Tag Archives: cooking

Skinny Chocolate Peanut Butter Birthday Cupcakes

22 Apr
I'm getting hungry just looking at these little beauties.

I’m getting hungry just looking at these little beauties.

My husband turned the big 3-0 last week! Yay! Now, I still have approximately one year and four months until I hit that milestone, so I can enjoy taunting him that I’m still in my 20’s and he’s not. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, and he is one lucky man to have such a mature little wife.

Turning Cupcakes Into Low-Calorie Foods

When I asked my he wanted for his birthday dessert, my husband requested that I whip up a batch of cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes to be specific. That’s when my mission to figure out how to make cupcakes in a healthier manner began.

If you’re thinking that I’m crazy and cupcakes cannot ever be placed in the low-calorie foods category, you are sorely mistaken my friend. I strongly believe that anything can be lightened up, including birthday cupcakes.

As usual when I’m looking for a delicious low-fat recipe, I headed to Skinnytaste and found exactly what I was looking for. And no, although the reindeer are pretty fantastic, I decided they probably weren’t appropriate for a 30 year old’s birthday. I’m certain this recipe will reappear at Christmas time though…

To turn cupcakes into healthy desserts, apparently all you have to do is alter the ingredients you add to boxed cake mix. Why didn’t I know about this years ago?! Instead of adding the standard vegetable oil, eggs, and water to the mix, you simply swap it for plain Greek yogurt, egg whites, and water. I used Pillsbury Sugar Free Devil’s Food Premium Cake Mix, but you can use any brand and flavor you desire.

Plain Greek yogurt is the most versatile food on the planet.

Plain Greek yogurt is the most versatile food on the planet.

So, if you dared to say that cupcakes can’t be turned into low calorie foods, eat these nutrition stats (per cupcake):

  • Calories: 87

  • Fat: 2.3g

  • Carbs: 19g

  • Protein: 2.8g

Magical Low-Fat Peanut Butter Frosting Recipe

Icing and cupcakes go together like hummus and pita bread — they need each other, because… they just do!

Unless I’m purposely trying to make the people I’m feeding fat, I’m a firm believer in not buying canned icing. Admittedly, it’s good, but it’s so bad for you that I can’t justify it when finding a low-fat frosting recipe is so easy.

My husband and I are both obsessed with peanut butter, so I knew I’d score some points on the awesome wife scale if I could find a frosting recipe made from this creamy deliciousness. And voila, I found this amazing Low-Fat Peanut Butter Frosting Recipe*, from Created by Diane. So. Crazy. Good. Mmm!

When I told him I was making low-fat peanut butter frosting, I could see the love burning in my husband’s eyes. I’m not sure if it was for the peanut butter icing or for me, but we’ll just say it was the latter.

Do your best not to sit and eat an entire bowl of this peanut butter frosting, but the one tsp it takes to cover the top of a cupcake will barely register on your daily calorie intake. Here’s the nutrition stats (per tsp):

  • Calories: 27

  • Fat: 0.7g

  • Carbs: 4.5g

  • Protein: 0.8g

*I swapped regular peanut butter for it’s low-fat counterpart and cut a bit of the powdered sugar.

So, now you know how to make cupcakes and peanut butter frosting in a low-fat, no guilt manner. Now get yourself into the kitchen and whip up a batch!

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Saving Money By Shopping at a Farmers’ Market

4 Jun

Shopping at a farmers’ market is a great way to support a local business.

It always annoys me how expensive fresh produce is in the grocery store. It’s crazy how the most fattening garbage is super cheap, but buying produce will bankrupt you. Trying to stick to a grocery budget can be like an invitation to be fat. Unacceptable!

Although shopping at a farmer’s market is by no means a new concept, it finally really clicked for my boyfriend and I last weekend, when we realized how much money we saved when we visited one. Not only did we save a ton of money by shopping at a farmers’ market, we also supported a local business in the process.

While Pittsburgh isn’t the most exciting, beautiful, or glamorous place to live, we do have a few winning points. One of those happens to be shopping at the farmers’ market in our Strip District area of downtown on the weekends. While I’ve always really enjoyed this little warm weather pastime, I never really realized how much money I could save if I did it on a weekly basis. It’s so fun to get to enjoy browsing cheap produce outside on a beautiful day (yes, I’m completely serious).

So much fresh produce for so little money!

So much fresh produce for so little money!

Check out everything I got at the farmer’s market for $19.51!:

  • Two red peppers
  • Four zucchinis
  • One avocado
  • One pint of blueberries
  • One container of strawberries
  • Two grapefruits
  • One lemon
  • Two kiwis
  • Four pounds of oranges
  • One bunch of fresh parsley

Moral of the Story: Head to your local farmers’ market this week. Buy lots of cheap, fresh produce. Pat yourself on the back for saving money and supporting a local business.

