Healthy Holiday Cookie Roundup

Holiday Cookies

Office party cookie exchange? Kids’ gingerbread decorating party? In-laws holiday dinner? Chances are you’re going to be making a batch of cookies at least once this season. Instead of dusting off The Joy of Baking Cookbook for a dated chocolate chip cookie recipe, why don’t you try one of these festive and healthy recipes?

We’ve pulled from our favorite bloggers and recipe creators for our top 15 healthy holiday cookie roundup.

Short on time? Here’s 5 easy, no bake options: 

  1. No Bake Pecan Snowballs (Paleo, Vegan, Raw): With only 7 whole food ingredients and 2 steps, these festive cookies make the top of our list.
  2. Dark Chocolate Truffles (Paleo, Vegan, Raw): Roll these superfood packed bites into matcha powder and pulverised dehydrated raspberries for red and green truffles that no one will know are healthy.
  3. Gingerbread Bites (Paleo, Vegan, Raw): Easy almond gingerbread bites were our holiday cookie feature last year. Check ’em out.
  4. Chocolate Bark (Paleo, Vegan, Raw): Homemade chocolate made with just a few simple ingredients and topped with any toppings you like would make a great dinner party dessert or host gift.
  5. Raw Double Chocolate Macaroons (Paleo, Vegan, Raw): Shredded coconut sweetened with dates and dipped in homemade chocolate. Need we say more? (You could easily, skip the chocolate coating to save time and ingredients).

Looking for a healthy takes on holiday classics? Here you go:

  1.  Gingerbread Cookies (Vegan, Paleo): Using almond flour and maple syrup, these are a healthier alternative to the holiday classic (especially with this coconut sugar frosting).
  2. Sugar Cookies with Naturally Colored Frosting (Vegan): Subbing coconut oil for butter and dehydrated raspberries to make red frosting, make this recipe is a winner.
  3. Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies (Vegan, Paleo): Take the extra step to sub the filling with this 5 minute chia jam and you’ll wow all your friends.
  4. Magic Bars (Vegan, Paleo): A cookie exchange favorite with squeaky clean ingredients…these are a must.
  5. Peppermint Fudge (Vegan, Paleo): 4 ingredient peppermint fudge made with coconut butter. Check out the recipes link to easy DIY coconut butter.

Feel like trying something new? Check out these creative recipes:

  1. Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies (Vegan, Gluten Free): This recipe has us drooling by adding eggnog to the batter. And with only 1/4 cup sugar for the entire recipe, we can’t wait to try.
  2. Secret Ingredient Blondies (Vegan, Gluten Free): These are so good, we promise you’ll never notice the healthy secret ingredient.
  3. Peppermint Brownies (Vegan, Gluten Free): We couldn’t resist throwing in these peppermint black bean brownies too!
  4. Pistachio Crusted Chewy Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies (Vegan, Gluten Free): One of the prettiest and healthy recipes we could find!
  5. Cranberry Chocolate Chia Cookies (Vegan, Paleo): With an ingredient list that you could eat for breakfast, these holiday cookies are a great healthy alternative.

Chicken Zoodle Soup

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Comforting and healthy. Makeover your homemade chicken noodle soup recipe with these 3 simple swaps for an upgraded version of this classic, cozy meal.

  1. Swap zucchini noodles (a.k.a zoodles) for traditional pasta noodles. Replacing flour noodles with a vegetables makes a lower calorie, nutrient packed bowl of soup. We suggest this spiralizer to turn everything from zucchini to sweet potato into noodles. You could easily use parsnip or turnip noodles in this recipe too.
  2. Swap homemade bone broth for store bought.  Traditionally, chicken soup is made with bone broth. (Bone broth is made from simmering bones in water for a long period of time until a broth has formed). This broth is higher in protein, beneficial collagen and lower in sodium than any store bought variety. Read more about how bone broth has been shown to inhibit infection, promote strong bones and fight inflammation. If you’re new to making bone broth, try using a crock pot and following these tips from Bon Appetit. The easiest way to make homemade chicken broth is to use the leftovers from a whole roast chicken (that way you don’t have to pre roast the bones).
  3. Add herbs and aromatics. A squeeze of lemon or garnish of fresh basil can turn a simple recipe into a bright and flavorful soup. Most herbs, spices and aromatics are packed with vitamins and minerals. Adding them to your cooking improves both flavor and nutrition.

