Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cocoa-PB-Banana Pops


Yes, it is bitterly cold outside, and the town of Wilmington,NC has been shut down for the past two days due to the sheets of ice and snow that have kept most folks off the road.  And it is probably more stew weather, and less popsicle weather.  However, being stuck indoors for the majority of the day calls for experimentation in the kitchen... at least in this house :)

Zeina got me these cool popsicle molds for Christmas, and I've been waiting for a chance to try them out!  I'm a sucker for sweets, but the dietitian in me knows to limit added dietary sugar, so to satisfy both sides of me, I like to make my own desserts.  That way I have all the control over ingredients.

All you need for these is a blender, popsicle molds and a few simple ingredients.  If you don't have popsicle molds you could also use solo cups and then just eat your frozen treat with a spoon.  The beauty of these is that you can use any fruit, spice, milk, yogurt combination your prefer.  But my ultimate flavor combination is banana and chocolate... or maybe chocolate and peanut butter... or maybe peanut butter and chocolate!  I couldn't decide, so I went big and did a chocolate-banana-PB pop... mind blown.

Start by putting your bananas, peanut butter, almond milk, cocoa powder and coconut sugar in your blender.  Coconut sugar has the same sugar and calories per gram as your classic white variety- however, it has a richer flavor and does not go through as many processing steps if you prefer your foods in a more natural state.  I also added chia seeds for texture, but you can leave these out if you want a smoother pop.

Blend until all ingredients are smooth and well combined.  

Then pour into your popsicle molds!   

Place your tops on your pops and get them in the freezer- you'll want to allow for at least 4-6 hours to freeze thoroughly.  When completely frosty, take your pop out and enjoy the sweetness (minimal added sugar)!

Cocoa-PB-Banana Pops
makes 6 servings
2 bananas (the riper, the better)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 Tb natural peanut butter
1 Tb coconut sugar (you can use date sugar, sugar in the raw, white sugar or honey)
1 Tb chia seeds (optional)
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Pour into your popsicle molds and allow 4-6 hours to freeze thoroughly.  Pretend it's a hot summer day and enjoy!
Nutrition information per serving- 101 calories, 4gm fat, 15gm carbohydrate, 3gm fiber, 7gm sugar*, 3gm protein
*Only 2gm sugar comes from added sugars, the rest is natural from the banana.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Slow Cooker Sante Fe Chicken & Veggies

It's time to set it and forget it again!  And for once... a recipe with no chopping!  We will be using frozen vegetables for ease of use.  And for those of you who aren't sure about the "healthiness" of frozen veggies, here's the 411- vegetables are frozen at their peak freshness, so the nutrition is preserved when the veggie is at its very best.  Buying frozen is a good strategy for vegetables that are not currently in season (such as bell peppers, corn and asparagus).

All you do is throw your chicken, salsa, beans, corn, spices and veggies in the crockpot in the morning.  I like adding my pepper and onion mix about halfway through cooking time to avoid them getting too soft, but you can certainly add everything all at once if you like a softer texture, or wait an hour before serving before adding your peppers and onions if you prefer a more crisp texture. 

About 15-30 minutes before serving, stir about 1/4 cup of tomato paste into sauce- this will thicken it up and add a little depth of flavor. 
I served my chicken and vegetables over a bed of baby greens and topped with a dollop of fat-free, plain Greek yogurt (lower fat alternative to sour cream) and a dollop of store-bought guacamole.  Another option would be to wrap up the chicken and vegetables in a whole grain tortilla, or serve over some brown rice.  Yum!


Slow Cooker Sante Fe Chicken & Veggies
Makes 4 servings

1lb chicken breasts
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups frozen corn
16oz jar salsa
1 bag frozen fajita mix (peppers and onions)
1 Tb chili powder
1 Tb cumin
1/4 cup tomato paste
Mixed greens (about 8 cups)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (optional)
1/4 cup Guacamole (optional)

1. Place chicken, beans, corn, salsa, fajita vegetables, chili powder, cumin in a slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low about 8 hours. 
2. Stir in tomato paste.
3. Divide mixed greens among 4 plates.  Top each with 1/4 of the chicken and vegetables mixture.  Serve with a dollop each of Greek yogurt and guacamole (if desired).

Nutrition information per servings (when served over greens with 1 Tb each yogurt & guacamole)-
403 calories, 7gm fat, 49gm carbohydrates, 15gm fiber, 40gm protein