Eat Clean This Spring

With the first day of spring approaching on March 20th, here in Chicago we can’t wait to shed our winter blues (and coats, hats, scarves, and gloves) and eat clean with more sunshine bringing more veggies, fruits and whole grains!

For more vegetables, we are roasting in season veggies like asparagus at 425 degrees for 20-30 minutes until tender and a little crispy with a drizzle of EVOO, sea salt and pepper. Don’t forget right when they come of the oven, try adding a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh shredded Parmesan cheese on top. It is easy and yummy to eat clean!

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For more whole grains, start off our day or enjoy as a snack with Jolly Oak (OF COURSE)! Try your favorite flavor on Greek Yogurt or with almond milk. Perfect energy before a workout or to power through the rest of your day.

For less sugar, enjoy fresh fruit dressed up with chocolate sauce on the side. Or, try blending fruit like frozen sliced bananas, frozen mango or frozen strawberries with a little almond milk and mini chocolate chips for the best homemade sorbet!

For spring, enjoy Jolly Oak at our lowest price ever at 50% off with code JOSPRING50 at www.jollyoak.com. Offer expires March 30, 2015.

Pan Roasted Flat Iron Steak with Help From Madison & Rayne

I prefer meals that are simple and quick to cook. Recently, I was at an event and tried a heavenly chicken quinoa. When the woman serving it said I could easily cook it at home, I was intrigued. With a little help from Madison & Rayne, a new Chicago food delivery service from Josh Jones, who was a chef at Spring Restaurant, you can transform into the fancy chef at home (minus the hard parts)!

My kids helped me choose and cook the Pan Roasted Flat Iron Steak, which also came with a watercress salad with faro, shaved vegetables, and a delicious homemade balsamic dressing. My son declared the steak “fabulous”! Even better, the delicious meal presented beautifully!

I was apprehensive at first when choosing what meal to order because the recipes sounded complex, but the ingredients came easily labeled and fresh. All ingredients are from local farms. Even the watercress had a damp paper towel in the bag to keep it crispy.

Each recipe comes with a card with easy to follow directions. My glamorous meal took all of 15 minutes! No stopping at the grocery store for ingredients, no measuring, and no chopping. Madison & Rayne is a personal shopper and delivery service all rolled into one. Minimal prep and minimal clean-up means my time is better spent enjoying dinner! It really was simple after all!

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Save time and break up the monotony of cooking the same meals each week. Enjoy as a family or put those kiddos to bed and take pleasure in a restaurant style meal in the comforts of your own home! Order at www.madisonandrayne.com.

Granola Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches

Granola is not just for breakfast! It tastes delicious in one of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes. This recipe is healthier than the typical chocolate chip cookie, but I promise, it tastes just as decadent! And with it being summer, my kids turn these cookies into ice cream cookie sandwiches! This is super fun to make after camp and super fun to eat for dessert! Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

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Granola Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cookie Recipe

Ingredients:

1 ½ stick unsalted butter- softened

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

½ cup white sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1 cup quick oats

2 cups or 4 servings of Jolly Oak Granola in Nut Free Dark Chocolate Coconut Raisin

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp sea salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Your favorite ice cream flavor

Toppings for sides of cookie: sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, mini M&Ms, etc.

Directions:

1.)  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.)  In a large bowl, mix butter, applesauce, white sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla.  Add eggs, oats, granola, flour, baking soda, and salt.  Mix.

3.)  Add chocolate chips.

4.)  Bake cookies 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow cookies time to cool before making them into ice cream sandwiches or the ice cream will melt once it touches the hot cookie.

5.)  Leave desired ice cream flavor out about 15 minutes before planning to make the sandwiches.

6.)  Using a spoon, scoop out ice cream and cover one side of cookie with ½ inch thick of ice cream. Top ice cream with another cookie.

7.)  For extra kid fun and a mess (sorry!), on separate plates, pour out toppings for the sides of the cookies- rainbow sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, mini M&Ms, and coconut flakes, etc. Have fun making up your own!

8.)  Roll each cookie so that the ice cream is covered.

9.)  If not eating right away, use parchment paper on a baking sheet or in a container so cookie sandwiches don’t stick and place cookies into freezer until ready to eat!

Healthy Turkey Burger Recipe

Summer brings lots of BBQs and burgers! I love all kinds from the typical greasy cheeseburger, healthy veggie burger, and my favorite, a turkey burger! Here is my stand by turkey burger recipe that will satisfy any burger craving.

My kids get SUPER messy with this recipe! I let them do all the hard work by using their hands to mush and mix the ingredients together and then form the perfect patties. It is quite entertaining to watch and a great pre-dinner activity! Get messy (sorry this one is really messy)! Have fun! And eat healthy!

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Ingredients– serves 4

1 ½  lbs ground white turkey breast

¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs

½ red onion- diced

¼ cup ketchup

4 slices Swiss cheese or American cheese

sea salt to taste

pepper to taste

Directions:

1.)   In a big bowl, mix together the meat, breadcrumbs, onion, and ketchup.

2.)   Make 4 patties and season both sides with salt and pepper.

3.)   Use an outdoor grill or grill pan indoors and cook both sides of the burger until cooked through.

4.)   Top burger with cheese until it melts if desired and finish off with your favorite burger fixings such as avocado, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, etc.

Healthy Fruit & Yogurt Popsicles

I haven’t tried this recipe for Fruit and Yogurt Popsicles yet, but it is our morning activity to enjoy for later this sunny afternoon! My kids love when I put them in charge of recipes. They are always entertained using the blender and watching it crush everything. Creating their own popsicle is going to be a fun and healthy treat! No scary Red 40 ingredient usually found in popsicles here!

