Friday, October 26, 2012

Crock Pot Applesauce

Last week, I received my daily e-mail from sugar free mom and there was a recipe for homemade applesauce.  I've always wanted to make applesauce so last weekend I used her recipe and gave it a shot.  I loved it!  I used to eat applesauce a lot , but it has so much added sugar I quit buying it years ago.  Then, I started buying the unsweetened kind and it's still tasty, but I only use it for baking.  This is the way to go for a delicious tasting, homemade side dish that won't cause a spike in blood sugar. 

Here's her original recipe and then I'll tell you what I did.

Nutrition Info
Servings: 5 -1/2 c. Calories per serving: 73 Fat: 0g Fiber: 3g carbs: 20g Protein: 0g

5 apples, cored, peeled and sliced
1 c. fresh cranberries, washed
1 c. water
1 cinnamon stick or 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
sweetener of your choice to taste

Combine water, apples, cranberries and cinnamon in crock pot.

Cook on high 4-5 hours until apples are soft. Discard cinnamon stick.

Place the mixture into a food processor and process until smooth or pulse slowly and leave some fruit chunks and texture in the applesauce if you like it like that.
Add your sweetener and chill.

She uses liquid stevia in almost all her recipes.  For this recipe she used sweetleaf stevia.  I've never bothered to purchase the liquid form of the natural sweetener and she's really good about giving you alternatives.  (Like honey or packets of dry stevia)  I had honey and she recommended using 1/2 cup and adding it to the apples in the crock pot while it cooks. 

I didn't see any cranberries when I was at the store :( and she said if you don't have/like fresh cranberries to add 1 more cup of apples or pears.  I added an extra cup of apples.  I read the other day that cranberry season is upon us so I'm hoping to find fresh cranberries for my next batch for two reasons.  1) How delicious does that sound? 2) It will make PINK applesauce. :)

While this tasted awesome, next time I will add just 1/4 cup of honey.  I felt 1/2 cup was much too strong and the honey flavor took away from the apples.

 This recipe is so easy!  The only tedious part is peeling all the apples.  I always peel apples and watch t.v. at the same time.  Might as well get caught up on Kelly and Michael while I peel away! 

It made the house smell delicious! This is how it looked after 4 hours.
Rather than putting it in the blender or food processor I used my immersion blender.  (Best gadget ever for homemade soups and many other things!)  I wanted to use my immersion blender because I wanted to leave a few chunks of apples and make it "chunky applesauce."  Here's a picture of it all blended up and ready to eat.  You're ready to lick the picture of my crock pot aren't you? 
She never specified any type of apple so I'm sure you can use whatever you like.  I had two Gala's so I used those to get rid of them and then used Jonathan's as well.  My only regret is that my apples were store bought.  It'd be way cooler to make this with your apples from the apple orchard!  Hope you like it!


Breakfast Wednesday was a bowl of oatmeal with about 2 teaspoons of brown sugar stirred in.  I wish I could enjoy oatmeal without adding sugar, but it's just not the same!

On my way to work I stopped at Quick Trip for a pumpkin coffee.  It's the best $1.28 I'll spend many times this Fall.  It's technically pumpkin cappuccino with a bazillion grams of sugar.  For me, it's WAY too sweet on it's own.  So, I usually fill my cup 1/3 to 1/2 of the way with pumpkin cappuccino and then fill the rest with coffee.  Makes it healthier, and in my opinion, much better tasting.

For a morning snack I ate some red grapes.  Lunch was pumpkin ravioli with red pasta sauce.  I'm eating it twice a week, sometimes three times.  It's just so yummy!

Afternoon snack was some pumpkin salsa with sweet potato chips. 

Dinner was a much deserved glass of wine.  (I had a gym full of crazy middle school girls all day.  I remember there being 20 or 30 in my classes back in the day.  I had 52...with no whistle.  I whispered, "Dear Jesus, please help no fights to break out!" several times.  No fights and I survived!)  Anyway, to the food...I had a salad with mighty mini's and then grilled mighty mini's with squash, baked risotto and roasted cauliflower.   

