Guilt Free Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Anything that can fill that place in my heart where my love for comfort food lives, is an A+ in my book! Every year as the holiday season creeps in, my sweet tooth takes over and fall for those delicious treats that are floating around everywhere you look!

While I do think everything is good in moderation, I try to make healthy swaps as much as possible so I can maintain my well balanced nutrition AND have my cake and eat it too. 

I made some tweaks to a banana bread recipe that I found to perfect it even more...and I'm in LOVE! Best part is, it's made of mostly whole foods and is WAY low on carbs. So...can ya even call it bread then? 

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup carob chips
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, natural nut butter

Recipe:

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Prep 1-2 muffin tins by coating with non-stick spray.
  2. Toss the bananas, puree, eggs, nut butter 7 melted coconut oil into a blender and pulse until smooth.
  3. Add in all remaining ingredients BUT the carob chips! Blend.
  4. Fold in carob chips & save a bit to sprinkle on top of each muffin after you dish it into the tin.
  5. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling about 3/4 of the way. I only used one muffin tin and poured the rest of the mixture into a small ramekin (and cooked that for an additional 5 minutes since it was larger.)
  6. Pop in the oven for 13-17 minutes (15 was perfect for my oven.) Insert a toothpick to see if its done - the toothpick should come out clean and not wet.

Store these in the fridge and reheat for a few seconds in the microwave for extra chocolately gooey loveliness! 

Enjoy!
 

Spiced Butternut Squash with Tart Cherries & Pecans

Fall has officially arrived in Seattle and nothing makes it feel more real than pumpkin and squash everything! I had picked up a couple of bags of pre-cubed butternut squash the other day and was trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to do with it. I took a peek in my cupboard to see what I could throw in there and found some dried cherries, honey & pecans...couldn't have been more perfect!

This recipe is so easy to whip up, and you don't really need to measure anything...cook intuitively by taste!


Ingredients:

  • 1-2 packs of cubed butternut squash (or cut up your own if you can't find these at your local grocer!)
  • Honey (1-2 tablespoons worth)
  • Cinnamon 
  • Pumpkin Spice
  • Pecans or other nut alternative
  • Dried tart cherries
  • Olive oil
  • Himalayan salt

What I wish I would have also had.... goat cheese! :) 

Recipe:

  1. Dump your cubed squash into a pan on medium high heat and fill with water until it just covers the bottom of the pan.
  2. Pop on a lid and stir occasionally, cooking for about 5 minutes or until the water is gone. Make sure you don't burn your pan!! 
  3. Once the water is cooked off, add in a bit of olive oil and continue cooking until the squash is soft and can be pierced with a fork!
  4. Turn down to medium low heat and add in a few dashes of cinnamon, a couple of pumpkin spice, walnuts, salt & honey. Incorporate well! Take off the heat and toss in cherries and if you're lucky, some goat cheese too! :) 

    Enjoy!

Healthy Zucchini Fritters

I'm back after a long summer blogging hiatus and FRITTERS are what's on the menu this week! I made a batch with some leftover zucchini that desperately needed to be used and my husband and I finished it off before we could even blink. 

Now, if only we could figure out how to grow some in our garden [of death] we could have fritters all the time!

Here's what you'll need...

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups shredded zucchini (I found each large zucchini is about 1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (depending on how much spice you like - I used two and it had some heat to it)
  • 1 teaspoon pink himalayan salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • EVOO
  • Cheese cloth bag
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast (optional)

Recipe:

  1. Shred the zucchini using a grater or a food processor if you have the shredding attachment.
  2. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Mix well & let it sit for about 15 minutes. This will help pull some of the water from the zucchini - skipping this step will make your fritters soggy and nobody likes a soggy fritter!!
  3. Place the zucchini in a cheese cloth bag and squeeeeeeeze out the water as much as you can! I promise this is the most annoying step!
  4. Toss back into a bowl and mix in with all of the other ingredients. **One thing to note, depending on how well you did with extracting the moisture from the zucchini, you might need to adjust the flour and bread crumbs. If the mixture is too wet, sprinkle in a bit more.
  5. Heat up your oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Use a 1/2 measuring cup to scoop the mixture, pack it down in the cup & dump it out on the pan (don't burn your fingers!) Flatten it out like a patty with the bottom of the cup and a spatula. 
  6. Cook on each side for about 5 minutes until crispy golden brown.

Serve with your favorite sauce (vegan alfredo is one of my faves!) and enjoy!

21 Day Fix Approved Pasta Salad

Once that summer heat hits, I always find myself craving fresh, bright & crisp foods! Here in Seattle, we get stuck in that drizzly, cold gloom for most of the year and when we get a chance to see that sunshine everything changes.

