Skinny Warm Apple Pie Sundae

If you live in Chicago, it still feels like winter! My son requested a warm dessert tonight. He loves apple pie so I created a much healthier version and, even better, he helped make it!

We chopped up two apples, which I didn’t have time to peel, but feel free. He sprinkled on the cinnamon and poured in the water. He even enjoyed setting the microwave timer, watching every minute go by and stopping and starting it. When the apple was soft, we topped the apple mixture with vanilla frozen yogurt and crunchy granola. He gave a big thumbs up! Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

gluten-free-apple-pie-parfaits

Warm Apple Pie Sundae- 2 servings

2 apples- diced (Use your favorite flavor.)

½ tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp water

½ cup vanilla frozen yogurt

½ cup granola (I used 1 package Jolly Oak Blueberry Crunch Granola.)

Directions:

1.)  In a microwave safe bowl, combine diced apple, cinnamon, and 2 tbsp water.

2.)  Microwave mixture for about 3-4 minutes. Stopping at each minute and stirring until apple is soft.

3.)  Equally divide warm apple mixture into 2 serving bowls. For each bowl, add ¼ cup vanilla frozen yogurt and ½ bag of Jolly Oak Blueberry Crunch Granola.

Skinny PB & Jelly Muffins

Here is a fun twist on your usual PB & J sandwich. Turn it into a muffin with nutritious ingredients! I used whole wheat flour for fiber, a touch of ground flaxseeds for omega-3s, and vanilla Greek yogurt for protein and sweetness.

Both my kids helped prepare these easy muffins. They mixed, measured, and carefully concentrated on adding the jelly to the middle. They turned out delicious for breakfast and an afternoon healthy snack! Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

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Skinny PB & Jelly Muffins

Yields 12 muffins

1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour

3 tbsp ground flaxseed

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp sea salt

1/4 cup sugar

¾ cup fat free milk or almond milk

2/3 cup natural peanut butter

½ cup vanilla Greek yogurt

2 eggs

¼ cup your favorite jelly (My daughter picked raspberry.)

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.) In a large bowl, combine flour, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and sugar.

3.) Add in milk, PB, yogurt, and eggs until smooth.

4.) Fill muffin cups half full with batter and then add 1 tsp jelly.

5.) Fill rest of muffin cups with remaining batter.

6.) Bake 15 minutes or until lightly golden in color.

7.) Let muffins cool before enjoying!

Summertime Activity with Simple Strawberry Shortcake

I asked one of my friends who I consider healthy if she had a strawberry shortcake recipe. It is one of my favorite summer desserts, and I had never baked it from scratch!

Her recipe entailed store bought angel food cake, smothered in Cool Whip, and decorated with strawberries. I will admit it, I have also created strawberry shortcake this way and it is delicious and a time saver! However, in honor of National Strawberry Shortcake Day (honestly, who declares this?), I figured I would bake it from scratch for a fun afternoon activity with my kids (I could not go to the park or get in a pool again today)!
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While I have always considered this dessert a healthier choice, as I researched recipes, it is loaded with sugar and butter! Here is my version (which I simplified and healthified (and made up a word)) to celebrate this beloved summer dessert!

My daughter loves her Strawberry Shortcake Doll and was excited to bake! My son wanted to know what superpowers Strawberry Shortcake possessed and was disappointed that she does not shoot berries or have super strength; however, he was not disappointed in the fun mess we made (and baking this entertained them for an hour)!

When I served this dessert, my guests could not believe I baked it from scratch or that it was healthier than other strawberry shortcake. My daughter enjoyed the shortcake without topping it with whipped cream or sweetened strawberries. I divided my recipe into three simple steps. Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

Simple Strawberry Shortcake Recipe:

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The Strawberries:

16 oz fresh strawberries- hull (slice off tops) and cut into cut into pieces

2 tbsp white sugar (measuring utilizes math skills)

The Shortcake:

1/3 cup white sugar

2 cups white flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

2 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

¼ cup cold unsalted butter- slice into the batter

¼ cup applesauce

1 cup low fat milk

1 tbsp lemon juice

The Whipped Cream (this part is MAGICAL to kids):

1 cup heavy cream (make sure the cream is cold, it will whip better- thanks for this tip from my friend who is a pastry chef!)