For a fun bonus, allow your kids to use their imagination and put out a variety of sweet additions for everyone to make their popsicle their own. I am thinking rainbow sprinkles (for my daughter), mini chocolate chips (for me), and crushed Oreos (for my son)! Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

What flavor popsicles did your family make?

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Fresh Fruit and Yogurt Popsicles

 Ingredients:

2 cups your kids favorite fruit- any berry or bananas work great

2 cups vanilla yogurt or plain yogurt

¼ cup honey

½ cup Rainbow sprinkles or mini chocolate chips or crushed Oreos- you pick!!

10 small Dixie cups- 4 ounce size

10 wooden sticks

Directions:

1.)  In a blender, combine fresh fruit, yogurt and honey until smooth.

2.)  Fill paper cups about ¾ full and cover each cup with aluminum foil.

3.)  Poke a stick through the center of the foil of each cup.

4.)  Make room in your freezer and freeze for at least 5 hours.

5.)  To serve, defrost for about 5-8 minutes and then peel off foil and cups.

Ground Sirloin with Spinach and Black Bean Taquito Recipe

My kids requested steak tacos tonight. I didn’t have steak or taco shells, but I did just watch Giada At Home and remembered her turkey taquito recipe. I altered it to fit my family’s request, made it a tad healthier, and this is what we came up with.

My daughter and son loved this crunchy and healthy dinner! They had fun dipping the taquitos in salsa and guacamole. It was a fun change to taco night. Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

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Ground Sirloin with Spinach and Black Bean Taquitos Recipe

Ingredients:

1 lbs ground sirloin

about 6-8 corn tortillas

2 cups baby spinach- chopped

½ onion- chopped

1 can black beans- drained and rinsed

½ cup low fat cheddar cheese

1 tbsp olive oil

 1 tsp hamburger seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1.)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.)  In a sauté pan on medium high heat, add olive oil for 30 seconds. Then add chopped onion and caramelize for about 5-7 minutes.

3.)  Add ground sirloin to the onion and sprinkle on hamburger seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Chop meat and stir until meat browns.

4.)  Pour in black beans, and using a fork, mash the black beans right into the pan.

5.)  Add spinach and a little more salt and pepper to taste. Blend until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.

6.)  In a separate pan, warm to medium heat and spray with olive oil spray. Warm tortillas on both sides for 30 seconds.

7.)  Fill each tortilla with the meat mixture at one end and roll so the tortilla is completely wrapped where both ends are overlapping.

8.)  Spray a 9×13 baking dish and side by side place rolled up tacos. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top.

9.)  Bake taquitos for 25-30 minutes.

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!

Peanut-Butter-and-Jelly-Muffins

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!

Baked Whole Wheat Pita Chips and Practicing Shapes

We are going on a boat ride today! For our boat picnic, we were asked to pack a snack. I noticed a package of unopened pita in the corner of my kitchen, which sparked one of my favorite easy healthy snack recipes! Homemade baked pita chips!

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I was diligently cutting (use cooking scissors- makes cutting so easy) the pita into triangles, when my son who was waiting patiently to paint on the olive oil, suggested we cut the pita into all different shapes! He would call out the shape and I would cut it. Learning, cooking, and laughing at the same time!

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Get creative with shapes!

My son was excited to paint each shape with olive oil and sprinkle on the spices. Best of all, he LOVED our homemade pita chips! He ate so many before we even boarded the boat! The rest of our friends also enjoyed this crunchy, healthy, and delicious snack! Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

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5 simple ingredients.

Baked Pita Chips:

1 package whole wheat pita bread- I bought whole wheat high fiber pita from Whole Foods

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp sea salt

1 tbsp pepper- freshly grinded

1 tbsp dried oregano

1.)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut pita into triangles or your child’s favorite shapes. Get creative!

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2.)  Lay pita shapes onto a large baking sheet and lightly spread oil over each shape.

3.)  Sprinkle each pita shape with salt, pepper, and oregano.

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Cooking with our Farmers Market Finds

Today was a long work day but I had so much basil from the Farmers Market this weekend, I had to cook with basil! Although my son said he was exhausted from his long day of camp, the minute I started pounding the chicken, he was at my side to help! Making a mess, of course, but helping!

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Fresh Basil. Smells so yummy!

Both my kids wanted to use the basil and the yellow zucchini they picked out themselves this weekend. They were excited to rinse the basil, rip it, and add it to the chicken and vegetables!

My husband, my sister (in town visiting for Lollapalooza), my children, and I sat around the table for a healthy and yummy family dinner! I was extremely happy with the way our farmers market finds turned into an amazing dinner! Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

Basil Lemon Chicken Recipe:

1 ½ lbs chicken breasts- pounded thin

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 lemon- fresh squeezed

salt to taste

pepper to taste

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp fresh basil- shredded

1.)  Pound chicken breasts thin.

2.)  In a bowl, add chicken, sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste, dried spices, lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh basil.

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Marinating the chicken.

3.)  Cover with aluminum foil and marinate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours.

4.)  Grill chicken, about 6 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

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Loved the sweet taste of yellow zucchini.

Yellow Zucchini and Broccoli with Basil Recipe:

2 yellow zucchini- sliced thin

2 bunches broccoli- chopped into bite size pieces

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

salt to taste

pepper to taste

garlic powder to taste

2 cups marinara sauce

1 cup Parmesan cheese- freshly shredded

1 tbsp fresh basil- shredded

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We used the basil! It was delicious!

1.)  In a large pan on medium high heat, add olive oil and vegetables.

2.)  Sprinkle on salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

3.)  Stir vegetables frequently for 5 minutes.

4.)  Lower heat to medium low and pour in marinara sauce. Stir for 1 minute.

5.)  Add Parmesan cheese and basil. Stir for 3 minutes. Serve along side Basil Chicken.