Sunday, 31 August 2014

Pear & Honey Ricotta Bread

What to do with leftover ricotta cheese?  After making Slow Cooker Lasagna the other day, I was left with almost a pound of ricotta in my fridge.  I googled cheesecake recipes, cheese dips, etc., but nothing worked with the ingredients I had on hand, and I really didn't need an entire cheesecake for myself!  Finally, the answer came to me, and I came up with this bread recipe.  A fluffy loaf with a hint of cheesecake flavour was certainly a great addition to my list of homemade breads and muffins.
For this, I used a pear, but you can use apples instead.  You can also use pure maple syrup as an alternative to honey if you prefer.

Serves 12

Ingredients

1 pear, peeled and chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Canola oil (or coconut oil)
1/3 cup honey (or maple syrup)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
Canola spray, for greasing

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a large loaf pan with canola spray.

Peel and chop pear and place in a small bowl.  Add cinnamon and toss to coat pears.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix.  Add ricotta, oil, honey, vanilla, eggs and milk.  Mix wet and dry together just until combined.  Add pears and fold into batter.

Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from loaf pan and allow to set on a cooling rack.

Nutrition

Calories 184
Fat 7.2g
Carbohydrates 24.9g
Fibre 0.9g
Sugars 9.3g
Protein 5.4g

Friday, 29 August 2014

Slow Cooker Lasagna

Lasagna in the slow cooker means there is no need to cook the meat and pasta before assembling!
The recipe from which I adapted this was much higher in saturated fats, so I heavily reduced the amount of cheese, swapped sausage for ground chicken (you could also use lean ground beef, but chicken was half the price!), and added more veggies.  For the veggies, you can dice them and keep them chunky, like I did, or you can food process them to "hide" them to make the dish kid friendly.

You can swap whole wheat pasta for gluten free if needed, or use low fat cheese if you prefer (personally, I prefer to reduce the amount of full fat cheese than use low-fat!).

The lasagna freezes and reheats well.

Serves 8

Ingredients

450g ground chicken
1 carrot, peeled and chopped or grated
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 small red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
Black pepper, to taste
1 650g jar marinara sauce
12 whole wheat lasagna noodles, uncooked
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
2 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
Canola spray, for greasing

Directions

Grease bottom and sides of slow cooker pot with Canola spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, chopped or food processed veggies, herbs and black pepper, and mix together using a wooden spoon.

Layer 1/4 of the marinara sauce on the bottom of the slow cooker, followed by a layer of uncooked noodles (break noodles as needed to fit the size and shape of pot).  Add 1/2 of the meat mixture on top of noodles.  Next layer 1/4 of marinara sauce, followed by another layer of noodles.  Add a layer of ricotta, followed by remaining 1/2 of meat mixture.  Add 1/4 more sauce, followed by third layer of noodles.  Top with remaining sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese.

Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.  It is not recommended to leave lasagna on 'warm' setting after 4 hours is complete (noodles will over cook).

Nutrition

Calories 347
Fat 11.2g
Carbohydrates 33.2g
Fibre 5.1g
Sugars 9.2g
Protein 27.8g

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Pretzel-Nut Protein Bars


I was wanting to create a fun and healthy bar I could take with me as a snack, so I started to combine a few of my favourite ingredients. What's better than pretzels and peanut butter chips?! Combine these with a few healthier ingredients and you've got yourself a healthy, filling, and delicious snack!

Ingredients

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew, etc.)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup vanilla protein powder (I used BSN Lean Dessert)
2 cups oats
2 cups rice crisps
1 cup egg whites
1/2 cup whole grain pretzels, crushed
1/4 cup mini peanut butter chips
1/4 cup cashews, crushed

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Spray a large brownie tray with cooking spray.
2. In a saucepan, over medium-low heat, combine nut butter and honey. Stir until melted and smooth.
    Remove from heat and let cool. Once cooled, stir in vanilla and egg whites.
3. In a large bowl combine oats, rice crisps, and protein powder. Add egg white mixture and stir until
    just combined. Stir in pretzel pieces, cashews and peanut butter chips.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cut into 18 pieces.

Nutrition (per piece)

Calories 166
Fat 6 g
Carbohydrates 22.7 g
Fiber 2.2 g
Sugar 10.7 g
Protein 7.3 g

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Philly Cheese Steak Peppers


This recipe was inspired by my Aunt Penny, who I love sharing and exchanging recipes with! This recipe takes your classic philly cheese steak and makes it into a completely clean meal! It's filled with protein, vitamins, minerals, and bold flavours! 

Ingredients

1 pepper (red, orange, red, or green will all work great!)
150 grams (approximately 1 cup) lean roast beef
1/2 tsp steak spice (the Keg is amazing!)
1/4 onion, sliced
2 slices low fat swiss cheese 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350* and 1 burner to medium. 
2. Pour 1/2 tsp olive oil into a pan and once heated add sliced onions. Sautee until tender, 
    approximately 5 minutes. 
3. Slice roast beef into large chunks and add to the onions. Add steak spice. 
4. Cut the pepper in half and remove the seeds. Divide the onion and roast beef mixture between each 
    pepper half. 
5. Place pepper halves on a baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and top each
    pepper half with 1 slice of cheese. Place back into the oven and bake for 5 more minutes until the 
    cheese melts. Remove from the oven. 