2 tbsp powdered sugar

1.)  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2.)  In a bowl, toss cut strawberries with 2 tbsp sugar. Set aside.

3.)  In a mixer, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in butter pieces, milk, and lemon juice.

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4.)  Sprinkle flour on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pat dough flat onto parchment paper (warning- dough is sticky) and form a giant rectangle.

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5.)  Thoroughly sprinkle white sugar over dough.

6.)  Bake 22-25 minutes or until golden around the edges. Allow time to cool before slicing.

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7.)  If you are ambitious and want homemade whipped cream, it is SUPER EASY and kids find whipping cream magical! In a mixer combine cream and powdered sugar until peaks form (this means your whipped cream is ready!).  *If short on time, Cool Whip is a pretty darn good substitute but don’t tell my pastry chef friend that!

8.)  Slice the shortbread into servings. My batter produced about 12 big pieces. When ready to serve, layer with whipped cream and sweetened strawberries.

Creamy Pasta with Asparagus (Using Yogurt instead of Cream)

When it rains, it pours! First, it was Badger Girl’s Guest Blog last week, then What to Expect When You’re Expecting’s Mom site, and yesterday I was featured on NPN’s website. I was also asked to teach another legal writing class for international students! Thank you Healthfull Ever After followers! It is pouring! I like keeping busy!

Today was my son’s last day of school. His school ended with a bang on the field! Pizza, a DJ, popsicles, and water fights. As we were leaving, he wanted me to read his yearbook. He asked me questions about some pictures.  “Who is this? What does this person do?” Then he asked me what I do.

I answered with, “I am your mom.” He was not satisfied. “I thought you were a teacher for obeying the law?” He continued, “do you cook for them, and why do you take pictures of food.” I explained that I am also a food writer and photographer, and I write for a website. “Is it Google?” he asked. He is 4! How does he know about Google!  After realizing he wasn’t going to get a clear answer, since I don’t exactly know how to describe what I do either, he passed out in his car seat (LOVE when that happens).

I enjoyed the peaceful and quiet ride home, dreaming up what I was going to stir up for dinner! And this is what we created! The whole family was happy with this simple yet tasty and healthy pasta dish! Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

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I first tried the pasta with chicken sausage, but we voted at dinner. This pasta is SO good it doesn’t need anything else!

Creamy (but not using cream, using yogurt) Pasta with Asparagus Recipe:
10 oz noodle of choice- I used whole grain Barrilla Plus Thin Spaghetti

½ cup favorite marinara sauce- I prefer Rao’s

3 tbsp 2% plain Greek yogurt- I like Fage 2% Greek Yogurt

¼ cup Parmesan cheese- freshly shredded (if you have time)

a pinch of crushed red pepper (more if prefer a spicy sauce)

1 bunch asparagus- roasted (see older post on roasted asparagus or a quick recap: bake 425 degrees for 20 minutes, drizzle on 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste)

1.)  Cook pasta according to package directions.

2.)  Once pasta is cooked, rinse noodles and pour noodles back into the same pot. It is okay if there is a little water left over.

3.) In the pot with the noodles, put heat on low, add marinara sauce, Greek yogurt, cheese, and crushed red pepper. Stir for about 3 minutes or until hot.

4.) Cut the asparagus into pieces, blend, and add to pasta.

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake

Happy Early Mother’s Day!

While my daughter napped this afternoon, my son and I baked my easy, delicious Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake.

With Mother’s Day around the corner, this simple, scrumptious, and pretty cake is the perfect sweet touch for a Mother’s Day brunch, lunch, or dinner! Kid bonus- my son utilized his math skills while measuring the ingredients (he eats the chocolate chips and practices subtraction)! Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

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Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake Recipe

baking spray

1 package yellow cake mix (I bought Pillsbury Classic Yellow)

1 3.4oz vanilla instant pudding

4 eggs

¾ cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup 2% Greek yogurt

1 tsp vanilla

¾ cup chocolate chips

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1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.) Grease Bundt pan with baking spray.