A Healthy Weekend Dinner Date

14 May

Many of us don’t have much of a problem sticking to a low-fat diet during the week, but often times those healthy eating habits go out the window on the weekends. Between Friday happy hours, a dinner date on Saturday, and family cookouts on Sundays, it can be easy to negate all of the effort that we put into healthy eating during the week.

The countdown is on until my boyfriend and I take off on our next vacation, (seven weeks and one day to be exact), since I know you’re wondering. This time, we’ll be spending much of our trip in swimsuits, as we’re staying in a beachside hotel in Laguna Beach, California for half of our vaction, then heading up the coast for some more time on a beach resort in Santa Barbara, and ending our vacation in Beverly Hills. So clearly we need to look good!

When trying to decide where to go for our Friday dinner date, my boyfriend brought up the good point that we already had plans to eat out on Saturday and Sunday, so maybe we should just stay in and make dinner together. Not only is healthy eating a lot easier at home, it’s also cheaper!

So our Friday night dinner date began with a trip to the grocery store to get the ingredients for our healthy dinner. We bought fish for my boyfriend to grill, veggies, fresh stuffed mushrooms, and sweet potatoes. Yum!

Mmm grilled zucchini, one of my favorites!

Homemade sweet potato french fries, really the only kind that should be legal.

Nothing says ‘hot dinner date’ like some yummy steamed broccoli!

Wine calories don’t count.

Birthday’s Don’t Have to be a Fat Fest – Try This Healthy Angel Food Cake

16 Apr

Today is my boyfriend’s birthday — Happy Birthday Derek! Like any good girlfriend, I made him a birthday cake to celebrate. Although store-bought cakes are undeniably more attractive and taste better than anything that comes out of my kitchen, I still like to make them myself. I think it’s a nice gesture. I’m not going to lie, I also enjoy the fact that I can put all kinds of weirdo ingredients into my own concoctions, guaranteeing them to be nice and healthy(ish).

Much to my blissful surprise, Derek requested an angel food cake for his birthday, a.k.a. a fat-free cake. See, he’s trying to get in swimsuit shape for our upcoming trip to chilly San Francisco too.  Haha.

Until last year, I really, truly thought you could only get an angel food cake from a bakery. It had never registered in my tiny little brain that one could be made at home. Yes, I’m serious. So when my mom requested one for her birthday last year, and the bakery was sold out, I assumed there was no other option but to surrender and make something else. And after that episode, she promptly gave me an angel food cake pan and some cake mix to fill it with. .. Hint hint.

I don’t know if an angel food cake can be made from scratch or not, and frankly I don’t really care! I love to make easy cake recipes. Anyways, the more steps involved in making this angel food cake, the more likely I am to screw it up.

To make this angel food cake, just add water. Totally idiot proof!

Frosting is my favorite part of a cake. Actually, I’m not even that interested in the cake part, just the frosting! Although I’m a huge fan of store-bought frosting, I’m not really that into getting fat. Therefore I found an awesomelow-fat cream cheese frosting recipe from Skinnytaste.com. It is SO good! With only three ingredients, even I couldn’t mess this frosting recipe up! The only thing I did differently is to substitute fat-free cream cheese in for the 1/3 fat kind, and I only used 3/4 cup powdered sugar, but that’s because I’m a freak. Obviously you don’t need to do that.

What a beauty... if I do say so myself. And I do.

Yes, I'm aware that it kind of looks like a Christmas wreath. Oops.

I added strawberries on top of this delicious angel food cake both to make it look pretty and to give it some nutritional value.

So if you’re looking for healthy, easy cake recipes this is it. I mean if all you have to do is make an angel food cake from a box, whip up a quick low-fat icing recipe, and decorate the cake with fruit, there’s no excuse not to make it on your own!

Healthy Snack Recipes: Roasted Chickpeas

3 Apr

Lately I’ve been venturing into my kitchen to try new healthy snack recipes so much that my oven is probably ready to go on strike. I have a one track mind, and my focus is currently set on getting in shape for my upcoming vacation. Yes, the vacation that I’m referencing is the one to San Francisco, where the average temperature in April is a nice and chilly 60 degrees. Whatever, don’t burst my idiotic bubble.

Anyways, my latest discovery is roasted chickpeas. If you’re constantly looking for healthy snack ideas like I am, you’ll thank be thanking me for this one later. These things are SO good! The best part about roasted chickpeas is that there’s like hundreds of different ways to make them — sweet, spicy, crispy, dry — you name it. If you’re craving a certain flavor, you can likely find many roasted chickpeas snack recipes to satisfy your desires.

