Caesar Dressing

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One of the first things I learned about my mother in law is that she is a great cook! And one of the first recipes I ever associate with her & that she then shared with me is her caesar dressing. I’ve twisted it ever so slightly over the years but it has always been a staple in our house. We even served it at our rehearsal dinner, we love it so much!

I’m sure you’ll love it too and there’ll be no need to search for a good store-bought brand when you can make your own at home!

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This is an egg-less caesar salad making it great for anyone avoiding uncooked eggs, like pregnant or nursing moms!

Caesar Dressing

Ingredients:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

~ 6 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 tube of anchovie paste

freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup olive oil

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a cruet or mason jar. Shake to combine well.

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Super easy but so delicious and flavorful!

My MIL crushes her garlic in a garlic press, but I finely mince mine. You choose what may be best for you and your family’s preferences.

Her original recipe stated to use “a lot of garlic” well I didn’t know just how much that was until I actually had to watch her make it one day while visiting because until then, mine just didn’t taste the same. My version of  a lot of garlic was 3-4 cloves, but no, she uses like 9-10? I may be exaggerating now though. I’ve lost track over the years. I may have toned it down or 6-7 may be the realistic amount. Either way, did i say it was deliciously amazing?

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Pair it with a salad for pizza night, steaks, burgers, or make an easy grilled chicken caesar salad! Printable recipe for your recipe collection: caesar dressing.

xo,

Becca

 

Strawberry Spinach Smoothie Pops

It might be a mouthful to say but these smoothie popsicles are a great way to get a bunch of the nutrients your child may be missing in a fun a treat-like food!

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I fed this to my daughter on our hot afternoon walk – and while it was messy- I was a happy Momma! I didn’t even care that her dinner was hit or miss because at least she ate some veggies – and enjoyed it!

I will admit, this is like the 4th or 5th attempt in giving these to her because she has resisted them in other attempts. At first she wanted them, but became quickly uninterested.

Then she wanted to try them, but said she didn’t like them… I was questioning this one knowing what other foods and flavors she does like.

Then she’d eat them again, only a few bites. Until finally she finished a whole one!

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I know how frustrating and tiring it can be to continuously offer kids healthy items even when you are pretty certain they’ll turn them down or say they do not like them.

Persistence is key my friends!

I often times feel successful at dinner- not even if she doesn’t eat her veggies- but as long as she was offered them and we all ate dinner together.

It can be hard enough to get our dinner together, while still considering likes as well without making 2 completely separate meals (because in all honesty, we shouldn’t be doing that)! But there are those nights when I can just eat cereal for dinner- and often do- and she does too! So while I’m glad she ate, I’m not thrilled with the fact it wasn’t a well-rounded meal.

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But I try to remind myself- and hopefully this brings you comfort- that you don’t have to be perfect. Kids are great at knowing what and how much they want. While we need to continue to offer and expose them to new and nutrient-rich foods, we also have to balance so many things in our day, so keeping it as easy and stress free as possible is so important, even nutritiously.

So Mommas, for those nights everyone eats pizza for dinner sans veggie or salad or the night you just throw fries and chicken nuggets into the oven, give yourself a break! Rest, refresh, and regroup for later. It’s just one day. There’s always tomorrow. The trick is to not let it become a habit!

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Strawberry Spinach Smoothie Pops

Ingredients:
6 ounces plain Greek yogurt

splash of vanilla extract

1 cup unsweetened fruit

1/4 to 1/2  cup Fairlife skim milk

1/2 cup coconut water

1 tablespoon nut butter

2 tablespoons flax seed

1 cup fresh spinach

ice

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth & combined. Pour into popsicle molds or paper cups. Freeze for about 10-15 minutes (insert popsicle sticks at this point if haven’t already done so). Continue freezing until firm and cold.

Enjoy as a snack or light meal!

Our milk go-to these days is Fairlife milk. I love that it has half the amount of sugar and carbs, but even more protein that traditional milk all because it goes through an extra filtration process (just like strained or “Greek”- style yogurt).