This is going to be my last WIAW post for a bit.  With pumpkin season here and then Christmas coming there's just too much I want to post to waste time with what I ate.  Besides, if you haven't noticed I tend to find things I like and then I make them over and over again.  If I make something new, I always blog about it anyway.  So, that's it on the WIAW for now.  I still think it's a GREAT thing to do on your own to monitor what you eat and hold yourself accountable, but for now, let's focus on Fall and pumpkin recipes!  Can I get an AMEN?! 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pumpkin Ravioli

Before you get excited, this isn't a post about making ravioli.  Although I have made pumpkin ravioli before, I'm yet to do so this fall.  In the same trip to Aldi that I found pumpkin salsa I also found pumpkin ravioli.  I'm telling you, I hit the jackpot!  (Yes, I could be an Aldi spokesperson...if only they would update that 1970's logo and horrible orange/brown tile.  It's like traveling back in time when you walk through those doors)  Anyway...Josh went to West Virginia for the K-State game with his Dad so I was on my own for dinner.  I had some pasta sauce in the freezer that I thawed and voila, easy game time dinner was ready.  Although it would be nice if these were whole wheat, even with the white flour, it's still better than pizza and beer, right?

You can find these in the frozen section and I don't remember how much they were, but they were cheap.  There's a recipe on the back for a sauce, but it was straight sugar so I opted for homemade red sauce.  I'm not sure if it's weird to put red sauce on it, but it tasted great to me!  I also put a couple ravioli in a bowl and drizzled some olive oil on top and sprinkled it with goat cheese.  That was a nice option as well.  Today in the World Market ad I saw a jar of pumpkin pasta sauce.  How exciting!  I may go buy a jar or I may look up a recipe for the next time I make these.


The serving size is 5 ravioli and they are big so I thought 5 was enough.  I still have some left, but I'll be stocking up on bags of this along with my pumpkin salsa on my trip to Aldi tomorrow.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Josh was on call Thursday and he takes his computer with him so I wasn't able to get this posted on Thursday.  Therefore...
I didn't write down everything I ate.  (Rookie mistake)  I did take pictures of the main meals, but you know me and my snacking.  I'll do my best!
Breakfast was a 100% whole wheat bagel thin with two egg whites, some goat cheese and Sriracha sauce.  For a snack I had an apple and some red grapes. (I think)
Lunch was a leftover sweet potato and black bean burrito from the night before, SMOTHERED in pumpkin salsa.  Get ready for the best new food product I found last week!

There I was, sticking to my list while at Aldi when I noticed a new pumpkin section that was most definitely not there last week.  Like normal pumpkin flavored displays, it was filled with horrible for you items: pumpkin bark, a pumpkin coffee drink (that had enough sugar to last me days) and some pumpkin cider.  But, there at the top I saw something I've never heard of.  Pumpkin salsa!  I love pumpkin.  I love salsa.  Why not combine them?

 Great news is it was all natural ingredients and I knew what all of them were.  Here's where I made a mistake.  I only bought one jar.  I'm ashamed to tell you this jar is already long gone.  I will be visiting Aldi tomorrow morning and purchasing 5 more jars to get me through the next month.  It's delicious with sweet potato tortilla chips, but it was PERFECT atop my sweet potato burrito.  If you shop at Aldi and you like pumpkin, buy this!  It's not very spicy, but I'm sure that's so the pumpkin can shine.  And, it does!  At first bite you taste the pumpkin and then you get the salsa.  It's a fabulous combo! 
Afternoon snack was two no bake energy bites.  (I think)  And, while I cooked dinner I ate some chips and (you guessed it!) pumpkin salsa. 

I made one of Josh's favorite meals Wednesday night.  The one he refers to as "Good Chicken".  For me, it means brown rice and I just scoop up all the sauce that's around the chicken, but I love it too!  It's not extremely healthy, but I use my cream of chicken substitute which helps.  I also ate a spinach salad and squash and mighty mini peppers.  I LOVE those mighty, mighty, minis.  (Also purchased at Aldi)
I've had a day of trying new recipes so hopefully I'll have some to share after I taste them!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Breakfast Quinoa

I love quinoa.  It's so versatile, healthy, and extremely filling.  This is one of my favorite things to make for breakfast.  It comes from Jessica Seinfeld's book Double Delicious.

