Gluten Free: Grain-Free Granola

One of my food weaknesses is definitely granola so I thought I would develop a recipe for a Grain-Free Granola for all of those who can’t have grains, are gluten-free, are following the Paleo Diet or are watching their carbohydrate intake. This recipe for Grain-Free Granola is super easy to make, and it’s full of my favorite seeds and nuts. Feel free to use whatever you have on hand as all of the nuts and seeds are easily interchangeable. This granola makes a great breakfast idea stirred into nonfat Greek Yogurt or with almond milk. It also makes a great afternoon snack, a healthy sweet to put in your children’s lunch, or a wonderful dinnertime dessert served with fruit.

Valentine’s Day Trail Mix

Valentines is almost here, and I thought I would share my latest healthy idea of what you can snack on at home, in the office or at your kids’ class parties. This Valentine Trail Mix is filled with healthy nuts, yogurt covered pretzels and raisins. Feel free to add your favorite nuts and dried fruits. Top it off with a small amount of regular or peanut M & M’s, and you’ll have a winning Valentine’s Day treat that is fairly healthy too.

4 Healthy Super Bowl Recipes: Rosemary Infused Nuts

Super Bowl XLVI is coming up this weekend with the New York Giants and the New England Patriots, and most of us are having or going to Super Bowl parties. I have had so many email requests for easy, healthy ideas for game, so I wanted to share one of our favorite lightened-up football snack recipes. Rosemary Infused Nuts are a tremendous hit! This simple, 20 minute recipe is filled with cashews, almonds and pumpkin seeds. Nuts are a great source of healthy fat, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and protein. By consuming this type of fat, you’ll feel less hungry, and your sugar cravings will diminish. They are filled with the following power food nuts:

Pumpkin Seeds: I love using pumpkin seeds in this nut mix because they are high in zinc and have been linked to so many benefits including great looking skin and boosting your immunity.

Almonds: Almonds are a power nut high in Vitamin E and potassium and one of the most nutritious nuts.

Cashews: Cashews are also a rich source of iron and zinc, and they have been linked to hair, skin and bone health.

Other Lightened Up Super Bowl Snack Ideas

Chicken Chipotle Dip   

Spinach Dip with Greek Yogurt

Panko Roasted Drumsticks

Quinoa Salad with Almonds, Cranberries and Mint

Quinoa is one of my favorite Super Foods of 2012. I talked a great deal about quinoa this weekend at my nutrition/healthy eating seminar including how to pronounce it, purchase it and cook it. I had a lot of wonderful questions regarding this gluten-free grain. One serving of quinoa provides all 8 essential amino acids, and it is high in protein and fiber. It’s also a wonderful grain for those on a gluten-free diet, and it works wonderful for breakfast, a side, in soups and salads. I recommend buying the rinsed version to make your life even easier. I developed this recipe for Quinoa Salad with Almonds, Cranberries and Mint for Thanksgiving for Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms Turkey. It makes a great side dish or salad, and my kids absolutely loved it. Add grilled chicken or shrimp if you wish for a main dish salad.

Heart-Smart Snack: No-Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars

For those who know me well, you know that eating healthy and staying active is extremely important to me. I have been a runner since I was 16 and in love with anything related to health and nutrition since college. Over the past 20 years, my dad has had three heart attacks and open-heart surgeries, which has made me even more conscious of keeping my family fit and heart-healthy.

As you know, I’ve been working with CanolaInfo on its World Heart Day campaign and have learned a lot! For example, cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart disease, stroke and diseases of the blood vessels, is the number one cause of death worldwide, accounting for more than 17 million lost lives every year. In the U.S. alone, more than 81 million people (37 percent of the population) have CVD, resulting in nearly 850,000 deaths a year. Research has also shown that obese children are at a high risk for being obese as adults, which is a risk factor for CVD. There is good news though – with healthy diet and exercise, CVD can be prevented up to 80 percent of the time!

I’ve tried to teach my three children (10, 12 and 14) the importance of a healthy lifestyle through examples I’ve set and it seems to be working! As a family, we like to ride bikes, take walks, play tennis – anything active that we can do together. I also urge them to join team sports every season and we discuss the importance of making healthy food choices. I include them in meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking. I am always proud, impressed and grateful when I see them making wise decisions with healthy snacks and other foods. But kids are also, well kids, so I try to make heart-healthy foods fun like these No Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars I developed for CanolaInfo’s “Home is Where the Heart is” Recipe Collection.

These easy and tasty granola bars are perfect for breakfast, a lunchbox dessert or afternoon snack. For more great kid-friendly recipes and information on living a heart-smart lifestyle, visit Canolainfo.org.

Coffee Cake with a Twist: Apricot and Almond Coffee Cake

Coffeecakes have always been one of my favorite baked items. Serving and eating a piece with a cup of coffee or tea always make me feel warm and comforted. A friend recently shared a version of this recipe for Almond-Apricot Coffee Cake with me from the “Cooking with Paula Dean” magazine. I lightened it up a bit substituting egg white for some of the eggs, used reduced-fat cream cheese instead of regular and nonfat Greek yogurt for the sour cream. Apricots and almonds are two special ingredients to twist this recipe a bit, and they make this coffee cake even better. This is a great breakfast treat to serve to the kids, special snack, brunch recipe, bridal or baby shower recipe and, of course, dessert recipe.

Holiday Food Gift Idea: Simple Breakfast Granola

As the holidays are approaching, I have been trying to make recipes that my kids will love and hopefully ones that will be potential great homemade food gifts. I saw a variation of this recipe in a recent Paula Dean Magazine, and tweaked it using some of my favorite ingredients such as walnuts and flaxseed. It came out great, and it lasted at least up to 3 weeks in a tightly covered container. My kids ate it for breakfast and a snack, and I piled it on top of Greek Yogurt for a filling breakfast. For the dried fruit, I used Sun-Maid Fruit Bits. Start your holiday food gifts early, and try this Granola recipe.

Halloween Caramel Popcorn

Since my kids love popcorn, I decided to make a homemade version of Carmel Popcorn just in time for Halloween. The combination of butter, honey and light brown sugar coat the popcorn to perfection. I added some of my favorite nuts and M & M’s, and wow were my kids so excited. This makes a great Halloween snack and gift just in time for a sweet, fun holiday.

Special Snack Treat: Chunky Nut and Dried Fruit Granola

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One of my favorite things to snack on is granola. In town, Big Sky Granola is one of my favorites because it’s chunky like this Chunky Nut and Dried Fruit Granola recipe. I made this for a special treat for my friend who just had surgery, and she took one bite and said, “This granola rocks!” It is as good as it looks and full of wonderful ingredients.

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Four Ingredient Super Bowl Appetizer: Honey-Dijon Brie with Almonds

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I love to make Brie for an appetizer because it’s so simple, and people love it. This recipe is almost a joke-just too easy for words, only 4 ingredients. If you’re having guests over for a weeknight or weekend gathering, Super Bowl party or entertaining friends, this recipe is as simple as it is delicious. Go Saints!