Recipe: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a sucker for anything pumpkin, regardless of the season. The same goes for chocolate, so it was love at first bite with these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

With just a few small tweaks, I made them a bit healthier (less sugar, some wheat flour) and even tastier — there’s nothing like a little salt in sweets.

They’re not your typical crispy-chewy cookie; the consistency is much softer and more moist. But they’re delicious and (somewhat) nutritious, thanks to the oats and pumpkin.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

(adapted from Taste of Home)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teastpoon salt
  • 1 15-oz can of pumpkin
  • 1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions: 

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  2. Combine the flours, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl; stir into creamed mixture alternately with pumpkin.
  3. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 12-13 minutes or until lightly browned.
  5. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 4 dozen.
What do you think about pumpkin — worth the hype, or overrated?

Recipe: Lemon Raspberry Greek Yogurt Muffins

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When life hands you lemons…MAKE MUFFINS!

It’s good to have a go-to recipe in your back pocket, whether someone stops by unexpectedly, you want to take a crowd-pleaser to an event or you’re looking for something special — yet simple — on a weekend morning.

Mine just happens to be lemon blueberry muffins; not only do I always seem to have the ingredients on hand, but they’ve never earned less than rave reviews (seriously, yogurt is the secret to tangy, moist, yummy muffins).

No blueberries? No problem. I experimented recently with a raspberry version that’s just as lovely — plus it’s lower in sugar and includes some extra nutrients and fiber thanks to the addition of wheat flour.

Lemon Raspberry Greek Yogurt Muffins

(recipe adapted from Running with Spoons)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. juice from 1 medium lemon
  • zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a muffin pan by spraying cavities with cooking spray or greasing them with oil. Set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine Greek yogurt and sugar, mixing until the sugar dissolves and the mixture becomes smooth. Add oil, honey, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest, mixing until well incorporated. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Gradually add flour mixture to yogurt mixture, mixing gently until just combined. Fold in berries.
  5. Divide batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, filling about 3/4 of the way full. Batter will be on the thicker side, so use a spoon to scoop it in. Sprinkle with additional berries, if desired.
  6. Bake muffins for 20-22 minutes, or until top is firm to the touch and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool in pan for ~10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Got any go-to recipes that you’ve relied on over the years?

Recipe: Three Ingredient Nutella Brownies

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While these aren’t exactly healthy, per se, they do hit the spot when you’re hit with a craving for super-fudgy brownies and have very few ingredients on hand.

Just three, to be exact: Eggs, salt and Nutella. Yes, Nigella Lawson is a genius.

And if Nutella’s not a staple in your pantry, well, then it’s a great excuse to stock up because this dessert is a surefire crowd-pleaser!

Three Ingredient Nutella Brownies

(original recipe here)

Ingredients: 

  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 2 pinches of fine sea salt
  • 1 cup Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line the base and sides of an 8-in.-square cake pan with parchment paper.
  2. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat eggs and one pinch of salt on high until mixture doubles in size and is pale and mousse-like (about 5 minutes).
  3. Place Nutella in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat for about 1 minute, stirring after 30 seconds, or until slightly runny.
  4. With mixer on medium-high, slowly drizzle all of the heated Nutella into the eggs until fully combined (the volume of the eggs will decrease).
  5. Pour mixture into prepared pan, sprinkle with another pinch of sea salt, and bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool completely in the pan (about an hour) before removing from pan. Cut into 16 squares and serve.
Are you a Nutella fan, or no? If, so, what’s your favorite way to savor the spread?

Recipe: “Angeled” Eggs

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What’s not to love about eggs?!

They’re cheap, easy to make and super versatile — not to mention full of protein, fats and 12+ vitamins and minerals — which is why they’re a staple in our house, particularly these past few months during ’round-the-clock eating and bun-in-the-oven baking.

Ben’s favorite way to consume them is something he calls the “poor man’s deviled egg,” a recipe he created in college. Ready for it? You grab a hard-boiled egg, and squirt yellow mustard on it in between bites, usually while standing over the kitchen sink.