Her cookbooks (she has two) are all about sneaking healthy food into your meals so kids eat them.  Obviously, I purchased them because I like to try healthy things.  This was one of the first recipes I tried and it's a winner!  Plus, I usually always have the ingredients on hand so it's a great last minute breakfast when I'm wanting to switch it up.

1 1/4 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1 tablespoon trans-fat-free soft tub margarine spread (I use real butter)
1/2 cup sweet potato puree
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/3 cup light vanilla soy milk or nonfat (skim) milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons pure maple syrup, divided for garnish
6 teaspoons chopped walnuts or almonds, divided for garnish

In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa in cold water and strain.  (Check your quinoa package.  Some of them are pre rinsed and you can skip this step) Add the quinoa to the boiling water and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 12 minutes, uncovered. Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes.

In a separate pot, melt the margarine. Stir in the sweet potato puree, 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup, soy milk, cinnamon and salt. When the quinoa has finished cooking, stir in the sweet potato mixture. Divide into bowls and top with a teaspoon each of maple syrup and nuts.

Nutritional information: Calories: 186, Carbohydrate: 30 g, protein: 5.5 g, total fat: 5 g, saturated fat: 0.5 g, sodium: 100 mg, fiber: 3g.

I just mash my sweet potato.  You can add water and use a mixer to really blend it up, but I'm not trying to hide anything so mashing it with a fork works just fine for me. 
Here is everything all stirred up waiting for the quinoa.
Quinoa stirred in.  It looks much prettier in person. 

 The recipe says it's for six servings.  That's just hilarious.  Unless you eat like Victoria Beckham, you'll get three servings out of this, not six.  (Which equals 372 calories-still a great, healthy start to the most important meal of the day)  I made this recipe tonight while dinner was in the oven and placed it in three to go containers and breakfast is served for the next few days!  All i have to do is microwave it and pour some more syrup on top. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Half & Half

I try not to make many recipes that call for heavy cream.  However, when I do, I always substitute it with half and half.  I thought I'd share the ingredients list with you from the fat free half and half and then the regular. 

If you don't look at the ingredients list you would probably grab the fat free at the grocery store assuming it was better for you.  But, look at all those ingredients!  Plus, the third ingredient listed is corn syrup, which I try to avoid whenever possible. 
Here's the regular, "full fat" version.

Only two ingredients and I know what they are!  Yes, you will ingest more fat than with the fat free.  However, I prefer to eat more all natural fat than a bunch of ingredients I've never heard of.  Besides, if you use half and half very sparingly you and the scale can keep a happy relationship!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Hi strangers!  Even though it looks like it, I haven't forgotten about my blog.  I'm a bit late posting this's been one of those weeks where I have had stuff to do each night.  I mean, let's get real: blog or watch Giuliana and Bill?  Sorry folks, G & B will win every time.  Every.Single.Time. 

I forgot to take a picture of my breakfast, but I started the day with two egg whites on a 100% whole wheat flat bread, topped with some goat cheese and sriracha sauce. 

My snack was some red grapes.  For lunch, I had leftovers from dinner the night before.  I wish I would have taken a picture Tuesday night when it was all pretty in the pan.  I didn't, so you're stuck with an ugly leftover, reheated picture.

These are stuffed shells with pumpkin and it's my all time, favorite pumpkin dish to make.  My friend KoKo tried this recipe in college and I've been making it ever since.  It's not the healthiest, but I'll still share the recipe soon because it's super easy and soooooo tasty!
My afternoon snack was an apple and while I cooked dinner I had a 100% whole wheat pita and some homemade hummus.
For dinner, I made Gouda pasta and a sweet potato.  I love this dinner!  It came from my friend Katie O, and it's a very low calorie dish.  Well, it is when you take a normal serving.  I usually eat too much. 
After dinner I went to Yia Yias for $5 martini night with some of my yoga/running friends.  I never order martini's when I go out (you know by now I'm a red wine kind of girl).  However, they had a sangria-tini and it was the bomb!  I love me a red sangria...probably because it has a lot of red wine in it. (Captain obvious in the building today!)   However, to make it into a martini is pure genius!   
That was my Wednesday.  Too much pasta-what's new?  Every Wednesday I say too much pasta, too many carbs...yeah, yeah, yeah.  I see the pattern too.  Maybe next Wednesday will be better.
Switching gears a bit...while this has nothing to do with WIAW, it has to do with beautiful looking food so I'm going to share it with you.  My brother sent me a picture a couple months ago of a cake he wanted.  I originally planned on making it, but then remembered I don't bake much, I can't write nicely and I can't draw.  Thankfully, I snapped into reality in time to hire someone in Wichita to make it rather than put myself through that.  I found someone I used to work with who would make the cake he requested at an affordable price.  It turned out better than I could have imagined!