3.) In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until smooth. My son had fun measuring, pouring, and stirring.

4.) Pour batter into Bundt pan and bake for 36-42 minutes or until the fork test comes out clean.

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Pantry Essentials

Several of my loyal readers (I hope you are having fun cooking!) have asked me to list my pantry favorites. Great Question! Have fun shopping!

Pepper (with a grinder built in)

Sea Salt

Cinnamon

Cumin

Vanilla

Rosemary

Oregano

Garlic Powder

Nutmeg

Parsley

Basil

Honey

Sesame Oil

Unsweetened Applesauce

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Black Beans

Garbanzo Beans

Cannellini Beans

Whole Grain Noodles- lasagna, penne, angel hair, spaghetti, rigatoni

Quinoa

Instant Brown Rice

Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs

Diced Walnuts

Pistachio Nuts

German Mustard (aka Dijon Mustard)

Ketchup

Quick Oats

Old-Fashioned Oats

Wasabi Peas

Balsamic Vinegar

Chocolate Chips

Cocoa Powder

White Sugar

Light Brown Sugar

Darn Brown Sugar

Powdered Sugar

Whole Wheat Flour

Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

White Flour

Baking Powder

Baking Soda

Yellow Cake Mix

Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix

Marinara Sauce (I love Rao’s Homemade Sauce)

Nutella

Peanut Butter

Low Sodium Soy Sauce

Dried Cherries

Raisins

Olive Oil Cooking Spray

Baking Spray

Canola Oil

Canned Diced Tomatoes

Canned Pumpkin

Canned Artichoke Hearts

This should be a good start! You can find most of these pantry staples at Target (excellent selection and low prices). Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

Go Bananas

Sometimes I feel like I am going bananas, especially when the kids are home this week for spring break!

Today my daughter was whining for a banana while we were driving in the car (don’t you love when they are screaming while you are driving?).

When we got home, my daughter did not forget about the banana.  Unfortunately, all my bananas were rotten!  I have so many healthy and delicious recipes for bananas (you will have to check in periodically to read them all).

Here is the super simple and healthy banana recipe I quickly whipped up this afternoon while my kids were running around the house acting like monkeys.  Yes, they were actually jumping and making monkey noises!  They like to pretend our house is a zoo!

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Baking sprayBanana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe– bakes 6 cookies

1 cup applesauce

2 bananas- mashed (the more ripe the banana, the sweeter the cookie)

1 cup quick oats

½ tsp baking soda

4 child handfuls of chocolate chips

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1.)  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.)  On a baking sheet, spray on baking spray.

3.)  In a mixing bowl, combine applesauce, bananas, oats, and baking soda.  Mix.

4.)  Drop in chocolate chips.  Mix.

5.)  With a tablespoon, place cookies 1 inch apart and slightly flatten each cookie with bottom of spoon.

6.)  Bake 13-15 minutes or until edges of cookies turn a slight brown.

     This healthy sweet treat tastes decadent when served warm.  Reheat cookies and enjoy for breakfast as a spin on classic oatmeal.  Get messy!  Have fun!  And eat healthy!

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Pasta Party

Tonight my husband danced through the front door singing, “pasta party!”  Our kids jumped up and down chanting, “pasta party!”  That is how tonight’s healthy meal started.
I rummaged through my pantry (which desperately needs to be reorganized) and found my favorite multigrain noodles and marinara sauce.  Now that you are starting to know me, I needed to add a healthy twist.  My son knew exactly where to turn.  Yesterday we received our Door to Door Organics box.  He thinks the local farmers send us a present every week!  He went into our produce drawer and pulled out carrots and broccoli.  Brilliant!