Nutrition (1 half pepper)

Calories 156
Fat 7.1 g
Carbohydrates 7.4 g
Fibre 1.3 g
Sugars 1 g
Protein 19.3 g


Buffalo Chicken & Blue Cheese Muffins


My cousins and aunts on my mother's side get together once a month to eat, drink, and catch up. Normally the food is filled with fatty (but delicious) dips, chips, and cakes, but this time we decided to switch it up and make it a "clean eating" party. I wanted to make something that tasted like it was "bad" for you but that was actually filled with healthy ingredients. 

Ingredients

2 cups quinoa, cooked and cooled
2 eggs
2 large chicken breasts, seasoned, cooked, and chopped into very small pieces
1/2 cup Franks Buffalo Wing sauce
1/2 cup low fat mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt and pepper, each

Optional: low fat blue cheese dressing for dipping

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350*.
2. In a large bowl combine all ingredients until combined. 
3. Generously spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. Fill each cups 1/2 way with mixture. Should 
    make 24 muffins. 
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Let cool. 


Nutrition (for 1 muffin)

Calories 85
Fat 3.1 g
Carbohydrate 8.3 g
Fiber 1 g
Sugars 0.3 g
Protein 6.2 g 






Monday, 11 August 2014

Spicy Peanut Crusted Chicken Fingers

Baked chicken fingers are a healthy alternative to deep fried, and Japanese Panko breadcrumbs are ideal for achieving a crispy coating in the oven.  This recipe can be adjusted to your taste for spice--the measurements provided are for mild heat.

Makes 18 chicken fingers

Ingredients

3/4 cup blanched, unsalted peanuts
3/4 cup Japanese Panko breadcrumbs
2 tsp ginger, finely grated
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Black pepper, to taste
1.2kg boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into "fingers"
1 large egg
Canola spray, for greasing

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a large baking sheet with Canola spray.

In a food processor, grind peanuts into very small pieces.  Transfer peanuts to a mixing bowl and add breadcrumbs, ginger and spices.  Mix until uniform. 

In a second bowl, scramble the egg.  Coat each chicken finger in egg, allowing excess to drip off, then roll in breadcrumb mixture to fully coat.  Place coated chicken fingers on baking sheet.

Bake for 18 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Nutrition (per 3 chicken fingers)

Calories 395
Fat 12.1g
Carbohydrates 7.0g
Fibre 1.2g
Sugars 0.6g
Protein 61.8g

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Carrot Banana Bread

This is actually my first time baking banana bread.  I bake breads quite often, but if I am adding fruits or vegetables to a baked good, my go to is usually pumpkin puree.  This time, I thought I would change it up and add some carrots in for added nutritional value and natural sweetness.

Serves 12

Ingredients

1 cup carrot, grated
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup coconut oil (or Canola oil)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup large flaked oats, for topping (optional)
Canola spray, for greasing

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a loaf pan and set aside.
Grate carrots and set aside.  Mash bananas with a fork and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients (except oats) and mix until uniform.  To the bowl, add carrots, bananas, oil, vanilla, egg and milk.  Combine ingredients (being careful not to over mix).  Pour batter into loaf pan and top with oats.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Nutrition

Calories 168
Fat 5.4g
Carbohydrates 26.9g
Fibre 1.5g
Sugars 9.2g
Protein 3.2g

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Slow Cooker Sausage and Potatoes

I have made this recipe many times before, but always roasted it in the oven. Today I tried it in the slow cooker and it was just as good!  The original recipe for this comes from skinnytaste.com.  The plus side of doing it in the oven is not having to peel the potatoes first, the downside is having to monitor it as it cooks to add the sausage halfway through.  The slow cooker needs a little more preparation before cooking, but then you can walk away from it.

Serves 3

Ingredients

2 Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into thin medallions
1 red bell pepper, julienne
1 small red onion, julienne
225g mild Italian sausage (3 links), cut into bite sized pieces
Black pepper, to taste
Paprika, to taste
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Canola spray, for greasing

Directions

Grease the slow cooker pot with Canola spray.  Layer potato slices in slow cooker.  Add onions and peppers and season with black pepper and paprika.  Add sausage pieces on top and drizzled olive oil evenly.  Cover and cook for 3 hours on high, or until potatoes are tender.

Nutrition

Calories 426
Fat 30.8g
Carbohydrates 20.4g
Fibre 3.5
Sugars 3.9g
Protein 16.9g

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

No Bake Almond Butter & Chocolate "Cookies"


The picture above does not do these cookies any justice! Sure they do not look that appetizing, but trust me, they are!! I needed to make something quick for a last minute beach day, so i started going through my cupboards to see what I had. With a few basic ingredients this recipe came together quite nicely! I added some maca powder and flaxseed for added vitamins, minerals, fiber and omegas! 

