For those of us who are blessed to be able to work from home during COVID-19, life during a pandemic can feel a little like you are stuck in the movie Groundhog Day. We repeat our new at-home routine every day, while the reality of this crisis can feel overwhelming. Giving my worries to God, spending time in prayer and reading the Bible has been the only thing to truly give me peace through this challenging time.
I also feel better when I eat a healthy diet, so continuing to add fruits and vegetables in my meals has been a priority. I was able to purchase some beautiful beets from a local farm and roasted a batch for my new Beet the Morning Blues Smoothie. I mean, how can you not have an extra pep in your step and a smile on your face after drinking something so colorful and delicious. If you don’t have fresh beets don’t worry, canned beets are a great substitute.
I hope you are all staying healthy and enjoying new recipes and cooking at home.
⅓ cooked beets, peeled and sliced
⅓ banana slices, frozen
⅓ pineapple chunks, frozen
milk of choice
- Combine desired amount of beets, banana and pineapple in the blender. Cover with milk and add a drizzle of honey. Blend until smooth and frothy.
Grab a graham cracker and enjoy my dessert dip made with seasonal strawberries, melted chocolate and neufchâtel cream cheese. This pretty pink dish would be an excellent addition to your Easter dessert table or baby shower spread. Planning a gender reveal party? Make a blue version with blueberries and white chocolate chips. Whether you’re serving it at a get-together or snacking at home, you’ll have a tasty treat ready in less than 10 minutes.
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 ounces neufchâtel cream cheese
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 pint strawberries, divided
Graham crackers for serving
- Melt chocolate in a small sauce pan over low heat. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade add cream cheese and powdered sugar. Puree until smooth.
- Remove stems and hulls from strawberries. Slice ⅔ of strawberries and finely chop ⅓ of the pint. Add the sliced strawberries and melted chocolate to the cream cheese mixture and puree until smooth.
- Place mixture in a serving bowl and top with finely chopped strawberries. Serve with graham crackers.
I love the occasional calorie splurge for ice cream, but most often I prefer more nutritious and lighter desserts. My Sweet and Salty Peanut Butter Banana Cream meets my regular sweet tooth criteria, while also delivering a decadent taste. A frozen treat that is reminiscent of peanut butter and vanilla ice cream with chunks of chocolate and bits of pretzels. This kid-friendly recipe is easy and fun to make, but plan in advance because the child in all of us may not want to wait an hour for freezing.
3 bananas, sliced and frozen
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup peanut butter
⅓ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
⅓ cup chopped pretzels
coconut flakes for serving
- Combine bananas and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth and mixture resembles the texture of soft-serve ice cream. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue processing to reach this consistency.
- Add peanut butter and pulse gently to combine. Remove peanut butter banana cream and place in a freezer safe container. Stir in chocolate chips and pretzels.
- Cover and freeze for an hour. Serve in a cones and bowls and top with coconut flakes.
Are you craving dessert, but you made a New Year’s resolution to eat healthy? Dessert does not have to be off limits. Instead of depriving yourself, select recipes made with nutritious ingredients like this dish with fresh apples, protein-packed peanut butter and non-fat Greek yogurt. Cheers to a healthy year filled with delicious and nutritious sweet treats.
3 apples, such as Braeburn
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons peanut butter
½ cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon skim milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil a baking dish.
- Core and slice apples, leaving the skin on, and place in prepared baking dish. Drizzle apples with maple syrup and bourbon, and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss with a spatula to evenly coat and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until apples are tender.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or medium bowl with a handheld mixer, combine peanut butter, Greek yogurt, honey, vanilla and milk. Mix until creamy and smooth.
- Serve apples with a dollop of creamy peanut butter.
If the hustle and bustle of the holiday season has you feeling like the Grinch (it happens to the best of us), this smoothie is for you. Fuel up with this nutritious breakfast or enjoy as an afternoon snack. You will be ready to tackle the crowded stores on your next shopping trip or that pile of presents that need wrapping.
Sit back and relax with this green smoothie made of spinach, banana, pineapple, oats and almond butter, and you will feel more like a Who and less like the Grinch in no time. I hope you find rest this Christmas and enjoy healthful meals as you celebrate Christ’s birth and the magic of the season.
1 banana, sliced and frozen
½ cup frozen diced pineapple
1 cup frozen chopped spinach
2 tablespoons almond butter
½ cup old-fashioned oats
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup ice cubes
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and frothy. Enjoy immediately.
Note: If you have an abundance of fresh spinach or other greens you can freeze them by blanching for a couple of minutes, cooling, draining and storing in freezer-safe bags or containers. Ripe bananas are another great produce item to keep on hand in the freezer, and this is a great way to avoid food waste.
If you are craving Christmas cookies and do not have time to bake this holiday season, you are in luck. With three types of chocolate, oats and peanut butter, this is my wreath-shaped-take on the classic no-bake cookie. Throw together this simple recipe and let it chill, while you finish decorating your Christmas tree, and you will be ready to relax with your cookie, a glass of milk and a Hallmark movie.
I once lived in a tiny apartment in Manhattan without a stove. I had the strongest desire to bake cookies during the Christmas season, so I purchased a hot plate and made no-bake cookies to satisfy my sweet tooth. Now these cookies always remind me of the magnificent Christmas decor New York City has to offer, much like the enchanted towns in Hallmark holiday movies.