It says "May this be the year you finally take over the World."  If you know Tyler at all-this cake is perfect. :)  The bottom DID say "Happy" in front of the "Birthday Tyler."  I made it all the way to Manhattan from Wichita by carrying it in my lap and when we got to town I placed it in my seat to run in and get a coffee for everyone.  I got back and the whole thing had slid on top of the Happy.  I was so upset...may have overreacted a tad...I mean, there are worse things that could have happened.  With the help of my parents we managed to slide the Earth back to the middle and completely wipe off the disfigured "Happy."  Tyler was thrilled with he cake and it made it completely worth the effort!

Lastly, Tyler's friend Luisa gave me a nice shout out on facebook about my blog :) so I want to share the cake she MADE for Tyler on his birthday.  I mean, the Earth one above is cool, but it's not like I made it.  I was super impressed and I know it made Tyler's birthday extra special.
 Happy 26th birthday, Tyler!

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Don't you just love the new October WIAW board?  I started my Wednesday with a healthy Halloween Treat.  Well, I consider it a treat.  Breakfast was leftover Pumpkin Steel Cut oats.  Just as delicious the next day...and day after that...and day after that.  Yes, I've had a bowl of these every day since Sunday for breakfast. 


 I also had a cup of Peppermint Tea from Trader Joe's with my breakfast.

My morning snack was some red grapes.  Probably my favorite fruit...and perhaps explains my love for red wine. :)   

Lunch was a bit random.  I had some leftover risotto, 5 tofu edamame nuggets with sriracha ketchup, and some vegetables.

For a snack I had two no bake pumpkin bites.

Josh was on call last night so I made my go to meal for when he's gone and I don't try a new recipe.  It's just brown rice and Asian vegetables. (I buy a huge bag at Sam's and always have it in the freezer)  I throw them on the stove with some garlic, soy sauce, and of course sriracha sauce.  I usually try to add some tofu, but I didn't have any so vegetables and rice it was.  Oh, and a glass of Cabernet.  Duh.

And...then I thought about leaving this off because you would never know. :)  But, that wouldn't be truthful so I should tell you at 8:00 my stomach was growling.  I woke up yesterday with my stomach growling.  One of those days.  Clearly, since I didn't have any tofu (aka: protein) to fill me up from dinner I should have made some edamame to eat with my dinner.  I was actually hungry, not just randomly snacking so I opted for a late night snack. Okay, I know 8:00 isn't late night for most of you, but for me that's quite close to my bedtime!  I chose a bowl of Life cereal with vanilla almond milk.  Hit the spot.  Then I woke up today stomach growling again.  I mean, really?!  Josh likes to say maybe it's a growth spurt and my "girls" are finally coming in. Sorry, honey, I'm 28...I think I'm just hungry.


Here's to an October filled with spooky snacks and healthy Halloween treats! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Overnight Pumpkin Steel Cut Oats

In case you haven't noticed, it's Fall and I LOVE pumpkin.  Over the weekend I tried several healthy pumpkin recipes and two were keepers, one was I'll eat it, but won't make it again, and one was so horrible I threw it away.  Yes, that bad.  Anyway, I shared keeper #1 yesterday and today is time for keeper #2. 