Speaking of Greek yogurt – I use Fage 2% or Siggi’s plain here – again for the lower sugar, higher protein content. Vanilla extract helps to add richness  & flavor without sugar. My daughter can eat plain Greek yogurt happily, but if your child is not this way, maybe start with a flavored Siggi’s yogurt.  I chose strawberries because -for once she’s not my child in this instance as she doesn’t like fresh fruits in general let along berries-  I’m incorporating what nutrients and flavor profiles she’s missing in her normal diet. And spinach, let’s face it, she doesn’t eat hardly any veggies, so this is the most neutral flavor, but nutrient rich option to add into a smoothie!

Enjoy!

xo,

Becca

 

And for an easy printable recipe, don’t forget to click here: Smoothiepops.

Feel Good Cookies

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When I was pregnant with LEM I would often grab these “perfect cookies” at work as they were:

  1. Free!!!
  2. delicious
  3. relatively healthy
  4. convenient to grab while at work, and one less thing to pack for the day
  5. satisfied my sweet tooth while providing key nutrients to keep me full and energized

They were made up of nothing but whole grains, plant based fats, and a mix of sugar and plant-based sweeteners.

Well, these cookies are no longer available and while I’ve tried to make them at home a few times, they never quite turn out the same.

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This time was different however! I changed a few things about the recipe and also to entice LEM to eat some – since she’s totally into this chocolate phase- but to rid my constant worries of added sugars, I used nothing but dates to sweeten these, along with a few dark chocolate chips!

These cookies are great for moms or kids! I bet dad’s will even like them too! They’re great for a healthier, but indulgent-feeling snack or pack them as a guilt-free treat in their lunch box.

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Feel Good Cookies

Makes: 4 dozen

Ingredients:

1 cup pitted dates

1 cup hot water

3/4 cup coconut oil, melted

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup ground flax seed

2/3 cup (or 2 scoops) low sugar protein powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups old fashioned oats, divided

1/2 cup dark or bittersweet chocolate chips {optional}

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray cookie sheets with non-stick spray.

In a blender, add the pitted dates and warm water. Pulse to combine and break up the dates into almost a syrup consistency.  Add the coconut oil to the date syrup. Pulse to incorporate. Add the beaten eggs and vanilla extract, pulse again.

In a small bowl, add the whole wheat flour, flax seeds, protein powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and 2 cups of the oats. Mix together and pour into the blender pitcher. Pulse well to incorporate everything together.

Pour the batter into the bowl used to prepare the dry ingredients. Add the remaining 1 cup of oats and chocolate chips. Stir with a spatula to combine.

Using a small cookie scoop, portion out the batter onto the baking sheets (they won’t spread out very much). Use the back of a nonstick spatula to slightly flatten out the tops – otherwise they will be rounded mounds or cookies rather than more even-top-flatter cookies.

Bake each batch for 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for about 1 minute then remove to a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Nutrition facts (per cookie): 80 calories, 5 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 35 milligram sodium, 8 grams carbs, 2 grams fiber, 2 grams sugar, 2 grams protein – not including chocolate chips if using

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Note: To make these gluten free, use gluten free oats and swap out the whole wheat pastry flour for another cup of oats. And for a convenient printable recipe, click Feel Good Cookies- printable.

For a dessert, I’d recommend keeping the serving size to just 1, but if this is a snack, you could increase the servings to 2 cookies! That’s right, eat more! They’re better for you and you’ll want the extra sustenance from the fiber, protein, and fats.

Don’t you love it when a dietitian says to eat MORE of something!?!

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xo,

Becca

 

 

 

Kale & Cilantro Slaw

I recently shared one of my favorite recipes {slow cooker pulled pork} so it’s only right that I share the best accompaniment that goes with this dish.

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This kale and cilantro slaw is perfect nutritionally-

dark leafy greens, check!

extra protein and probiotics from the Greek yogurt dressing, check!

Cool and tangy to offset the spicy and warm pork, check!

Pretty colors to “eat with your eyes”, check!

It’s also fast, easy, and while it gets better with time as it sits, it tastes great right away so no need to make ahead if you don’t have the time!