Ingredients
2 organic chicken breasts (or about 3 cups shredded chicken)
2 tablespoons organic butter (or sub olive oil)
1 tsp herbs de provence
1/2 onion
3 carrots
2 cloves garlic
4 cups homemade chicken bone broth
1 cup frozen peas
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 zucchini

Instructions
  1. Chop onions, carrots and garlic
  2. Heat pan and melt butter in large soup pot or dutch oven.
  3. Saute onions, carrots until onions are clear, then add garlic and herbs and sauté until fragrant (few minutes)
  4. Add broth and chicken and simmer until chicken is cooked through. (If using chicken that’s already cooked and shredded, add to pot and skip to step 6)
  5. Remove chicken and shred with a fork.
  6. Add peas. Simmer until soft (5 minutes)
  7. Meanwhile, use a spirlizer to make the zucchini noodles
  8. Add shredded chicken and zucchini noodles
  9. Let simmer for 10 more minutes
  10. Add lemon juice, zest
  11. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh herbs

Recipe and photo: momowellness.com

Mix-N-Match Stuffed Roasted Squash

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Are more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants cook?

Us too.

That’s why we love this mix-n-match guide for making stuffed winter squash.

A hearty and healthy meal you can adapt to whatever you have on hand.

Here’s how it works:

Base Ingredients

  • 1 squash (acorn, kabocha, butternut, delicata)
  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 cups of filling per squash (depending on size)

Filling

  • 1/2 – 1 cup protein – sausage, chicken, pork, tempeh, tofu or beans
  • 1/2 – 1 cup vegetables – onions, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, greens
  • 1/2 – 1 cup cooked grains – quinoa, rice, farro
  • Herbs and/or spices
  • Optional: nuts/seeds – walnuts, almonds
  • Optional: shredded cheese for topping
  1. Preheat: Oven to 375
  2. Prep the squash: Slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds
  3. Bake Squash: Place the squash halves cut-side-down in a baking dish and add about 1/4 inch water. Cover the dish with foil and bake until a knife easily slices through (anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes)
  4. Prep filling: While the squash is roasting, prepare any filling ingredients (cook meats or veggies fully) Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and season with spices and herbs.
  5. Stuff the squash halves: Rub inside of cooked squash with a little olive oil and pack with stuffing ingredients. Top with shredded cheese if using.
  6. Bake again: Re-cover the pan with the foil and bake the halves for another 15 to 20 minutes until tops are crispy and/or cheese is melted.

Here are some ways you could mix-n-match:

  1. Sausage + mushrooms + onions + kale + farro + sage + walnuts
  2. Chicken + bell peppers + black beans + chili powder + pepper jack cheese
  3. Turkey + onions + thyme + dried cranberries + parmesan cheese
  4. Tofu + mushrooms + spinach + garlic + scallions

Not sold on the mix-n-match idea? Here are 5 recipes to get you inspired:

  1. Sausage Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
  2. Chipotle Chicken Stuffed Acorn Squash
  3. Beef, Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Stuffed Butternut Squash  (paleo)
  4. Stuffed Butternut Squash with Quinoa (vegetarian)
  5. Wild Rice stuffed Butternut squash (vegan / vegetarian) *pictured above

This post was inspired by the Kitchn’s How to Make Stuffed Roasted Squash

Salted Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Banana Ice Cream

Ice cream lovers, listen up! If you haven’t tried banana “nice cream” yet, get ready because your dessert world is about to be rocked.

By simply freezing bananas in small slices and blending, you get a rich, creamy and sweet mock “ice cream” made from only bananas. One try and you’ll be impressed with how similar the sweetness and texture are to real ice cream.

All you need is ripe bananas that you chop into small pieces and freeze and a powerful blender or food processor.

Try out our recipe for salted banana peanut butter with chocolate sauce or experiment with adding your own flavors. (Like mint, chocolate chips, strawberry or cocoa powder)

If you’re looking for a cold treat to quench your sweet tooth craving this summer, this healthy alternative will be your new favorite.

Salted Banana Peanut Butter with Chocolate Sauce (serves 2)

3 Ripe bananas frozen in very thin slices
2 Tbs. Organic unsalted peanut butter (no additives)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 Tbs. coconut oil
2oz. quality dark chocolate (70% or higher) Or 2 Tbs. Cocoa powder

Instructions
  1. Blend frozen banana slices and peanut butter in a blender or a food processor on lowest setting until creamy, adding salt to taste (if not blending well, wait a couple minutes to let them defrost a little and they will blend better. I like to leave a few chunks too. You could also add a Tbs. of non dairy milk.)
  2. In a double boiler (or carefully with a small pot or in micorwave) slowly melt coconut oil and chocolate
  3. Scoop ice cream into serving bowls and pour chocolate sauce on top
  4. Top with chopped nuts, extra chocolate, shredded coconut or toppings of choice

Fresh Summer Rolls

Summer Rolls

Homemade fresh rolls are an excellent no-cook recipe for summer nights. They’re easy enough to make during the week, but impressive enough to serve for a dinner party. Add a hearty sauce and pre-cooked protein to make them a meal, or leave simple for a healthy appetizer.