Currently, my favorite roasted chickpeas recipe is this one, from Two Peas & Their Pod. So good! The only thing I did differently was substitute spray olive oil for canola oil, and Splenda for brown sugar (because I didn’t have any).

Mmm roasted chickpeas...

I’m not interested in making snack recipes unless they’re really, really easy. Thankfully making this roasted chickpeas recipe couldn’t possibly get much easier, which moves it even farther up the list of the best healthy snack ideas ever. Oh, and it’s also super cheap, even by my standards. A can of chickpeas costs $1.00 or less, and you can usually find the rest of the ingredients in your kitchen cabinet. Does it get any better?!

So, what’s your favorite flavor of roasted chickpeas? I’m always looking for new ways to make them, so if you’ve got a great recipe, do share!

Easy Low Carb Breakfast Ideas

25 Mar

Over the past year I’ve realized that I’m a major carb monger.  I’ve always prided myself on eating healthy, but until I plugged everything I ate into the Daily Burn one day, I never particularly paid attention to the fact that I was completely over-carbing myself. Since coming upon this magic realization, I’ve traded a lot of the foods I used to eat for low-carb options. Except for breakfast.

I’m a morning robot — everyday I have plain oatmeal, mixed with low-fat peanut butter and cinnamon for breakfast. It’s amazing. So instead of looking for low-carb breakfast ideas, I simply decided to just eat less of this glorious oatmeal concoction in the morning. Less food equals less carbs, bam! Okay, this idea was brilliant until I realized that I’m starving an hour after breakfast each day, because I wasn’t eating a huge portion of oatmeal before I decided to cut back, it simply had too many carbs for my liking.

Since I refuse to get up early enough to cook a low-carb breakfast before work each day, I assumed that small amounts of oatmeal and mid-morning starvation was just how it had to be. Then I found this recipe for Clean Egg Muffins, from Blogilates. Brilliant! You can make enough of these cute little egg cupcakes on Sunday to last for the entire week. Put them in a container and carry them to work. Voila, just as easy as oatmeal, but with way less carbs!

Nothing this healthy has ever been inside a cupcake wrapper.

Mmm who knew a low-carb breakfast could be this good (or pretty)?!

Low-Carb Sides to Pair with Egg Muffins:

Eggs and toast go together like Donnie Wahlberg’s abs and baby oil, so it’s natural to pair them together, but that defeats the purpose of these low-carb egg muffins. Instead, choose one of these low-carb breakfast ideas to accompany your egg cupcakes:

  • Orange
  • Half a grapefruit
  • Berries
  • Turkey bacon
  • Cottage cheese

Healthy Eating Tips — How to Stop Eating While You’re Cooking

21 Mar

Whoever made up that old wives’ tale about a skinny chef being a bad cook is a fat idiot. In fact, skinny chefs should be applauded for having the willpower to resist shoving their delicious creations in their mouths every five seconds.

On that note, how many of you are guilty of sampling your culinary creations while you’re cooking? Of course it’s advisable to test a bite here and there to make sure nothing tastes like cat food, but if you don’t watch yourself, it’s pretty easy for this grazing to get out of hand.

I’ll admit it, when I’m cooking, I’m often guilty of inappropriate amounts of snacking. To make it clear, this is only on normal, tempting foods — I don’t like go nuts over grilled chicken breasts or anything. Not like that makes it any better…

Snacking on grilled chicken isn't really my thing.

It’s always a good idea to like your own cooking, but whether you’re making dinner for tonight, prepping make ahead meals, baking, or cooking for a party, you have to keep your appetite in check. Otherwise you’ll end up eating half the dish (read: half the calories), before you’ve even taken it out of the pan. Yowza!

Healthy Eating Tips — How to Stop Eating While You’re Cooking:

  • Don’t Cook Hungry. Everyone knows it’s a bad idea to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, so why is it any better to cook while you’re starving? If anything, it’s probably an even worse idea, because you’re actually handling the food! Even a person with willpower of steel is going to cave if put in a situation where they’re starving and touching food. This is a no brainer, if you’re hungry before you start cooking, make a snack.
  • Pour a Drink. When sampling your cooking for quality assurance purposes, it’s important to have a drink on hand to wash that delicious taste out of your mouth. The drink of choice is up to you, it can be water, coffee, adult beverages, whatever suits your fancy.
  • Chew Gum. If you’re feeling pretty sure that your recipe is going to turn out awesome, and no taste-testing will be needed, pop a piece of gum into your mouth before you start cooking. You’re less likely to go nuts shoving food in your face if you have to take a piece of gum out to do so.