While I can’t knock his, uh, creativity…stomach space is at a premium these days, so I need something that packs a bit more of a punch in the nutrient density department.

Enter “Angeled” Eggs. By replacing the usual mayo with a healthy zing of hummus, you’ll not only save a few calories but also add extra protein, iron and fiber into one incredible little snack.

“Angeled” Eggs

(adapted from PopSugar’s recipe here)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 dozen hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 16-ounce container hummus
  • Smoked paprika

Directions: 

  1. Remove shells from hard-boiled eggs while rinsing under cool water to help separate.
  2. Cut eggs in half lengthwise, carefully scoop out yolks and place them in a bowl.
  3. Mash yolks with a fork. Add hummus, and mix together until creamy.
  4. Spoon the egg mixture into the egg-white halves. Top with a pinch of smoked paprika, and serve immediately.
Got any quick, easy & healthy egg recipes to share? I’m always on the lookout!

15 Healthy Snacks for the Pregnancy Homestretch

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Combine shrinking stomach space and a temperamental tummy with the mounting nutritional needs of growing a baby, and you’ve got a potential recipe for pregnancy disaster.

Case in point: When an earlier ultrasound revealed that Baby H might be measuring behind, my doctor had me double down on healthy fats, cut back on exercise and increase meal frequency. Now we know it was just a wonky measurement due to breech positioning, but nothing like another dip on the emotional roller-coaster that comes with being a first-time mom! 

Normal-sized meals may be out the window, and lack of time and energy can make it tempting to grab whatever’s nearby (or cave in to cravings) so I’ve been relying heavily on snacking. Having the following 15 mini-meals in my arsenal have been key to putting my mind at ease — and keeping my blood sugar levels from dropping.

1. Protein Shakes. Convenient grab-and-go-option for a quick shot of protein and calcium; my go-to is banana, ice, protein powder, peanut butter and milk in my trusty immersion blender.

2. Cheese Sticks & Crackers. Protein, calcium and just the right amount of carbs when you’re craving something salty and starchy.

3. Fruit with Nut Butter. Think of your usual apples, bananas and pears as a blank canvas for all the great butter flavors and blends out there.

4. Guacamole. Avocados are a wonderful source of good fats, and they’re especially delicious as a zesty dip (for chips) or spread (for sandwiches).

5. Cereal & Milk. Although my current favorite is shredded wheat with fruit in the middle (fiber!), I’ve eaten my fair share of fortified kids’ cereals without guilt these past nine-plus months.

6. Yogurt, Granola & Berries. One of my very favorite breakfasts, this parfait delivers good protein, nutrients and fiber without being too filling.

7. Oatmeal & Mix-ins. Pick a theme — sweet or savory — and there’s no limit to the amount of good stuff that can be packed into one bowl!

8. Fresh Fruit. Delicious, portable, bursting with nutrients and full of flavor, I aim for a few servings a day to add variety to my diet.

9. Hard-Boiled Eggs. Incredible and edible, these protein-packed bites are a great way to stay satiated between meals and keep energy levels steady.

10. Dried Fruit & Nuts. Mix and match for a sweet and salty treat that’s great for taking with you for anywhere, anytime snacking.

11. Ants on a Log. Don’t discount the old childhood throwback! Spread your favorite peanut butter on celery sticks, and top with raisins.

12. Cottage Cheese & Sunflower Seeds. I know, I know…it’s a weird combo. But don’t knock it ’til you try it — the creamy, crunchy, savory flavors hit the spot.

13. Dates With Cream Cheese & Walnuts. Halve dates, fill with a smear of cream cheese and top with a walnut. Also makes an elegant appetizer!

14. Baby Carrots & Hummus. When you’ve got a craving for crunch, nothing does the trick quite like this sweet, tangy combination.

15. Healthy Bars. Make your own or pick up a few favorites (mine are KIND, LUNA and Larabar) to pack in your purse for when hanger strikes.

What are your favorite pregnancy (and non-pregnancy!) snacks? 