We love this mix-n-match recipe for being adaptable and veggie-packed. The only prep is chopping the vegetables. Ideally, they would all be julienned into matchsticks like the pros. Or you could do like us, and just cut vegetables into small-ish strips and call it good.

Ready? Here’s what you’ll need:

INGREDIENTS
1. Rice paper wrappers
2. Sauce (see recipe below)
3. Filling Ingredients (mix-n-match from below)

DIRECTIONS
1. Prepare all filling ingredients (if adding noodles, make sure they’re cool)
2. Make dressing
3. Fill a shallow pan or cookie sheet with warm water
4. Place one rice paper sheet in pan and let “cook” for about 20-30 seconds
5. Remove from pan, let drip dry and fill with ingredients of choice.
6. Spoon sauce inside and roll like a burrito. Set aside and repeat.
Note: you can make these in advance for dinner guests or let everyone make their own for a fun dinner party idea or hands on meal with the kids.

3-4 Vegetables, julienned
Carrots
Cucumber
Bell Pepper
Cabbage
Butter lettuce or romaine

1-2 Fruits, chopped small
Avocado
Mango

1-2 Herbs, minced
Mint
Cilantro
Parsley

1 Protein
Cooked, shredded chicken
Sliced, Tofu or tempeh
Cooked shrimp

Other Additions
Mung Bean Sprouts
Rice Noodles or soba noodles

Dipping sauce Recipe
3/4 cup nut butter (almond, peanut or cashew)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup reduced sodium tamari (you could also sub coconut aminos or soy sauce)
2 Tbs. Honey
1/2 Tsp. ground ginger
1 clove garlic

Blend all ingredients until creamy.

We hope you enjoy this healthy summer recipe!

(Image courtesy of Alanna Taylor Tobin | The Bojon Gourmet)

10 Healthy 4th of July Recipes

4th of July

Whether your plans for the 4th of July are swimming in the sun or celebrating in the San Francisco fog, you’ll definitely be enjoying some summer food. Substitute the burgers and potato salad for these mouth watering recipes and make your party the healthiest one on the block.

Appetizers

Tomato Basil and Peach Skewers (pictured above):  Adding peaches to tomatoes, mozzarella and basil will make an impressive, sweet and savory appetizer.

Avocado, Black Bean and Corn Salad: You can’t go wrong with these 3 ingredients. Dress with plenty of cumin and citrus and you have an easy, versatile dish to serve with chips, on top of tacos or as a side salad.

Watermelon Feta and Mint Bites: Simple and easy to make (only 3 ingredients). Plus, nothing says summer like watermelon and mint.

Sides

Napa Cabbage and Kale Coleslaw: While coleslaw is usually one of the only vegetable sides to a traditional BBQ, it’s usually more mayonnaise than veggies. Instead, substitute a lighter (but still creamy) miso dressing and add in lot’s of leafy greens.

Fresh Herb Potato Salad: This recipe from Thug Kitchen uses fresh herbs and a flavorful vinaigrette for a fresh take on traditional potato salad.  As they say on their site “nobody needs mayo in their life”.

Entrees

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers: Easy to throw these on the grill with your meaty burgers for a hearty vegetarian option without extra fuss. This recipe also includes an avocado chimichurri recipe worth making.

Grilled Fish in Foil: Cooking for only a few? These 20 minute grilled fish would be great for 4-6 people. Easy to clean up and unlike a heavy burger will leave you with room for dessert. These also work in the oven.

Grillable Veggie Burger: The problem with most veggie burgers is that they don’t hold up on the grill, right? Wrong! Minimalist Baker has a solution with a grill worthy vegetable burger made with only 10 ingredients.

Dessert

Grilled Fruit: Try pineapple, peaches and even watermelon on the grill for a low calorie and festive dessert option that will please kids and adults, alike.

No Churn Peach Sorbet: As easy as making a smoothie. Just blend and freeze and you’ll have homemade peach sorbet.

Bring one of these recipes to your summer potluck or party and impress your friends with your healthy taste. You can even take all the credit for it, we won’t tell!