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Tonight’s family fun messy meal was Multigrain Pasta with Chicken, Broccoli, & Carrots 

Multigrain Pasta with Chicken, Broccoli, and Carrot Recipe
three quarters of a 14.5oz box of multigrain pasta (my family prefers Barilla Plus spaghetti noodles)
olive oil cooking spray- enough to cover the entire pan
1 pound chicken breast (use cooking scissors to cut the chicken into bite size strips- cooking scissors are a MUST in your kitchen)
2 long carrot sticks- chopped
2 broccoli bunches- chopped
1 cup marinara sauce
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (I always use freshly shredded.  If you don’t own a grater- buy one!  So fun for kids who are old enough not to cut their fingers on it!)
salt and pepper to taste
1.) Boil noodles according to package directions.  Drain, rinse, and set noodles aside in pot (you will use it again).
2.) In a sauté pan, heat olive oil spray on medium high heat for 1 minute.  Add chicken strips, season with salt and pepper while in pan, and sauté for 6-8 minutes or until chicken turns golden in color or is cooked through.
3.) In the pan with the chicken, add 1/2 cup marinara sauce, carrots, and broccoli and stir for 5 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
4.) Back to the pot with the cooked noodles, mix in 1/2 cup marinara sauce, chicken and veggie mixture, and Parmesan cheese.
5.) Put pot on medium heat for 3 minutes and blend.
My husband had two helpings, my daughter’s face was covered in red sauce with a smile, my son said his spaghetti was worth putting Curious George on pause for, and I cooked one healthy meal tonight!  Get messy!  Have fun!  And eat healthy!

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This morning I attended a school function for my son (it was fabulous until the teacher announced that the kids did not need to finish out the school day – it was 10:30am!!).  While at school, several moms approached me telling me how much they liked my blog🙂  THANKS!

They also asked what I planned on cooking for dinner tonight.  I had to think fast and strategize!  I was not sure what I had in the refrigerator, I now have both kids with me all day, my daughter’s nap to consider, my son’s basketball class later this afternoon, and I wanted to run for 30 minutes.

With all this on the itinerary today, tonight’s healthy family dinner is whole grain breaded tilapia with steamed broccoli on the side.  After naptime and before basketball, we took a field trip to the local fish store!  Going to the fish store is always a fun activity.  My kids love watching the lobsters and crabs swim in the tank and the sleeping fish on ice (I don’t have the heart to tell them the truth about the fish).  My daughter walked out of the fish store whispering, “nighty night.”
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Ingredients for a family of 4:
Here is my Whole Grain Breaded Tilapia Recipe.  My family LOVES this delicious, fast (literally 15 minutes from start to finish), easy, and healthy recipe.

1 ½ lbs tilapia (have the store take off the skin and cut the fish into 4 filets)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp pepper- freshly grinded right onto the fish

1/3 cup whole grain bread crumbs or panko crumbs

2 tbsp olive oil

      1.) Season both sides of tilapia with salt and pepper.

      2.) In a medium bowl, pour breadcrumbs.

      3.) Dip fish into breadcrumbs and cover completely.

      4.) In a large frying pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat and add fish for 3 minutes on each side or until the fish is completely cooked through.

My son loves to dip the filets in the breadcrumbs. Get messy!  Have fun!  And eat healthy!
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Cookies

My son begged me to bake cookies with him after his bath last night.  Whenever one of my children wants to bake, it doesn’t matter what time it is, they know I am a sucker for baking. 

Realizing the late hour, I whipped up my fastest cookie recipe.  My peanut butter cookies are the healthiest, easiest recipe ever!  After gathering the four ingredients, measuring (peanut butter is a bit tricky to pour), and mixing the batter, the cookies were in the oven turning a beautiful golden color.  Twelve minutes to perfection and both my son and I were enjoying a late night healthy dose of protein with a touch of sugar before bed.  Sweet peanutty dreams!
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Here is the recipe for these healthy, super easy, and most delicious peanut butter cookies ever! BAKE AWAY!

Ingredients:

2 cups crunchy peanut butter

¾ cup white sugar

1 egg

1 tsp baking soda

Baking spray

1.)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.)  Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir until smooth.

3.)  Place 1 heaping tbsp of batter onto greased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.

4.)  With the back of a fork, flatten slightly- about a quarter of an inch thick.

5.)  Bake cookies for 10-13 minutes or until cookies appear golden brown around the edges.