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Kale and Cilantro Slaw

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

1/2 head of purple cabbage, julienne

4 stalks kale, julienne

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

juice of 1 lime

pinch of kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon honey

freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

In a large bowl, add the cabbage, kale, cilantro, lime juice, salt, & pepper.

Prepare the dressing by combining the yogurt, vinegar, garlic powder, honey, and black pepper. Whisk together with a fork.

Pour the dressing over the veggie mixture. Toss well to combine.

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For a printer-friendly recipe, click here.

xo,
Becca

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Tacos

It’s the middle of summer and that often entails no one wanting to cook in attempts to keep cool and not add more heat to the house by turning on the oven.

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This month’s recipe redux theme uses some form of cooking rather than the oven: slow cooking, pressure cooking, insta pots, etc!

My bff in this situation is the slow cooker because it means low and slow cooking that produces flavorful and tender meals that are comforting and satisfying, even in the sultry summer!

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This recipe is almost a 2-ingredient meal. If you have the salsa mixture already on hand in your fridge then you can just plop some in the pot with the chicken and be done. If you don’t have a fresh jar of homemade salsa, not to worry, everything gets blended briefly and poured in so it’s still little prep work- something that can be done pretty thoughtlessly at night after a long day, or in the early am before you head out the door.

I do love this salsa- on a side note! It’s so fresh and flavorful with a little kick of heat and extra flavor from the chipotle peppers! It’s great to make up ahead of time and use for various other recipes!

IMG_5926Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Tacos

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

1 ten ounce can Rotel with Lime & Cilantro

handful of grape tomatoes

2-3 chipotle peppers packed in adobo sauce

1/4 red onion, diced

4 cloves garlic

1/2 bunch cilantro

1 lime, juiced

 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts

HOLA NOLA corn tortillas

{For the fixin’s: avocado, cilantro, plain Greek Yogurt, shredded romaine or lettuce of choice}

Direction:

In a blender or food processor, blend all the ingredients together- except the chicken, tortillas, and fixin’s (Rotel through the lime). Blend until well combined.

Pour the salsa into the bottom of the slow cooker pot. Place the chicken breast on top. Set on low for 6-8 hours.

Shred with two forks and serve on whole grain tortillas with desired fixin’s.

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As with many of my recipes,  you can adjust the amounts of ingredients to suite your taste and what’s available in your house. If you have half an onion to use and won’t likely use it later in the week for another recipe, by all means, throw it all in the blender for the salsa. If you only have 3 cloves of garlic, no big deal! Use what you have and don’t stress!

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xo,

Stay cool and enjoy!

Becca

 


 

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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tenderloin

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One of my all time meals on my blog to recommend revolves around pulled pork.

Most people can’t imagine making pulled pork better-for-you. It’s tender, smoky, it’s juicy, and flavorful- how can that be good for you?

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Simple! Just use a leaner piece of meat, plop it in your slow cooker or smoker with some vinegar and spices and you have an easy nutritious meal makeover!

Pair it with a whole grain bread and a slaw or veggie and you’re good to go for a family friend & comforting meal that’s delicious and nutritious!

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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tenderloin

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

1 lb pork tenderloin

1 small onion, sliced

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup unsalted stock (veg, beef, or chicken will do)

1 tablespoon low sodium Worcestershire sauce

2 dashes liquid smoke

1 tablespoon brown sugar (or molasses, coconut sugar, etc)

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

pinch of kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Set the onions in the slow cooker then rest the pork on top.

Prepare the liquid mixture (combining the vinegar, stock, Worcestershire, and liquid smoke). Pour along the edge of the pot.

Prepare the spice “rub” by mixing together the seasonings and spices (brown sugar through the remaining ingredients). Sprinkle 1/2 the spice rub on the pork.

Set to low for 8 hours and walk away! Shred with two forks and allow to keep warm for another hour + to allow the juices to soak up into the pulled meat.

About half way through the cooking (if able), flip the meat and sprinkle the remaining spice mixture on the second half of the meat. If you cannot complete this step because you are away during the day, don’t worry! Simply add all the spice rub in the beginning, shred when able, and serve when able. It’ll be delicious either way!