10 One Pot Meals for Easy Dinners

One Pot Meals

The idea of cooking dinner can be daunting.

We get it.

But often it’s not actually COOKING dinner…it’s the clean up.

Enter the one-pot-meal phenomenon.  There have been entire cookbooks, blogs and recipes created to make the clean up process a whole lot quicker.

We’ve gathered up some of our favorite one-pot-meal recipes to share with you. From hearty meats to vegetable stews to light fish meals, there is something for everyone. The one thing these recipes all have in common….quick clean up.

Take some time a bookmark a couple of your favorite and add them to your meal plan. Then, enjoy a healthy homemade dinner…without the clean up.

BCSF’s No-Dish-Fish – Check out our very own recipe for cooking fish in parchment paper. All you do is wrap your veggies and fish in the paper and bake. Not only does this recipe require only ONE pan, but ZERO clean up.

Vegetable Coconut Curry – Use a Dutch oven or large pot to saute then simmer all the ingredients for this vegetable based curry. Serve with pre cooked lentils or brown rice for a low-fuss dinner.

Greek Lemon Chicken + Rice  – This recipe has you use a pan to cook the rice in the oven (brilliant!). Then you turn up the heat, add the chicken and bake. If it sounds weird, don’t worry – the recipe comes with a quick video that will make you want to run into the kitchen to make this ASAP.

Vegan Pasta with Vegetables and Red Sauce – This recipe adds the pasta, tomato sauce, spices and water to the same pot to cook. Trust us, it works! Then, all you do is add some sauteed veggies (okay, so you used two dishes. BUT no need to deal with a strainer!) and you’re ready to eat.

Martha Stewart’s Black Beans and Sausage – Although this recipe takes a little longer to cook, the ingredients and directions couldn’t be more simple: saute and serve. One pot cooking at it’s finest.

Sheet Pan Fajitas –  Toss all ingredients on a sheet pan and bake. Mexican food in under 30 minutes = happiness.

One Pan Mexican Quinoa – Speaking of Mexican food, try this flavorful spin on quinoa by cooking your vegetables, spices and grains in the same pan. While the dish is still warm, mix with hearty greens (like kale) to complete the easy, healthy meal.

Baked Salmon with Cabbage and Kale – To be honest, there are approximately 5 dishes used in this recipe: a knife, cutting board, bowl, whisk and pan. Regardless, we were impressed by the idea of putting greens and salmon on the same sheet pan to bake.

Steak and Balsamic Vegetables – All you need for a fancy steak dinner is one pan, chopped vegetables, quality steak and your broiler. You can toss all ingredients on the pan to make this a true one-dish recipe.

Shakshuka – A traditional dish of baked eggs in tomato sauce, this one skillet recipe is perfect for when the fridge is empty or needs a clean out. Try adding leafy greens or other vegetables to the sauce for an easy breakfast-for-dinner meal.

One Pan Roasted Vegetables and Chicken

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We’re big fans of healthy food.

However, long lists of ingredients, dirty dishes and complicated directions…not so much.

That’s why we share recipes that not only have the nutrition tick of approval, but are also low fuss.

(Check out our No-Dish-Fish  or Egg Muffins for more simple recipe ideas)

You might have heard of  “one pot meals”, but have you ever heard of “one pan meals”?

All you do is put all your ingredients (meats and vegetables) on the same pan to roast in the oven.

Brilliant!

Here’s an easy one pan balsamic roasted vegetables and chicken dish to add to your weeknight rotation. It’s easy to make and best of all, quick to clean up.

Ingredients
2 pounds organic chicken thighs and or drumsticks
4 Cups washed and bite size chopped mixed vegetables (onions, carrots, broccoli, potatoes)
3-4 Cloves garlic
3 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Spread chopped vegetables and garlic onto bottom of 2 large baking dishes (there should be space between the pieces. Too close together and veggies will steam instead of roast and get mushy)
Toss with olive oil, balsamic and salt and pepper
Rub chicken with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
Lay chicken on top of vegetables and bake for approx. 1 hour or until chicken is fully cooked
(If vegetables need more time, remove chicken and bake longer)
Garnish with parsley

Serve with a side salad and dinner is ready. This would make great leftovers for a brown bag lunch the next day. If you’re vegetarian, check out this roasted tofu and vegetables dish.

(Image via babble.com)

Understanding Your Cravings

Whether it’s salty, chocolate, sweets, meat or carbs, you’ve probably experienced the feeling of craving a specific food.