Pool parties, camping, BBQs, lake days... some of my favorite things about summer and with all the celebrations that are happening, I try my best to stay on track with my nutrition so I don't go into fall feeling like a marshmallow!

But...let's be honest, sometimes nothing can top an ice cold beer on a hot day. #realtalk

I had a hankering for a cold pasta salad (my mama makes a MEAN pasta salad!) but I didn't want to overdue it and end up in a calorie laden carb-loaded coma after. One of my favorite tricks to beef up any cold salad or casserole recipe is to LOAD up on the veggies. You'll still feel really satisfied, full and beat that craving, all while sneaking in some extra greens.

Here's the recipe I whipped up that encompasses some of my favorite flavors!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package pasta - cooked & rinsed in cold water (I used Gluten Free veggie pasta in spirals) Don't over cook the pasta, you want it a bit firm so it doesn't fall apart 
  • 1 bunch asparagus - lightly steamed, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 of a red onion - thinly sliced (like this!)
  • 1 bell pepper - chopped in chunks (I prefer yellow or orange because they're sweeter)
  • 1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes jarred in olive oil -OR- jarred red pepper
  • 1 container mozzarella balls - halved
  • 1 package cherry tomatoes - halved
  • 1 large package frozen, deveined shrimp (thaw in a bowl of hot water, peel off skin + tail and sauté with a little coconut oil in a skillet until cooked - just a couple of minutes! They'll turn light pink when done.)

For the dressing (whisk together):

  • pinch of salt & pepper to taste (I use pink himalayan salt)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Guess what?? Recipes for pasta salads are really easy and they're pretty much fool proof! You can easily swap out these ingredients for something else depending on what you have on hand. Toss all of the ingredients in a bowl with the dressing, chill & enjoy!

Approximate 21 Day Fix container equivalents (1.5 cup serving):

  • 1/2 yellow
  • 1/2 green
  • 1 tsp
  • 1/2 red
  • 1 blue

 

 

21 Day Fix Sangria

You might need to sit down for this one... Yes, oh yes, 21 Day Fix APPROVED Sangria wandered into my life this last weekend and I hope it never leaves {says the wino in me}. 

It was pushing 90 degrees in Seattle over the weekend and for us, that is over the top heat and we basically melt in front of your eyes! I needed a preventative measure to make sure that didn't happen and what better way to cool off than a nice tall glass of fruity, zingy & refreshing sangria? There's no better way. I'm convinced.

Here's what's great about this (as is the case with many of my recipes because I tend to be a "free form" cooker)... you can totally tweak this to make it suited for your taste. Feel free to throw in some different fruits - oranges or watermelon are a great option - and create a masterpiece of your own. You can't really mess up wine, right?

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of red wine (try and shoot for something with fruity and citrus notes, Spanish table wine is traditional)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 peach
  • 5 large strawberries
  • Large bottle of soda water (each serving will be 50% bubbles, 50% wine) Flavored is OK as long as it's zero calories. La Croix is a great option!
  • 7 mint leaves (optional) 
  • 1 teaspoon cloves

-Sorry, no brandy in this recipe because it's 21 day fix approved ;) BUT if you'd like to add a splash, technically that's included in a sangria, as well as lemon lime soda instead of soda water. Other ideas - add a splash of orange juice or pomegranate juice! 

Recipe:

Dump the bottle of wine into a large pitcher. Cut up the fruit in small wedges and add to the pitcher, along with the cloves & mint leaves (if you'd like).

Cover and pop in the fridge to sit overnight. SORRY but be patient and let it sit! I did have a glass after letting it sit for an hour and a glass the next day and it's way better after letting it sit overnight. Trust me. Patience IS indeed a virtue [of delicious wine].

>>21 Day Fix allows 4 ounces of red wine in place of a yellow container ONCE A WEEK. I will preface this by saying if you are following the plan right now, don't ruin it with a pitcher of sangria ;) Have some portion control worries? You can buy those cute little single serving bottles at the store as well and make ONE serving of sangria. BOOM. Problem solved.

To Serve: Pour 4 ounces of the chilled sangria into a glass (feel free to add an ice cube or two if needed.) Pull out a few pieces of fruit (counts as a purple container!) and drop into the glass - top off with about 4 ounces of soda water and enjoy! 

Want to work with me?

I LOVE to help people get fit from home and learn how to have the perfect balanced nutrition for their lifestyle...that includes WINE! I run monthly online accountability groups with short & effective workouts you can do from home, on your time, and nutrition plans that are easy to follow.

Interested in learning more about how you can snag a spot in my exclusive groups? Fill out the form below and I'll reach out to you!

xo,

Vanessa

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