread refrigerated french loaf using hands and a roller until dough is flat and resembles a equal-sided rectangle.
  4. Using a spoon, spread pizza sauce lightly and evenly; leaving half an inch from the ends. Set remaining sauce aside.
  5. Add shredded cheese, spreading evenly throughout dough. Once finished, begin to tightly roll dough up, lengthwise. When finished, place in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to allow to harden. In the meantime, add remaining pizza sauce to a small saucepan and simmer.
  6. When dough seems slightly hardened, slice through. Add each to well-greased baking sheet, 1 inch apart. Bake for 12 minutes. Serve with warm pizza sauce for dipping.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Customize your popcorn!

cinnacorn Move over, plain buttery popcorn!

Popcorn is mostly associated with movies and sporting events, but can be an enjoyable light snack at anytime in the day depending on the kind of popcorn you have and the kind of toppings you add. Next time you’re in the mood for popcorn, try it one of these ways:

Healthier Popcorn Brands:
Smart Balance Light Butter
Newman’s Own Organics Pop’s Corn, Light Butter
Quinn Popcorn Olive Oil & Herbs
Jolly Time Healthy Pop Butter
Black Jewell Kettle

Optional Popcorn Toppings:
Dark 85% Chocolate: Simply place two squares of chocolate in a microwavable bowl and microwave for under a minute. Use a spoon to break up chocolate and drizzle overtop popcorn. Add nuts as well, if desired. 

Cinnamon: It works on just about everything, including popcorn. Sprinkle a light helping overtop for some cinnamon flavor.

Cool Ranch: Those dry packets of dressing have so much more use to them other than just for salads. Ranch fan? Use half a tablespoon of dry ranch dressing to sprinkle over your popcorn to create a tangy taste.

Buffalo Sauce: Add 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon buffalo sauce in a microwavable bowl, combining well. Microwave slightly and immediately drizzle overtop popcorn. 

Smoked Paprika and Olive Oil: Adding a slight amount of olive oil and sprinkling paprika adds a little bit of kick to your popcorn.

Homemade Maple Granola

homemadegranola
I like granola. I like that it’s convenient for those week days when your morning is rushed and you don’t want to wait in the long line at Starbucks for a muffin. I also like that it doesn’t take a chef in the kitchen to make a batch of it. Infact, you really don’t need to have any kitchen skills; it’s pretty foolproof. You just need a few ingredients and an oven. 

homemadegranola1Some like it plain. 

Granola is just like most other recipes; you can tweak the ingredients to your liking or to what you already have in the pantry. I like to add a little flavor to mine by using dried up fruit. Both cherries, cranberries, bananas and apple chips do wonders for a batch of granola. If you’re not the fruit-kind, simply sprinkle some cinnamon ontop to add a little more.

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Some like it with a little extra sweet flavor

 

Homemade Maple Granola
Easy to make granola that goes great with a side of yogurt or as a mid-day snack.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  2. ½ cup pecans, shopped
  3. ½ cup almonds, chopped
  4. 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  6. ½ teaspoon sea salt
  7. ½ stick of unsalted butter
  8. ½ cup pure maple syrup
  9. ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  10. handful of dried cranberries
  11. handful of dried cherries, optional
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 300. Place parchment paper onto a cookie sheet.
  2. Combine old-fashioned oats, pecans, almonds, dark brown sugar, cinnamon and sea salt in a large bowl. Mix well.
  3. Melt unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Swoosh that pan around a bit, it helps the butter melt a little faster. Remove from heat and pour into a small bowl. Add maple syrup and vanilla extract. Whisk well.
  4. Pour butter mixture into bowl of dry ingredients. Stir well until all dry ingredients are covered and layer thinly on parchment paper covered cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes, or until granola is golden brown. Make sure you stir granola around every 10-15 minutes.
  6. Add dried cranberries after removing granola from oven and letting cool off slightly. Package when granola is completely cooled off.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Buffalo Chicken Nachos

