Chicken Hummus Salad – Boost your simple lunchbox! 

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This is one of my favorite lunches and super duper simple! A lunch I can easily put together in minutes while I have to make everyone else’s lunches. I will be totally honest, I’m usually great at making lunches for my kids and hubby but when it comes to myself, I’m burnout out of making lunches and would rather just find a grab/grazing lunch/snack….Aka, look in the frig and see what looks good. Could be a cheese stick and an energy bites along with whatever my daughter doesn’t eat. Maybe not the most nutritionally balanced but I need to keep telling myself if I just takes 5 minutes or less for myself I will eat much better for the day, sigh.

What’s in my lunchbox? 

  • Chicken salad: 1/2 cup cooked chicken + 2 tbsp hummus + 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 square Zoet 70% dark chocolate + 5 whole cashews
  • 1/2 orange
  • Jicama and cucumer sticks (feel free to swap with mini sweet peppers)
  • 7 Crunchmastet mult-grain 5-seed crackers

Here are the nutrition facts from My Fitness Pal app.


PRODUCTS USED

I tend to make two servings at a time with 12.5 ounces of pre-cooked chicken and one single-serving size of original organic hummus.

I love these crackers! I bought this box at Sam’s for $7.62. One serving is 14 crackers (Make note in my lunchbox, I use a half serving) 140 calories; 5 g fat; 110 mg sodium; 20 g carbohydrates; 2 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 3 g fiber; 6% calcium; 8% iron.

The lunchbox is what I used for my kids lunches but every once and awhile I use them for myself. I bought them on Amazon: Snug Kids Bento Lunch Box with Leak Proof Liquid Section for Children and Adults.

Easy-peasy-lemon-sqeezy, right?!

This lunch is wholesome, filling,  nutritious and satisfies every sweet/salty/savory/crunchy-tooth. I hope this inspires you to eat better for a healthier you!😘 Plus, it is delicious!  Enjoy!

 

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Ohso Good Chocolate Bars

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Hey friends!  Yes, it’s that time of year where I freshen up my families diet with kefir, oj, fresh fruits and veggies and extra vitamin D and zinc to help fight off any bad bugs that might cause the dreadful flu bug and yet even the simple common cold.  Being sick is not fun! Wash your hands, take your vitamins and eat those coloful foods on your plate are things I’m constantly honing in on for my kids, especially WASH YOUR HANDS! 😱
Earlier this fall my kids caught strep and as I was looking at a bunch of probiotics in the store, I found a chocolate bar with probiotics, what?!

I thought I can totally get my kids to consume more beneficial probiotics with chocolate, even for me, too!


Each bar contains around 1 billion lactobacillus and bifidobacterium (good bacteria), which contains three times more live bacteria than dairy products, such as yogurt.

Well, I was right about getting my kids to eat this product as they will ask, “Can I have the healthy chocolate?” I kinda laugh and feel slightly guilty but then again I’m pretty impressed with the nutrition facts label.


For just 70 calories, 6 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, 10% iron and a great source of health bacteria; I feel pretty good about indulging in this chocolate bar😋.

Why do we need good bacteria in our diet?

Good bacteria keeps bad bugs away, aid in heathy digestion and nutrient absorption, plus keep the immune system healthy.

Probiotics are found in a variety of foods such as yogurt, kefir, sourdough bread, sauerkraut, miso and even fermented drinks, like kombucha.

I also want to talk about prebiotics. Prebiotics  are carbohydrates that cannot be digested for the body. They are food for probiotics. Prebiotics are found in foods that contain fiber such as fruits, vegetables and even whole grains.  Another great reason to get those beneficial foods in the diet.

Well that’s all for now and  I hope you and your family are staying healthy.  Here’s to a healthy gut 😉. Enjoy!


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Monster Energy Bites

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Hi Friends! 

As it’s freezing cold outside, all I want to do all hours of the day is drink coffee/lattes paired with my yummy energy bites. Oh boy do I love this them and more recipes to come! I definitely have at least three of these bad boys everyday.  They make the perfect breakfast, snack and even dessert! They really do a great job of satisfying the after-dinner sweet tooth.

I make at least two batches of energy bites every week (one batch, Monster Bites and one batch Triple Chocolate Bites) And if I don’t have theses on hand, my family and I are raiding the candy bucket for something sweet. And if the bucket is empty, then we dig in the freezer for chocolate chips, ah! (Yes, I hide my chocolate chips in the freezer so they are in out of sight in the pantry)

I feel good eating theses bites and love to see my kids opt for them instead of something else that may not be as good for you. They are usually in my kids lunches most days. 

I invested in a good cookie dough scoop because I kept breaking my cheap ones… I use OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop. 


The hemp seeds can be optional because sometimes they can be hard to find.  

Notice I really load up on the goodies😉.  Flaxseed, chia seeds and hemp seeds are all great sources of fiber and heart-healthy omega-3’s.  The chia seeds and hemp seed give the bites a great crunch. However, if you look at my sink in the bathroom you will definitely find chia seeds, ha! Those little buggers get stuck in my teeth but I know they are benefiting my body and my belly.  Another good reason for kids to eat these bites because they usually lack fiber in the diet (Adults, too!! Most adult only consume between 10 to 12 grams each day and the recommended amount of fiber is 25 grams)

More on the hemp hearts, aka, hemp seeds, kinda a new item, this super food contains 10 grams of polyunsaturated fats (mainly good), 3 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein for a serving size of just 3 tablesoons, wow!  These are great to sprinkle on salads, yogurt or cereal. Yes, they are my new favorite! 

A new addition to my energy bites are sliced almonds. I adore the giant bag of sliced almonds that are perfect for snacking and sprinkling on yogurt. Almonds are super high in good fats (10grams of monounsaturated per 1/4 cup). They are also great sources of fiber and protein as well as providing sources of calcium, iron, copper, phosphorus, magnesium and manganese. Yay! 

*Quick tip: I store all my dry items in the freezer so they do not become rancid. Flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds and almonds are all stored in my freezer to extend their nutrition and shelf life.  I have a side-by-side frig/freezer and really dislike it but then I found out the freezer is perfect for storing all theses items! I still dislike the set-up of the frig but we will talk about that another day. 

As for the peanut butter, find any natural peanut butter WITHOUT partially hydrogenated fats listed in the ingredients. Partially hydrogenated fats are horrible for your health, get them out of your diet. They are also known as trans fat.  Any natural PB is a great choice.  And any honey ((you) honey 😉😘) is great, too! 

Monster Energy Bites 

Makes about 23 bites 

Ingredients:

1/2c peanut butter

1/4c honey

1/2 c quick oats 

1/2c ground flaxseed

1/4 c chia seeds

1/4 c hemp seeds

1/2 c sliced almonds

1/4 c mini choc chips or mini M&Ms 

Preparations

Mix together peanut butter and honey using a spatula.  Add oats, ground flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds and sliced almonds to the peanut butter honey mixture and mix well (You may get a slight arm workout but it’s totally worth it, trust me).  Next add mini chocolate chips or mini M&M’s and mix lightly into the mixture. Using a cookie dough scoop, fill with mixture to make little bites! 

*Store in frig or if you’re like me, I like to store them in the freezer to be a bit more chewy! 😉

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Single-Serving Taco Dip! Enjoy, Eat It All!

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Like many of you, the beginning of the year means eating better, right?  So how can I enjoy some of my favorite foods into my eating-better-plan?  I am a big believer in enjoying food and I love finding easy ways to make my favorite foods healthier without breaking the calorie budget.  I have a total crunch-tooth, aka, I am a sucker for any kind of chips and if there are chips then I really need some dip! Any kind of dip I will go for – sour cream and onion, guacamole, buffalo chicken, cheese dip and a favorite that sits on a pedestal for me, Seven-Layer Taco Dip!

I am so excited to share with you how I lightened-up this guilty pleasure to be a single-serving Taco Dip! This entire dip is ONE serving!  Yes, really!  Aren’t you excited!?  I make this for myself for lunch and I’m always stunned at how much food there is to eat.  Now since I can go crazy for chips and eat them right out of the bag, I do have to actually count out the proper number of tortilla chips and immediately put the bag of chips back in the pantry.  Hard, right?!  I do add some crunchy vegetables to eat with the dip to help clean up the contain of dip.  I like to add celery, mini sweet peppers, cucumber slices AND remember a single-serving of tortilla chips, in my case, only 14 tortilla chips. The number of tortilla chips per servings depends on which type of chips you buy.  Some recommended servings sizes can be as low as seven chip, so sad, but just pile on the good stuff and savor the dip!

Now for the dip . . . here is how I make the dip better-for-you  . . . replace the sour cream and cream cheese with non-fat Greek yogurt and trade up the refried beans for hummus . . . sounds great!  Let’s make this dip even easier!  Who really needs seven-layers for yourself?  Well, I could but I don’t always have that much time for myself and I decided to make a simple layered taco dip and include the bare basics of deliciousness – taco seasoned Greek yogurt, roasted red pepper hummus (my fav), organic salsa and top off with lettuce, shredded cheese and add something pretty, like tomatoes, green onions or in my case all I had on hand was mini sweet peppers so I diced them up for color!

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What I love about this dip:  1) It tastes amazing!  2) It is almost too much to eat for one-serving, woohoo! 3) It totally satisfies my cravings for something salty and crunchy! 4) The nutrition facts per serving can totally fit into a healthy eating plan! 5) For a salty treat, it does not break the sodium budget – must use Mrs. Dash no-salt-added taco seasoning! And you can STILL have chips! 6) You can have the entire dip for lunch! 7) Now that we are in Lent season, this will totally be a Friday lunch!

This recipe fall nicely into any eating-better-for-you plan because it is so simple and you get to really ENJOY wholesome, healthy foods and feel satisfied!  This dip is a win-win – eating something you love while eating fresh vegetables plus a serving of filling protein and fiber, can you believe it!?  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do for lunch.  It is really great to make a couple of these dips for the week and have them ready to go when you need them.

I used a Pyrex 3-Cup Rectangle Food Storage container – It is a 5-by-7-inch container.  I just love them!  More surface area means more area for my big eyes to enjoy this dip!

Okay, let’s talk about the layers.  The first layer I used a 5.3-ounce container of non-fat plain Greek yogurt.  This plain yogurt is sometimes hard to find but most brands carry a plain variety.  Just make sure there is no-added-sugar, like in a vanilla flavor, blah!   I added one tablespoon of no-salt-added taco seasoning to the container and mixed together.

The next layer is simply two tablespoons of hummus, I used roasted red pepper for more flavor, whatever you like. Then add two tablespoons of your favorite salsa, here is my favorite, Hy-Vee Organic Salsa

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I also have played around with the nutrition facts so you can decide what fits best for your calorie budget.

I use the app called Lose It on my phone and I think this is the best calorie budgeting app! Love the circle graphs when looking at macronutrients: Carbohydrate, Fat and Protein.  FYI, my chips that I used for a 2-ounce serving of tortilla chips is roughly around 140 calories; a 1-ounce serving is around 70 calories.  All chips are different in serving size and calories so if you look on the back of your bag and find the calories to be around 140 calories for a serving then you can following the nutrition facts I have below for a 2-ounce serving, just remember your serving size might be different . . .

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Here are the nutrition facts for just 70 calories worth of tortilla chips, which is usually around 5 to 7 chips is one-ounce.