I wanted to make this for Bible Study this morning, but I wanted to test it out over the weekend first because I don't love using the crock pot.  Soup and chili is easy in it, but other stuff always sticks and dries out.  And, yes, I've used those plastic liner things, but then everything just sticks to those.  Plus, they kind of weird me out.  Additionally, the last time I tried overnight oats they were gross.  All that to say, I'm not sold on this whole crock pot cooking stuff.  However, I found a winner!  So easy and incredibly healthy!  So, this morning I made it again and Katie agreed it was a great addition to the pumpkin recipes for Fall.  The only negative thing I have to say is I really like my oatmeal with minimal liquid so it's not slimy.  This is pretty slimy, BUT the crunchiness of the steel cut oats offsets it so I actually enjoy the texture of it. 

I should credit Sugar Free Mom for the recipe.  She also supplied the throw away one.  (She has some amazing healthy recipes and then she has some very healthy tasting recipes if you know what I mean)

Crock Pot Pumpkin Pie Steel Cut Oats

1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups water
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
optional: 1/2 cup honey

Combine all ingredients in your slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

Nutrition Info:
Servings: 4* Calories per serving: 171* Fat: 3g* Cholesterol: 0g* Sodium: 3g* Carbs: 32g* Fiber: 6g* Sugars: 3g* Protein: 6g* Points+: 4*

*w/o honey

Simple enough, right?  I added the honey and I think it turned out wonderfully.  Yesterday, I talked to my mom and she started telling me about a new recipe she tried and it was this one!  We had both tried it over the weekend and she added some pecans once it was done cooking to her bowl.  I liked that idea so this morning I garnished ours with pecans and I will definitely do that again.  As always, hope you like it!

My oatmeal this morning was in a to go container because I took it over to Katie's house so I thought I'd steal the pictures from Sugar Free Mom's website.  It's much prettier than mine would have been! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

No Bake Pumpkin Bites

K-State had a bye this weekend so I filled the time with some of my favorite things: yoga, trying new recipes and watching football.  Josh was on call over the weekend so Friday night and Saturday morning I went to a yoga workshop at my yoga studio.  An instructor from California was in town and he was AMAZING.  His name is Noah Maze (kind of a big deal in the yoga world) and here's a really quick clip just so you can get a glimpse of his awesomeness.

And, no, I can't do anything remotely close to what he just did.  Crazy, right?!

Saturday afternoon and evening I watched football and then Sunday was new recipe day.  I tried all extremely healthy pumpkin recipes and I think I found two keepers.  Possibly three, but I'd like someone else to try them first.  No big surprise here, but Josh won't touch anything pumpkin flavored. 

As you know, I'm slightly obsessed with no bake energy bites so last week when I saw this recipe on Pinterest I couldn't wait to try it.  Oh, and remember those figs I got at Trader Joe's that were horrible, but I didn't want to waste them?  I found a way to use them!

No Bake Pumpkin Energy Bites

8 oz. (about 1 packed cup) chopped dates
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp. chia seeds or flax seeds
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 cup old-fashioned oats (dry, not cooked)
1 cup toasted coconut flakes
1 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Combine the dates, honey, pumpkin puree, chia (or flax) seeds, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in a food processor, and pulse until smooth and combined.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, and stir in the oats, coconut flakes and pepitas until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Once the mixture is cool (and easier to work with), use a spoon or cookie scoop to shape it into your desired size of energy balls.  Alternately, you can line a small baking pan with parchment paper, and press the mixture evenly into the pan, let it cool, and then cut into bars. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. (Storing them in the refrigerator especially helps the energy bites hold their shape.)

That's the original recipe and I'm sure it's awesome, but I made some adjustments based on what I had in my kitchen already.  I didn't have dates so I used my figs.  I was thinking cranberries would be a great sub to try also.  I always use flaxseed, but last time I was at Trader Joe's I grabbed some chia seeds and I was excited to use them!

I also added an extra 1/2 cup of oats and omitted the coconut.  Lastly, I didn't have pumpkin seeds because I totally forgot I needed some so I used pecans.  Due to the peanut butter, I still think I like the original version of this better, but this is a great alternative.  It's like a bite of fall! 

Also, on a completely unrelated note...I am going to have to find a way to get to Chicago next Spring.

Who's with me?!