Ingredients

1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder
pinch salt
3/4 cup smooth almond butter
1 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp maca powder
1 Tbsp flaxseed

Optional add-ins: shredded coconut, dried cherries, vanilla flavoured protein powder

Directions

1. In a sauce pan, over medium heat, add honey, coconut butter, cocoa powder, and salt. Stir until 
    melted together. Stir in the almond butter until melted.
2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, maca, flaxseed, and oats. 
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop by spoonfuls and place in the fridge for 1 hour
    or until hardened. The recipe should make 20 cookies. 

Nutrition (per cookie) 

Calories 135
Fat 8.6 g
Carbohydrates 14.3 g
Fiber 2.2 g
Sugars 7.6 g
Protein 2.6 g



Slow Cooker Sausage and Navy Bean Soup

Lately, I've been cooking a lot of soups to take to work for lunch.  I put individual portions in Tupperware containers (the screw top ones that are made for liquids) and freeze them.  That way, I can take them to work straight from the freezer and microwave it later in the day.

This soup is high fibre and high protein, so it makes a great post workout meal.

The spinach in this recipe can be swapped for any of your favourite greens, such as kale or dandelion greens.

Serves 6

Ingredients

450g dried navy beans
400g baby carrots, chopped
1 small onion, diced
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
225g mild Italian sausage (3 links), sliced
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup marinated artichokes, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
5 cups chicken stock (no salt added or low sodium)
Black pepper, to taste
4 cups fresh spinach

Directions

Layer all the ingredients (except spinach) in the slow cooker pot in the order listed.  Cook for 4 hours on high.  When there is 5 minutes remaining on the cooking time, remove lid and take out bay leaf and add in spinach.  Replace lid.  Spinach will wilt.  When the cooking time is finished, stir soup to mix all ingredients together.

Nutrition

Calories 433
Fat 12.5g
Carbohydrates 56.8g
Fibre 21.3g
Sugars 7.4g
Protein 25.8g

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Slow Cooker Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

If you ask me, Russet potatoes are underrated.  So is ham.  And together, they are even better!  Keep in mind that the thickness of the potato slices will affect the cooking time in this recipe, so I recommend slicing these about 3mm thick.

Serves 8

Ingredients

1kg Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 3mm thick medallions
250g ham, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can cream of celery soup
1/8 tsp paprika
Black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
Canola oil spray, for greasing slow cooker pot

Directions

Grease slow cooker pot.  Layer potato medallions, ham, onions and garlic in pot.  To soup can, add paprika and black pepper and stir.  Pour over top of potato mixture and toss to coat.  Sprinkle cheese on top and cover with lid.  Cook for 3 hours on high, or until potatoes are tender.

Nutrition

Calories 202
Fat 5.5g
Carbohydrates 26.6g
Fibre 3.5g
Sugars 1.7g
Protein 11.8g

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

I love pumpkin.  My life goal is to make pumpkin a year round staple.  Pumpkin pie in August?  Absolutely.  I made this for a barbecue and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I chose to make a crustless pie, since the pie filling itself is not that high in sugar and saturated fats, and leaving out the crust will save a lot of calories, but still have optimal pumpkin flavour!

When I was searching for a crustless pumpkin pie recipe, many of the ones I found included protein powder, egg substitutes, etc.  I wanted to use standard ingredients, so I adjusted the recipe and came up with this.

Serves 8

Ingredients

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or gluten free all purpose flour)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 15oz can pumpkin puree
2 tbsp coconut oil (or canola oil)
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Canola oil spray, for greasing springform
Optional: 1/3 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a 9.5 inch springform pan with canola spray or coconut oil.
In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix until uniform.  Add pumpkin, milk, eggs and vanilla and mix just enough to combine.  Optional:  Add pecans and stir in.
Pour into springform and bake for 38-40 minutes.  Pie should still be a little soft on top.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove springform.  Chill for at least 2 hours in fridge to set.

Nutrition (not including pecans)

Calories 139
Fat 5.2g
Carbohydrates 20.4g
Fibre 1.8g
Sugars 11.7g
Protein 3.5g

Friday, 1 August 2014

Maca Powder, Coconut, and Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries


A friend of mine recently introduced me to maca powder after it was recommended by her naturopath. I did a little research to find out more about the "magic powder" and discovered a variety of nutritional benefits: increased energy, increased libido, clears acne, helps with anxiety and menstrual cycles, and alleviates mood swings and depression. On top of this, maca powder is filled with vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, calcium, and zinc. Maca powder has a butterscotch flavour to it, so it can easily be added to smoothies, protein shakes, oatmeal, or any dessert recipe. 

Ingredients

10 strawberries
1 tsp maca powder + some for sprinkling
1 Tbsp shredded coconut
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

1. Wash and dry strawberries.
2. Put dark chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl, and microwave for 30 seconds. Take out and stir. 
    Put back in the microwave for another 30 seconds, then take out and stir one more time. 
3. Stir in tsp of maca powder until dissolved.
4. Dip strawberries into melted chocolate.
5. Sprinkle with coconut and maca powder.
6. Place into the fridge for 10 minutes until hardened. 

Nutrition (for 5 strawberries)

Calories 200
Fat 10.2 g
Carbohydrate 29.7 g
Fiber 6.1 g
Sugars 19.4 g
Protein 1.4 g