buffalochickennachos

There’s something about buffalo chicken and sports events. Most of the time when I do a search for a new and delicious snack or appetizer to enjoy during some sort of tournament game, buffalo chicken is the top pick. We’ve done Buffalo Chicken Dip for years and it’s never disappointed, but it was time to try an alternative way of using buffalo chicken. Coincidentally enough while going through my inbox this weekend, I came across Two Peas and Their Pod’s weekly meal plan that I subscribe to and they had a buffalo chicken recipe I’ve never tried nor seen before. The ingredients were mostly staple items I already had in the fridge and it was a quick bake; always a favorite on the weekend!

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You really can’t go wrong with Franks Hot Sauce and blue cheese dressing, so there’s really no way of messing this appetizer up. The original recipe suggested using Blue Corn Tortilla Chips, but my husband isn’t too keen on those and if I bought both a bag of those and a bag of regular corn tortilla chips, I may get myself in trouble later with the blue chips. That tends to happen if there’s shredded cheese, chips, and me in a room) 

And because the NCAA National Championship game happens shortly after tonight’s games, I definitely get to make these again. No complaints about that here.

You can get the recipe here

The Importance of Meal-Planning and Meal-Prep.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” I often wonder if the individual who thought it up was trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Healthy is not easy. There’s several components that go into the equation when it comes to trying to reroute your daily diet into something that your body will appreciate more than those greasy drive-through french fries. The most important components? Meal-Planning and Meal-Prep. Lets face it though. Not everyone loves meal-planning and not everyone loves cooking. I think you have to enjoy both in order to have a deep and committed relationship with planning a menu and looking forward to prepping food. And while meal planning can be time-consuming and meal-prep, a process (think 2-4 hours spent in your kitchen on a Sunday morning) they’re also the key to a successful healthy lifestyle.
foodprep

When I started out on my journey towards becoming more fit and healthy one year ago, I actually looked forward to the process of meal-prep. I was following an e-guide program that lasted 28 days and came with an already scheduled meal-plan for the week, grocery list to check off, which foods I was prepping on what day and what my workout was. Everything is easier when simply laid out for you. But doing so, this taught me how to continue making healthy choices when the program was over. I just had to follow two rules

1. Allow yourself 5 meals a day. That’s right. FIVE!:

Now before you get all bug-eyed, hear me out. I understand you’re either looking to lose weight or maintain. Eating 5 meals a day isn’t going to contribute to weight gain if you’re eating correctly and not just anything and everything in the fridge or pantry – in fact, 5 meals allows your body to use energy stores and burn more fat.

The easiest and most foul-proof way to do it is to fit one small snack in after breakfast and another after lunch. This leaves less need to over-indulge at dinner and less chance of finding your hand in the chip bag. That’s right – no more Doritos fingers!

2. Prep twice a week.

Yes, my friends. When I say twice a week, I mean you will be eating left-overs. I’m sure when you were younger the thought of eating last night’s dinner again for dinner tonight gave you the hebeegeebees. Not anymore! Left-overs are now your body’s best friend. Please don’t imagine microwaving frozen pizza. That’s not the kind of left-overs I meant.

It’s a lot more easier for you to schedule repetitive meals for a few days. This calls for less overall prepping and saves you some cash at the grocery store. It also rids you of that “what should I cook for dinner tonight?” headache. I, personally, meal-prep on Sunday and Wednesday. That means Monday-Wednesday I eat the same breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, and dinner. Thursday-Saturday, same thing. Sunday is my exception day. I try to maintain healthy choices, but don’t have a set plan.

Seems easy enough, right? Everything is as enjoyable as you allow it to be. Prep and dice your vegetables while listening to music or use Pinterest to find healthy alternatives to your favorite foods. And don’t forget the tupperware! Not only are you going to need plenty of it, but you get to pick some out in all shapes and sizes. The cute little dressing ones are my favorite!

 

(Pictured above is ingredients for Chorizo Breakfast Burrito)