Sometimes cravings are  social. For example, when it’s #nationaldonutday and after the 10th image of a donut on Facebook, you’ve GOT to have one. Other times, a craving is a red flag. We crave what our body needs.

Here’s a guide to what these cravings might be telling you and how to satisfy them (without binging on peanut butter pretzels):

 

Craving: Salty

What it might mean: Low sodium. This can happen to athletes and active people who sweat a lot. Salt also helps the body retain water, so it’s common to crave salt when we’re dehydrated.

Satisfy with: Start with drinking lot’s of water and electrolyte rich liquids like coconut water. If that doesn’t do the trick, try adding more sea salt or Himalayan salt to your food for a couple days. Instead of salty popcorn or chips, try celery (which has a natural salty flavor) with peanut butter and sea salt.

 

Craving: Chocolate

What it might mean: Low magnesium. Cacao the main ingredient in chocolate is rich in magnesium.

Satisfy with: Chocolate! Try organic dark chocolate with 50-70% cocoa. Add unsweetened cocoa powder to a smoothie or make chocolate chia pudding.

 

Craving: Carbs (pasta, bagels, bread)

What it might mean: You’re hungry. Carbs are the human body’s preferred form of fuel. So when we get hungry, we crave the quickest form of energy for our bodies to use: carbs. Craving carbs could also mean you’re stressed or sad. Carbs are the ultimate comfort food (hello mac n’ cheese) so if you’re constantly cravings carbs even when you’re fed, take a look at your emotional state.

Satisfy with: If you’re craving carbs because you’re hungry or just haven’t eaten enough carbs, (aim for about 2 cups of whole food carbs per day) try a baked sweet potato. Other carbohydrate rich whole foods are whole grains like brown rice or quinoa. If you’re craving carbs because your stressed, sad or tired ,try a non-food approach like going for a walk, calling a friend or heading out to your BCSF class to sweat it out.

 

Craving: Red meat

What it might mean: If you’ve been dreaming of a juicy steak or burger, you might be low in iron and/or B12.

Satisfy with: Instead of a greasy diner burger or steak, buy some organic and grass-fed beef or bison at the store and cook at home. If you’re vegan or vegetarian start a B12 supplement and multivitamin with iron.

 

Craving: Sweets (cookies, candy, sugar)

What it means: See carbs.
Satisfy with: Fresh fruit (apples with cinnamon and peanut butter, tangerines, banana or berries). Click here to see what our BCSF trainers reach for for their sweet tooth (like trainer Valeries’ idea for Trader Joe’s “just dried mango”).

 

How do you satisfy your cravings? Are you a salty/savory person or a sweet/chocolate person? Tell us in the comments below, we’d love to hear.

20 Minute Cauliflower Lentil Tacos

Healthy, 20 minute tacos?

Yes, you heard us right.

Lentil Tacos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This taco filling made from lentils and cauliflower makes for a hearty, vegetable meal that satisfies when you’re craving tacos (and who doesn’t crave a good taco dinner every once in a while?).

Served in a fresh corn tortilla and garnished with your favorite taco toppings, you’ll have a tasty, healthy alternative to greasy restaurant tacos.

To make this recipe come together in under 20, you can use either pre-cooked lentils (we love the ones from Trader Joes) or your own cooked lentils. For a spicy finishing touch, try mixing 1 teaspoon of the liquid from chipotle peppers canned in adobo with 1/2 cup Greek yogurt.

Try these tacos for your next meatless Monday meal, busy weeknight dinner or lazy Saturday lunch. Either way, they’re sure to please!

Ingredients
(makes about 3 cups of filling or about 6 servings)
1 head cauliflower
2 cups pre-cooked lentils
1 yellow onion
1 jalapeno
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbs. Chili powder
1 Tsp. Cumin
1 Tsp. Smoked Paprika
Salt to taste

Organic corn tortillas

Optional Toppings:
Avocado
Cilantro
Greek yogurt or sour cream
Tomato
Salsa
Lime

Directions
1. Prepare the cauliflower by grating with a cheese grater or pulsing in a food processor to break up into small pieces (should be the consistency of like bigger rice)
2. Heat a large skillet and saute diced  onion with a little oil or broth until clear
4. Add cauliflower, garlic and spices and continue to saute until cauliflower is done (about 5 more minutes)
5. Add cooked lentils and saute until all ingredients are warmed and mixed
6. To serve, spoon into corn tortilla and garnish with toppings of choice

*image via cookieandkate, recipe modified from Kate’s Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos