Tasty Treats = Good Eats

Tasty Treats = Good Eats

Some days I hate food, just because I love it so much!  In a country filled with delicious, calorie dense foods, it can be hard to stay focused on health. 
For the days that I just want to stuff my face with whatever greasy, sugar-filled substance I can find, I turn to what I call my “Tastes like I’m cheating recipes.”
What are these you ask?  Why, they are the recipes that are SO delicious, AND replace the exquisitely horrible foods that one may want to consume by the fistful.
So, seeing as it is Holiday season, and most of us will certainly be cheating when it comes to those special days, (and perhaps a few days after…can’t waste leftovers), I thought I would share six of my recipes tohelp you stay eating healthy until those ‘reward days’ come.
Get ready to get your eat on:
  • Cauliflower Rice: We all love rice.  It’s cheap, easy, and fills you up.  However, TOO MUCH filling up can leave a rather ‘full-looking’ stomach.  So, how do you make that delicious tasting dish that can pair with just about any meal healthier?  CAULIFLOWER!  Trust me, if you don’t like cauliflower, you will now.
Photo Cred: alagraham.com 

Ingredients:

1 Head Cauliflower
Some oil/cooking fat to coat your frying pan (coconut, olive, ghee, etc.)
Toasted Sesame Oil
Coconut Aminos (Much less sodium then soy sauce, often found in the Asian section of grocery stores.  Or, at the Co-op)
Green Onions
1 Egg
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparations: 

  1. Cut up your cauliflower into small heads.
  2. Place the cauliflower in a food processor or blender, and process/blend until cauliflower becomes consistency of rice.
  3. Heat some cooking fat/oil over a medium-high oven burner, and place your “rice” in the pan.
  4. Stir the “rice” for about 5-6 minutes in the pan
  5. After 5-6 minutes, move your mixture to one side, crack your egg on the empty side, let the egg firm up a bit, and then stir it into the mixture
  6. Add the rest of your ingredients, (amount depends on your taste/calorie preferences) and stir for 1-2 more minutes.
  7. ENJOY!
Like with most of my recipes, I encourage experimentation.  The recipe I have given you is more of an Asian inspired rice, but you can void the oils in the above ingredients and add some chipotle or chili powder for a Mexican inspired rice.  I also love to curry my rice with some coconut milk, turmeric, cinnamon, and curry powder…the possibilities are endless!  Also, don’t be afraid to add more veggies, and some proteins!
  • Carrot Fries: Not kidding, I could eat these all day.  They are so delicious, and much better for you then regular fat-laden fries.  Now you won’t feel bad about “super-sizing” your order! 

Ingredients:

Couple carrots (I tend to use 2-2½ myself.  The long, full carrots are best)
Cooking oil/fat (coconut, ghee, olive oil)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparations:

  1. Pre-heat that oven to 400 F…I always forget.
  2. Cut up your carrots into “fry-like” slices
  3. Heat up your cooking oil/fat in the microwave (use a bowl large enough to put the carrots in), and coat your carrots in the oil
  4. Get a cookie sheet and coat it in foil, (this usually saves the pan from getting dirty)
  5. Now here’s my secret. If you have it, take a cooling rack that will fit on your cookie sheet and place your carrots on the rack…no overlapping! This method will make your fries crispier then just laying them on the pan because they are not getting soggy sitting against that pan in oil.
  6. Cook your carrots in the oven for 20 minutes, then flip and cook them for another 20 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!
As you can tell from my recipes, I am not that great at using measurements.  I am again, a fan of experimentation, and I tend to just put in an amount that I know looks and feels right. 
 
Also, with these, you can dip them in some agave ketchup and paleo chipotle mayo mix, or whatever dip you like!
  • Brussel Sprout Chips: Most of us know about the infamous Kale Chips, but did you know that brussel sprouts make AMAZING chips too?  They also cook much faster than kale.  Plus, the leaves give off this fabulous buttery taste.  Potato chips be gone!
Photo Cred: nomnompaleo.com

Ingredients:

Brussel Sprouts
1 tbsp or less of Olive oil depending on amount
Seasoning of your choice
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparations:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 F
  2. Cut your brussel sprouts at the bottom and peel off the leaves. Continue to cut and peel until you have a tiny ball left (keep that to roast too, it’s good)!
  3. Place your brussel sprouts on a foil lined baking sheet
  4. Pour your oil, seasoning, and salt/pepper in the middle of the sheet and swirl your brussel sprouts around, coating them.
  5. Place them in the oven for about 10 minutes, keeping a slight eye on them to watch they don’t burn.
  6. Enjoy!
Don’t be afraid to use other oils or liquids, and lots of different spices.  Make it fancy or keep it simple, either way they are divine!
  • Kale Chips: Since we mentioned the famous kale chip above, why not go a little more in depth?  Let’s include it in our yummy snack menu, after all those potato chips are REALLY tempting. 
Photo Cred: kalynskitchen.com 

Ingredients:

Kale
1 tbsp or less of Olive oil depending on amount
Garlic powder
Coconut aminos (just a bit, don’t make them to soggy)!
Sesame seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparations: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 250 F
  2. Tear the leaves off of your kale into bite-sized pieces (I personally don’t use the stem for chips, but it can be good in a kale coleslaw).
  3. Place your kale on a foil lined baking sheet
  4. Pour your oil, coconut aminos, garlic powder and salt/pepper in the middle of the sheet and swirl your kale sprouts around, coating them.
  5. Spread the kale out a little bit to reduce overlap
  6. Place them in the oven for about 30 minutes, keeping a slight eye on them to watch they don’t burn.
  7. After 30 minutes, flip them and continue to cook them for another 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven, and sprinkle on some sesame seeds.
  9. Enjoy!
Now, there are HUNDREDS of kale chip recipes, and quite a few ways to do them.  I like the above way because it does not take as long as a dehydrator, and it is less likely to burn at a lower temperature. 
If you are in a hurry, however, you can preheat your oven to400 degrees, and cook the kale for 10-12 minutes.  Just REALLY watch it.  But, if you have time, use a dehydrator, it’ll let you do some really cool things with the chips like coat them with cashews and chili, and really bring out that flavor.  Remember to experiment with different ingredients like turmeric and balsamic vinegar!
  • Roasted Pumpkin/Squash Seeds: Do you like popcorn?  I mean most of us do, and a movie and popcorn is a must every now and again!  However, I don’t know about you, but that popcorn can leave my stomach with this odd feeling of both emptiness and overfilling, (weird I know).  So, let’s fix that with roasted pumpkin or squash seeds, (don’t just throw them out)!

Ingredients:

1 squash/pumpkin (most any type will do acorn, butternut, etc.)
1 tbsp olive oil
Cinnamon or pumpkin spices (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparations:

  1. Preheat your oven to 250 F
  2. Remove the seeds from your squash and place in a strainer in your sink.
  3. Separate the guts and pumpkin seeds, discard the guts or save them to make a puree in your processor or blender. Purees can be used for pies, homemade lattes, or even as a side dish!
  4. Rinse your seeds thoroughly, then place on a paper towel and pat dry
  5. Spread the seeds onto a foil lined baking sheet
  6. Pour your oil in the middle of the pan and coat the seeds evenly.
  7. Spread the seeds out, and sprinkle on your spices and seasonings.
  8. Cook for about 30-40 minutes, or until desired crispiness is achieved
  9. Enjoy!
I think this recipe is best kept simple.  The salt and oil works well with the crunch of the seeds to satisfy those cravings.  Squash/pumpkin seeds also have a fair amount of protein in them, just remember even though this treat is pretty healthy, just make sure to portion it out still!  It’s easy to keep on eating these.
  •  Just Desserts: So, this one is a few recipes all in one.  A bit of a surprise bonus!  I want to take to you a bit about the powers of bananas, 100% dark chocolate, and alternative sweeteners.

1. Banana Ice Cream: Oh the powers of bananas.  If you just cut those babies up and throw them in the freezer, you’ll be sure to have an AMAZING dessert later.  Just take out your frozen bananas, throw them in the blender, and blend them until they are a smooth consistency.   Mix this with some melted chocolate, other fruits (blended or unblended), nuts, or whipped cream (I prefer whipping the coconut cream fatleft on the top of some coconut milk with a little vanilla, cocoa powder, and coconut sugar personally), and viola!  You are left with a sweet and healthy dessert.
 

 

Photo Cred: icecreamba.com
 

2. Melted 100% Dark Chocolate: I know what you’re thinking….ewwwww bitter.  NO!  Melt some 100% dark chocolate with some grapeseed or olive oil in your microwave.  Then, stir in some coconut sugar/agave nectar/honey (your choice, but I prefer coconut sugar because it is lowest on the glycemic index), vanilla, and a pinch of salt to create the perfect ganache-like topping.  Pour it on fruit, freeze it with nuts and coconut flakes inside, or put it on the ice cream above, heavenly.

3. Caramel Topping: I love caramel.  My mother and I have this in common, we are obsessed with it!  But, we don’t want obsessed to quickly turn into obese.  So, I had to find an option that was a bit healthier for those days when I REALLY “needed” it. Mind-blowing caramel sauce This is the recipe I use, it’s absolutely fabulous and great on apples.

4. Dates: Just saying, dates are so underrated.  They are sweet and delightful, and have many uses.  They can give a cake a chocolate taste (look up some paleo cakes using dates, so good), they can be rolled in almonds or coconut, or they can just be eaten as is, super easy!

Now remember, even though these are healthier options, everything should still be kept within moderation (I know, I know, ugh everyone says that, but it’s true).
I hope that you all enjoyed my healthy alternatives to some of the junkiest foods, and also hope that it helps you get through the Holidays almost guilt-free. 
What are some of your tips and tricks for staying healthy?  Do you have any that are specifically for a Holiday feast?  Let us know on our Facebook Page: Upper Valley Aquatic Center.  We would absolutely LOVE to know and try them!  Maybe we will even feature your recipe as an idea for the Holidays.
Also, if you have any questions about the recipes (where to find ingredients, alternatives to certain things, etc.) please leave a comment down below, and I will do my best to answer any question you may have!
Make some great memories this year!
Heather Graham
UVAC Marketing Staff