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If you like this recipe, I also have a similar recipe http://dailydietitian.com/2013/01/31/taco-veggie-pizza/://

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It’s Friday! Favorite Product Review– Honest Kids Juice

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Hey friends!  Well, here we are full force into the school year with all three kids in school and pre-school!  This is the first year I have all three kids in pre-school/school. That means I have exactly five hours of free time to myself each week!  Whoa . . it goes way too fast but I am always excited to come back to my kiddos and ask them how school went.   Yesterday, as I dropped off my two youngest kids to preschool, I was so happy that it was not my child screaming and crying walking into their classroom, whew! I am pretty sure my eyes were welling up with tears for those parents, so heartbreaking.  The start of school year these past two week have been a success and I am totally loving having a school schedule again.  Having a schedule, even though it is crazy, just makes me feel more productive (I think?).  Cheers to a great school year!

IMG_0988Anyway, today I am featuring a favorite juice, even though we are not big juice drinkers here, I am very happy that a manufacture has figured out we don’t have to have 100% sugar water.  Juice is a sometimes food/treat, not an everyday food, but what a great way to change it up for the kiddos while it may encourage them to drink more fluids!  It is always a great little go-to, on-the-go treat that my kids love. 

We are just getting into the whole fiasco of bringing treats for the weekly Saturday morning soccer games, ugh!  I have done my duty of signing up for the treat list and thinking this may be a good drink to bring?  Too small?  Would a kid be totally disappointed if I just  bought water bottles, but they should already have a reusable water bottle of their own, gaaahhh!?  Why do 5-year-olds need junk food after playing sports?  Did I miss something?  I get the fact it may entice some kids to actually come and play but is it really necessary? Then on top of the “treat”, I have my youngest screaming and wanting her brother’s snack. SIGH.  Sorry for the rant, maybe this is a whole blog post in itself, wink, wink. IMG_1003

Back to the focus for today – Honest Kids Juice – even though it is only contains 30% juice the calories and sugar are at least half of what a regular juice box would be for this small six-ounce size.  I am happy to see 100% of vitamin C!  I like getting the rest of our nutrients from real food, remember real food has fiber, yay, juice does not!   Enough said . . .but some flavored water that taste really good (like fully leaded juice) is always fun to have for a picnic, bonfire or active day of play.  Everything in moderation, right! 

Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Cookies

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Hey friends! I last week I enjoyed the hot, sticky weather here and still recovering from a not-so-cool sunburn, blah!  I thought I would not get burned early morning at the beach but I was wrong!  And because I wore mid-calf running tights let’s just say my tan line is . . . awesome!  I helped celebrate a good friend’s 35th birthday at the beach, aka, by the lake last week.  It was a wonderful morning with kids at play on the playground and mommies relaxing with some yoga.  I am not the best at yoga but the scenery was amazing!  All worth the horrible tan lines, right?

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Here is a great, simple cookie recipe with very minimal ingredients.  My little helper was so sweet that I could not say no to her when she says, “But mom, I just want to help!”  Okay sweetie, let’s bake! #makingmemories, love!

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They are sticky and gooey and could definitely eat as yummy cookie dough without the egg of course.

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My friend got me into Ghirardelli, dark chocolate chip and they are amazing.  Big fat chunks of chocolate melted in a yummy cookie.  I was so excited to find my Hy-Vee makes their own dark chocolate chips just like Ghiradelli!  And they are an entire dollar cheaper, woohoo!  The little things that get me excited! They are also 60% cacao, that is the good stuff  – the dark chocolate with antioxidants!

 

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So it seem like there are so many, so many new chocolate peanut spreads out there on the market these days, ever since Nutella became a hit, everyone else is making their own version, right?   Well, I will say I do enjoy Skippy’s brand because it has way less sugar – 13 grams less than Nutella, wow!