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup milk
½ cup chunky peanut butter
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup dark chocolate baking chunks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup white chocolate chips
- Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add brown sugar, milk, peanut butter, coconut oil and cocoa powder. Bring to a boil, stirring until melted and smooth.
- Remove from the heat and stir in oats, vanilla and salt. Gently fold in chocolate chunks.
- Scoop around ¼ cup of cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet using an ice cream scoop. With a small spoon, scoop out the center portion and add it back to the bowl of cookie dough. Use your hands to gently press the cookie into wreath shapes.
- Place white chocolate chips in a small saucepan set to medium-low heat. Melt the chocolate, stirring frequently. Slowly drizzle white chocolate over the cookies, creating decorative stripes.
- Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes until cookies are chilled and firm. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Servings: 12 (1 cookie)
Start your Thanksgiving morning off with these scrumptious Fall Harvest Pancakes made with pureed butternut squash and pumpkin pie spice. Whether you are refueling after running a turkey trot race or kicking back and watching the Macy’s parade, this breakfast dish will satisfy your morning appetite and give you a new appreciation for fall squash. If you are eating light to save room for all the carbs to come, extra pancakes will freeze well for a quick reheat another day.
I am thankful for my blog readers today and every day. I hope you all have hearts full of gratitude and plates full of delicious food. Happy Thanksgiving!
2 cups whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
2 cups milk
1½ cups pureed butternut squash
1 tablespoon sorghum
1 tablespoon canola oil, plus more for greasing the griddle or skillet
freshly grated whole nutmeg or ground nutmeg
walnut pieces, toasted
maple syrup for serving
- Preheat a griddle or large skillet to medium heat. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Add milk, squash, sorghum and canola oil and mix to combine.
- Working in batches, pour around ¼ cup of batter onto the griddle or into the skillet to create pancakes, keeping them evenly spaced apart. Cook until bubbles start to form on one side and the bottoms turn golden brown. Flip to cook the other side and repeat until you have 18 to 20 pancakes.
- If desired, sprinkle pancakes with a dash of nutmeg and top with walnuts and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Servings: 9 to 10
Topped with crunchy granola, these pumpkin-like, mini-muffins make the perfect addition to a brunch spread and are also a great grab-and-go breakfast option for busy mornings. Pureed butternut squash and pumpkin pie spice deliver flavors of fall in a moist muffin that is not overly sweetened. If you manage not to eat them all within a few days, extras freeze well for a quick and delicious breakfast that is safely stored away for another day.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup canola oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup low-fat milk
1 cup pureed butternut squash
¾ cup Pecan Sorghum Granola
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 24-cup mini-muffin pan with oven-safe paper cups or coat with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flours, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt together.
- In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil and eggs until the mixture turns light yellow and slightly frothy. Stir in the applesauce, milk and butternut squash. Mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in small batches until combined.
- Spoon mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle tops of batter with granola. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. When done, muffin tops will be golden brown and a toothpick will come out clean when inserted in the center.
Fresh fall pecans were the inspiration for my nutty and slightly sweetened granola. This protein-packed snack is made with only five ingredients and is so simple to prepare. In around 30 minutes, you can have a homemade treat that far exceeds the quality of the boxed varieties you’ll find on grocery store shelves. Enjoy straight off the baking sheet or make a parfait with Greek yogurt, diced apple or pear and granola. For some unique was to eat my Pecan Sorghum Granola, add as a crunchy topping for a fall salad or sprinkle on top of pumpkin muffins just before baking.
2½ cups pecans
1½ cups old-fashioned oats
2 tablespoons sorghum
1 tablespoon butter, melted
½ cup dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil or cover a medium baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, combine pecans and oats. In a small bowl, whisk together sorghum and butter and drizzle over pecan mixture. Stir until worked through.
- Place granola on the baking sheet, spreading it out and gently pressing into an even layer with your hands. Bake until golden brown and crunchy, for about 15 minutes. Use a spatula to flip pieces of granola over and continue cooking for 5 to 10 more minutes.
- Let cool completely. Then, break granola into small chunks. Add cranberries and toss to combine.
Named after their color, pink lemonade blueberries are as beautiful as they are delicious. They taste like traditional blueberries with a hint of lemon flavor. I amped up the sour tones by adding lemon juice and zest for a sweet and tangy dessert pizza with a nutty almond crust. This is a great recipe for a summer party, served with refreshing glasses of pink lemonade. If you cannot find pink lemonade blueberries, just use regular blueberries or your favorite seasonal berries.
1½ cups almond flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon canola oil
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4.4 ounces pink lemonade blueberries
honey for drizzling
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir almond flour, salt and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Add canola oil and egg and mix with an electric mixer to combine well. Form into a ball of dough.
- Lightly grease a pizza pan and place ball of dough on top. With your hands, gently flatten the dough to form a small disc. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to form a thin round crust, about ¼ inch thick. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly brown.
- Meanwhile, combine cream cheese and vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Zest entire lemon and add to bowl. Cut the lemon in half, remove seeds and juice one half into bowl, adding about two teaspoons of juice. Mix together to create a lemon cheese spread.
- Remove pizza crust from oven and top with lemon cheese spread. If dough is warm, dip knife in hot water occasionally to help spread evenly. Top with pink lemonade blueberries and drizzle with desired amount of honey. Serve immediately.