Christmas Cookies!

My mom and I had our very first Christmas cookie bake-a-thon!  After nine different varieties, 550 cookies and 8 hours I would say it was a sweet success!  Hope you can find a recipe to enjoy this holiday season.  Time to spread some sweetness and love!

No Bake Peanut Butter Truffles, Peanut Butter Stars, Molasses, Peppermint, Coconut Date Balls, Pistachio-Cherry, and Almond Crescents. 

Charlee just kicked up a leg and monitored the mess

I caught Trey sneaking a cookie in the garage
The cookie recipes are below:
I start with my classics (always a hit): Aunt Pam’s Molasses Cookies and The Best Ever Peanut Butter Kisses
No Bake Peanut Butter Truffles
Serves 80 (1 truffle each).
| Source: Hy-Vee Seasons Holiday 2012.
All you need:
1/2 c. Hy-Vee butter
2 c. Hy-Vee creamy peanut butter
3 c. finely crushed Hy-Vee toasted rice cereal (about 10 cups uncrushed)*
2 c. Hy-Vee powdered sugar
1 (24 ounce) package almond bark
All you do:
In a large microwave-proof bowl, melt butter on high power for about 60 seconds in microwave. Stir in peanut butter until smooth. Mix in crushed cereal and powdered sugar. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes or until well-chilled.
Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper. Roll cereal mixture into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheets. Chill in refrigerator for 1-1/2 hours or in freezer for 30 minutes.
In a medium microwave-proof bowl, melt half the almond bark according to microwave directions on package. Keeping one baking sheet chilled, use a fork to dip balls from one baking sheet in melted almond bark to coat, shaking off any excess. Place coated balls on cooling rack set over waxed paper. Repeat with remaining almond bark and cereal balls. Let cool until coating is hardened. Carefully remove truffles with spatula. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.
*For best results, pulse cereal in batches in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.

Dipped Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
Serves 56 (1 cookie each)
| Source: Hy-Vee Seasons Holiday 2012.
All you need:
1/2 c. Hy-Vee butter, softened
1 c. Hy-Vee granulated sugar
1 Hy-Vee large egg
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 1/4 c. Hy-Vee all-purpose flour
1/2 c. Hy-Vee baking cocoa
1/4 tsp Hy-Vee baking soda
1/4 tsp Hy-Vee baking powder
1/4 tsp Hy-Vee salt
2 (11 ounce each) packages white chocolate chips
1/2 c. crushed peppermint candies (about 16)
All you do:
In a large bowl beat butter with electric mixer until creamy. Add sugar; beat until well mixed. Beat in egg and peppermint extract.
In a small bowl stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Divide dough in half. On plastic wrap, shape each half into a 7-inch long log. Roll up in plastic wrap and tuck under ends. Freeze at least 45 minutes or refrigerate at least 1-1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap and cut logs into 1/4-inch slices. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until light brown on bottom. Cool.
Melt white chocolate according to package directions, being very careful not to overheat as this will cause chocolate to be very thick. Dip cookies into melted chocolate, scraping off excess on side of bowl. Place on waxed paper. Immediately sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies. Cool until firm. Store in a covered container at room temperature or in refrigerator.

Pistachio-Cherry Jumbles
Serves 36 (1 cookie each)| Source: Hy-Vee Seasons Holiday 2012.
All you need:
1 1/2 c. Hy-Vee flour
1 (3.4 oz) box Hy-Vee pistachio pudding mix
1/2 c. Hy-Vee sugar
1 tsp Hy-Vee baking powder
1/4 tsp Hy-Vee salt
1/2 c. Hy-Vee unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 tbsp Hy-Vee vegetable oil
2 Hy-Vee large eggs
1/2 c. Hy-Vee skim milk
3/4 c. Hy-Vee roasted, salted pistachios, chopped
2/3 c. Hy-Vee dried cherries or cranberries, chopped
All you do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, stir flour, pudding mix, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in butter, oil, eggs and milk until smooth. Stir in pistachios and cherries.
Drop by rounded teaspoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden.

Merry Christmas!
Until next time…
Look good, feel good, do good
Sara B.

Mr. Grinch Smoothie

This has been my go-to snack lately. I am constantly looking for easy-to-make, high quality snacks as I’m usually juggling kids, lunch, toys, nursing, whatever. The key is to have all the ingredients on hand, close by each other and ready to go. 

Oh and the best part…Trey loves it too!
There are many variations of a “green” smoothie but here’s what I do…
Mr. Grinch Smoothie
1 scoop NNW Healthy Whey Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Powder (found in HyVee Health Market)
large handful of organic spinach
1 frozen banana
spoonful of natural peanut butter (about 1-2 T)
scoop of chia seeds or ground flaxseed
about 8-10 oz skim milk
Blend and enjoy!

Until next time…
look good, feel good, do good
Sara B.

If you have to buy something processed part 3

Last part!  Article from
Now for the “Nutrition Facts” on the Label

Cholesterol. Your body (liver) makes more cholesterol in an hour than you ever eat in a day. As you have learned, more of the cholesterol comes from eating sugar than eating fat. There is little correlation between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol, and little reason to worry about this number on food labels.

Protein. If you eat a variety of whole foods you won’t have to worry about protein because whole foods such as beans, soy foods, nuts, seeds, whole grains and lean animal foods contain plenty of protein.