Recipe: Zest Nutrition’s Sweet & Spicy Walnuts

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When your doctor suggests that you double down on healthy fats to help your baby pack on the pounds in its last few weeks in utero, you happily oblige. Especially when you know you’ve got friends with something delicious up their sleeves to help perk up plain old nuts.

Typically, candied nuts are coated in butter and refined white sugar. But Megan and Anna, the brilliant minds behind Zest Nutrition, created a recipe that uses egg white instead of butter and maple syrup and coconut sugar for natural sweetness.

These tasty tidbits are their creation, which totally hit when spot when you’re looking for a quick sweet-n-savory snack. In fact, they’re downright addictive. You’ve been warned!

Sweet & Spicy Walnuts

(via Zest Nutrition)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups walnut halves
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Coat walnuts in egg white and maple syrup.
  3. Stir together remaining ingredients and toss with walnut mixture.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, option to stir halfway through.
  5. Allow to cool completely before storing. Flavors enhance once nuts have cooled and the crunch has set in.
How do you incorporate healthy fats into your diet?

‘Boning Up’ on the Bone Broth Trend (+ DIY Recipe)

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“We are indeed much more than we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.” – Adele Davis

If you’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about bone broth recently, you’re not alone. But what exactly is the difference between stock, broth, consomme, and bouillon? And why are people raving over bone broth, in particular, for its healing and nourishing benefits?

With those questions in mind, I popped into the ZOOM+Performance lab last week to learn more from the first of their lunchtime classes. Local expert Tressa Yellig from Salt, Fire & Time was on hand to educate us about this savory elixir and how she believes it’s one of the simplest and most powerful food remedies you can have at your disposal.

According to Yellig, bone broth stands head and shoulders above other stock-type liquids because it’s cooked for a long time (up to three days) over a low heat (roughly 180 degrees) in order to extract all the good stuff — gelatin, nutrients and minerals — from bones.

So what else makes bone broth so special? Well,  for starters it’s rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, silicon, phosphorous, sulphur and other trace minerals, meaning it’s nutrient-dense. Plus, it contains a host of other unique and powerful substances, including marrow, cartilage, glycine, proline, collagen and gelatin, which are thought to help support the immune system, reduce inflammation and promote healing.

What I found most interesting, however, is when Yellig talked about bone broth also being a “protein sparer,” which means that it helps create adequate nutrition in the short-term absence of protein (read: when you’re sick and the last thing you feel like eating is a hunk of meat). Not to mention it hits the spot on these cold and dreary Portland winter days…

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Bone broth can be enjoyed as it is (with a little salt to enhance the flavor). Yellig also suggested experimenting with it as a base for soups, stews, sauces, gravy, cooking grains, vegetables, savory baked goods or with beans.

It’s pretty simple to make, so if you’ve got the time or inclination she shared this recipe to help you get your bone broth on at home:

Basic Bone Broth

(courtesy of Salt, Fire & Time)

Ingredients: 

  • About 1 pound of mixed bones per quart of purified water
  • Splash of vinegar (cider, red or white wine, rice or lemon juice)
  • Vegetables and herbs for flavor (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Place bones in a medium to large stock pot and add water to cover.
  2. Mix in the splash of vinegar and allow to sit at room temperature for about an hour. Note: If there’s a lot of meat on the bones, roast them first for flavor. 
  3. Bring the pot up to a gentle simmer (about 180 degrees) and allow to continue for 8-72 hours
  4. Add the vegetables and herbs in the middle of your cooking time.
  5. Strain out he bones, vegetables and herbs, and allow to cool.
  6. Package in glass containers for refrigerator storage (2 weeks) or plastic freezer bags or ice trays for freezer storage (3 months).

Or if the prospect of babysitting a simmering pot on the stove for a few days is too daunting, you can always swing by Yellig’s Broth Bar here in Portland. She offers a bunch of condiments, stir-ins and add-ons to customize each steaming cup to your liking.

Not local? You’re in luck. Salt, Fire & Time also has an online shop that ships all kinds of delicious goodies ’round the country.

Are you on the bone broth bandwagon? Why or why not?