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I added some whey protein to the cookies.  I do like Tera’s whey protein with a whopping 21 grams! A great little protein boost. IMG_0888

Sometimes the normal assumption of healthy foods is the darker the color the more benefits.  I have heard some people think brown sugar is better than white sugar, well . . .  not really, it is still just sugar and just the processing is different, however, coconut sugar, even though it is brown, does contain a few more nutrients than white sugar.  Calories and sugar content is still the same but it does offer more vitamins and minerals than white sugar. It contains trace amounts of vitamin C, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and copper. And probably the biggest benefit is that it does have a lower glycemic index than white sugar, meaning it does not increase your blood sugar (glucose) level as high.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Cookies  (Serves 24- *Large Cookie Scoop)

Ingredients

1 cup chocolate peanut butter

1/4 cup coconut sugar

2 scoops protein powder

2 eggs

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, optional

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chocolate peanut butter in a large glass bowl and heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Next add sugar, protein powder, eggs and flaxseed and mix well.   Once batter is mixed, add chocolate chips and stir. Drop batter from spoon onto a greased baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.  (TIP: These cookies are glorious when only baked for about 10 minutes). Take the cookies out and let them set for 10 minutes before eating ;).

Nutrition facts per serving: 95 calories; 5g fat; 51mg sodium; 10g carbohydrates; 5g protein; 1% calcium; 1% vitamin A; 3% iron.

These are nice sized cookies – get your money’s worth!    Enjoy!

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It’s Friday! Favorite Product Review–Ezekiel Sprouted Bread

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Friday is always a great day, right?  Well, I hope so, even if it looks super dreary here and we might have to stay inside for most of the day.  That is not a good thing, staying inside equals cranky kids, more so, cranky mommy!  Never less, rainy days are always great for play dates and library visits! 

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own and not benefited from any free or promotional items given by the company.

For today’s post, I have picked sprouted bread.  I have talked about this bread before in my Get Real about Breakfast post awhile back and always enjoy a good ole’ egg and cheese on toasted sprouted bread, delish!

For starters, let’s answer a basic question –

What is a Sprouted Grain?

First off, remember the three parts of a grain?  Germ (embryo),  endosperrn (starchy part to help embryo grow) and bran (helps protect grain and provides added nutrients such as fiber) – a whole grain must contain all three parts in order to be defined as whole (wink, got it!).  A grain is a seed of different plants and each seed is like a locked storage container of nutrients to help the plant grow.  As the seed sprouts, it “unlocks” the grains nutrients. At this time the sprouting is stopped or controlled in order to maintain the seeds prime nutrients. These sprouted grains are then used to make nutritious products such as breads, cereals and pastas. Kinda neat, huh?!

The nutrition facts look great with only 75 milligrams of sodium (have you ever looked at sodium in bread, wow!), good source of fiber and even 4 grams of protein!

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As you can see, each grain in this bread is sprouted.   Some products may say sprouted grains but when you look in the ingredients there is only one ingredient that is actually sprouted.  They always get ya somehow, grr!

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As for increased nutrients, there are many but here are a few I found from the Whole Grain Council in this great power point – Sprouted Grains.

  • Vitamin C increases
  • Folate increases
  • Antioxidants increases
  • Insoluble fiber decreases
  • Soluble fiber increases
  • Gluten decreases
  • Low glycemic (meaning after you eat it, your blood sugar remains stable – benefiting diabetics)

What does it taste like?

A question everyone asks, be aware this is not like a soft slice of bread you would normally have and it is denser and a bit more nuttier, which I love! It comes frozen in order to preserve the nutrients.

Does it cost more?

Unfortunately it does, but remember sprouting grains can be a tedious process because there is a sweet spot in order for the spouting/nutritional prime to take place.  I know at my grocery store it costs $5.49. 

How to incorporate it in my diet?

Anytime you have bread you may use this sprouted bread.  Ok, that was the generic answer, now you get my personal opinion.  I only have this bread toasted so I add an egg, sometimes peanut butter and occasionally I make a BLT.  I don’t eat this bread everyday but do enjoy it occasionally because I love bread.  If I have it on hand, I eat too much.  This is a great product to bump up the nutritional value, enjoy!

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