Sodium. If you are sodium sensitive, use this simple guideline: Double the calories to get an accurate estimate of how much sodium should be in the serving (for example 150 calories per serving, maximum sodium per serving 300 mg). There’s an exception: very low calorie foods, such as some vegetables without added salt. Many processed foods have far more sodium than this. You will need to prepare fresh foods at home to recondition your palate to whole foods naturally low in sodium. The recommended daily intake for the average person is 1500 mg, or less than the amount in 1 teaspoon of salt (2400 mg). That includes salt added at the table, in cooking at the factory or in a fast food kitchen (which is where most of our salt intake comes from – hidden in the processed and fast foods we consume such as packaged meats, canned soup, and even cottage cheese!) We should consume about 10 times the amount of potassium (in foods such as bananas, potatoes, spinach, and almonds) as sodium in our diet (mostly from plant foods), and we do just the inverse – eat 10 times as much salt or sodium as potassium.

Calcium. Add a zero to the calcium % on the label and this equals milligrams calcium per serving because the % Daily Value for calcium is based on 1000 mg. For example: 2% = 20 mg. calcium or 30% = 300 mg. Remember that calcium is the only nutrient to which this rule pertains.

Other nutrients: B-12, iron, zinc and other nutrients may have been added to the food product to enhance nutrient levels and will be listed on the label if the product was “fortified.”

Until next time…
Look good, feel good, do good
Sara B.

Paleo Porridge

While I don’t consider myself “Paleo” many of the concepts of the diet are naturally part of my families eating lifestyle.  When I came across this recipe for a warm oatmeal like breakfast I was intrigue and gave it a try.  It got three thumbs up from J, Trey, and myself!
I like to make a big batch so it’s ready for a high protein breakfast or pick-me-up snack in a jiffy. 

Paleo Porridge
Recipe from

1.    Process coconut, walnuts, almonds, pepitas and flaxseed together in a blender or food processor until finely ground and blade starts to seize.
2.    Boil water in a kettle or in the microwave.  Pour into a microwave-safe container and mix in honey if using. 
3.    Stir ground nuts into hot water.  Add protein or other fixins.
4.    Heat in microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Stir once more.  Let sit for 3-5 minutes to thicken.  Enjoy!

Variations:  Just like traditional porridge, you can stir in some extra ingredients at the end to change the flavor.  Here are some ideas, but feel free to experiment!


If you really have to buy something processed part 2

Have you checked out yet!?  1 Corinthians 6:12-13

“What you think you own is really on loan and that includes your body…..God is the owner and you’re just the manager. God expects you to take care of your body.”  -Pastor Rick Warren 

Understand the Nutrition Label: Think Low GL (glycemic load) and High PI (phytonutrient index)

Glycemic Load or GL is a measure of how quickly a food enters your blood stream and low GL means better health

Phytonutrient index or PI means the amount of colorful plant pigments and compounds in food that help prevent disease and promote health

Look at the serving size and determine if this is your “typical” portion as labels can be deceiving. For example, a cereal may state 3/4 cup serving when your typical portion is 1 1/2 cups. Or worse, it may say 2 servings, when typically people consume the whole amount in the container or bottle. Have you ever known 4 people to share one pint of Hagen Daaz ice cream?

Are the calories high GL or low GL? Remember, the total amount of carbohydrates is less important than where they come from. If they are found in foods with a low GL and high PI they will have a very different affect on your appetite and weight than foods that are quickly absorbed and have few nutrients and fiber.

Start with fiber. It is one of the main factors that determine the all-important glycemic load; fiber can give you a clue about the PI. Many packaged foods have no fiber. If convenience items such as soups, entrees, or snacks are missing this key fiber factor, leave them on the shelf.

Total carbohydrates. Remember that it’s the type of carbohydrates that matters most. If they are from whole, plant foods containing plenty of fiber or have a low GL, their effect is very different from fiberless foods. The same amount of carbohydrates from a can of beans or from a can of Coke affects the body in very different ways.

Where are the good fats? Monounsaturated and omega 3 polyunsaturated fats should dominate this category, with minimal amounts of saturated fat and zero trans fats (present on foods labels from 2006 on). Beware that small amounts of trans fat are STILL permitted in the food as long as it is less then 0.5 grams per serving. But if you eat that food frequently or more than one serving (which is usually the case), you may get a load of trans fats. Therefore look carefully at the label even if it says “zero trans fats” and look for the word hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. If you see those words put it back on the shelf. Unfortunately the omega 3 fats are rarely listed on the label. They are part of the polyunsaturated fat family. But they come from the good side of the family. Other processed and refined oils that are less than healthful also show up in this section of the label including corn oil and safflower oil.

 Until next time…
Look good, feel good, do good
Sara B.

Loaded Baked Potato Pizza

A new twist on an old favorite. 

Baked Potato Pizza
recipe adapted from Clean Eating Magazine
1 Yukon gold potato
6 slices turkey bacon like Applegate Farms
1 whole wheat pizza dough (try Whole Foods dough or Trader Joes)
3 T whole wheat flour
1/4 C plain Greek yogurt
1 C cooked broccoli florets
1-15 oz can chili, try Amy’s Organic Medium Chili with Veggies
3 green onions, chopped
1 C 2% shredded cheese 
Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a small pot place potato and cover with water by 1 inch.  Boil until soft.  Drain and smash with fork, add yogurt ans salt.  Prepare pizza dough on flour dusted counter. Oil pizza pan and dust with flour. Bake for 8 min.  Remove from oven and top with chili, dollops of potato, bacon, broccoli and cheese.  Bake in oven for 12 minutes or heated through and bacon is cooked. Enjoy!

Until next time…
look good, feel good, do good
Sara B.