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On a 100% whole grain or whole wheat sandwich thin or round, spread on some BBQ sauce, add a good helping of meat, and top it off with a kale slaw.

If you’re wondering what particular BBQ sauce I use, there really isn’t any go-to brand in my house. I’ve had almost every store-brand and restaurant brand on hand at some time or another. Go ahead and use any one you like because the amount you’ll likely use on your bread is so insignificant that the sugars and sodium won’t make or break your meal.

I like to recommend, and follow my own advice, to incorporate a vegetable into every meal. A slaw of some sort just goes well with this meal. While I don’t personally care for heavy-mayo-based traditional slaws, I’m a big fan of what I call zesty slaws. Simply toss together shredded or julienne veggies, Greek yogurt, and lime juice or vinegar and top it on your pulled pork sandwich! It really helps to bring all the flavors home. A cool. zest slaw with a spicy, warm sandwich is the perfect pairing.

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xo,

Becca

 

 

Blueberry Yogurt Ombre Pops with Lavender and Lemon Oil

When I was approached about contributing my knowledge and expertise about essential oils, I couldn’t help but think my friend and colleague was such a better fit for this essential oil guru-role.  I’m so new to oils, their benefits, and uses that I’ll stick to writing recipes. Which is why I came up with these perfectly summery yogurt pops with the benefits of plain Greek Yogurt as well as lavender and lemon essential oils.

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While they may seem like an unnecessary amount of steps for the ombre- effect, I’ll say a few things:

  1. It’s actually not that difficult, just takes a few steps and a few quick segments of time to allow each layer to cool and firm up in the freezer.
  2. It’s quite feasible to do in the midst of other projects, especially if you’re good at #multitasking.
  3. You can definitely skip the ombre look altogether and just mix in the blueberry sauce with the yogurt and swirl it around with a toothpick.

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For me, the best part of these popsicles is that my 2 year old adores them! She thinks they are such a fun treat meanwhile I”m over here with the #mommywin and #dietitianwin because there’s no added sugar, benefits of blueberries, probiotics, protein, I could go on and on.

Mix up different flavors of these pops all summer long for a refreshing afternoon snack, dessert or even breakfast that you can feel good about feeding your family!

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Blueberry Yogurt Ombre Pops with Lavender and Lemon Oil

Makes: 10

Ingredients:

2 cups plain 2% Greek Yogurt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 drops lavender oil

2 drops lemon oil

2  12-ounce frozen blueberries

1/2 lemon, juiced

Directions:

In a bowl, combine the greek yogurt, vanilla extract, and lavender & lemon oil. Mix well to combine the flavors.

In a small sauce pan, add the blueberries and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, cover and allow the blueberries to warm through and soften (about 10 minutes).

Fill each popsicle molds with or paper cups with a tablespoon of Greek yogurt. With the back of a spoon, smooth the surface to make it flat. Freeze for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a blender, combine 3/4 of the remaining Greek yogurt with 1/4 of the blueberry syrup mixture. Puree until smooth.  Pour into a small bowl and set aside to cool.

In a the same blender, add 1/2 the blueberry syrup and the remaining Greek Yogurt to the blender. Puree until smooth, this should be darker in color than the previous blended mixture. Pour into another small bowl and set aside.

To the frozen Greek yogurt in the popsicle molds, add a tablespoon to each of the 1st (lighter color) yogurt blueberry mixture. Smooth out the top. Add the popsicle stick to the center. Freeze for 10 minutes. Then repeat with the second yogurt blueberry mixture (darker color) and freeze for another 10 minutes, carefully placing the mixture around the inserted popsicle stick in the center.

Finally, spoon a tablespoon of the remaining pure blueberry sauce onto each of the pops. Freeze overnight.

Nutrition facts: 70 calories, 1 gram of fat, .5 grams saturated fat, 15 milligrams sodium, 11 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 8 grams sugar, 5 grams protein

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For the full scoop – especially from a nutrition standpoint- check out Molly Kimball’s article on NOLA.com  including contributions from my friend Lauren Dunaway.

xo,

Becca