Peppermint Dark Hot Chocolate Mix

Okay…my kids are obsessed with Peppermint Hot Chocolate. The past few weeks we have been visiting Starbucks more than often to savor their craving. Since I have been working on my Christmas list, I decided to create my own homemade version of Peppermint Dark Hot Chocolate Mix that will make the perfect holiday food gift. I used dark chocolate instead of milk or semisweet chocolate, but feel free to use your favorite. It has been said to lower blood pressure, work as a powerful antioxidant and even help release endorphins to boost your mood. It’s super easy and inexpensive to make, and everyone loves it.

Date-Pecan Bread with Greek Yogurt

This Date-Pecan Bread with Greek yogurt is my newest favorite healthy, quick bread recipe. I used whole wheat and all-purpose flour, flaxseed and nonfat Greek yogurt to create a flavorful, moist bread. My kids were skeptical at first, but shortly after they tried it, they were gladly helping themselves to seconds. Perfect for breakfast, dessert, an afternoon snack or holiday gift, this recipe is a cinch to prepare (no mixer needed). I bought my dates at Costco, but you can find them at any local grocery store. Dates are filled with so may health benefits. They’re full of fiber, Vitamin B, Vitamin, A, Vitamin C, Iron and potassium. They are an excellence source of energy and work wonders for the digestive system.

Beetroot, Goat Cheese Hazelnut Tart

Beets are so incredibly healthy, and one of my favorite root vegetables. Just 3 baby beets equals one serving of your 5 vegetables and fruits you should have a day. They are also so versatile in cooking, and I love them in this Beetroot Goat Cheese and Hazelnut Tart. This recipe is very simple to prepare, and it makes a show-stopping appetizer or side dish. It’s perfect for holiday season entertaining. Check out LoveBeets which are ready-to-eat, cooked beets. You can find them in your local grocery such as Whole Foods Market. They make life so much easier, and they taste so fresh.

Here are just a few of their powerful health benefits.

1. Beets are one of the richest sources of folic acid essential for normal tissue growth.

2. Research has showed that beets can help lower blood pressure and blood sugar.

3. Beets have been said to lessen chances of skin and lung cancer.

4. The high iron content in beets helps fight fatigue and anemia.

5. Beets contain high amounts of Boron which is related to production of human sex hormones, thus increasing sex drive. 

In Search of the Perfect Pumpkin Pie Recipe

This weekend I have been in search of a great Pumpkin Pie recipe to make for Thanksgiving. You see, I’m getting off easy this year (yea!). I’ve hosted Thanksgiving at my house the past several years, but my sister and I swapped holidays this year (her request). I still have to make several things to bring to our family event of over 20 people. Since she assigned me the Pumpkin Pie, I have been searching for something new and different. The recipe (above) is a Pecan Streusel Topping from my friend Marge at A Sweet and Savory Sweet Life. It looks so fabulous, and it was one of the first ones I came across. Here are some others, including a “lightened up recipe from Cooking Light as well as vegan version. Enjoy!

Cheesecake Pumpkin Pecan Pie by Parsley Sage, Desserts and Line Drives

Pumpkin Pie Pops from Munchkin Munchies

 Pumpkin Pie Bites from Bakerella

 Vegan Pumpkin Pie from Vegetarian Times

Spiced Pumpkin Chiffon Pie from Cooking Light

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Thanksgiving & Christmas Breakfast Recipes: My Favorite Coffee Cakes

One of my favorite things for breakfast is a truly awesome coffee cake. I crave it this time of the year, especially as the weather cools. My recipe for Apricot Almond Coffee Cake (above) was on my blog last year, and it’s so delicate and flavorful (I love the added touch of using Greek Yogurt). I have been eyeing some other recipes to try this season to serve on Thanksgiving and Christmas morning. I hope you’ll enjoy some of these recipes from some of my favorite sites that I look forward to reading on a daily basis.

Pumpkin Coffee Cake from How Sweet It is

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake from Two Peas & Their Pod

 Corner Bakery Cinnamon Creme Coffee Cake from Barbara Bakes

Blueberry Lemon Coffee Cake from Cooking Light

Cinna-Bun Coffee Cake in a Jar from Picky Palate

 

Breakfast Almond and Raspberry Quinoa

I’m a huge fan of quinoa, and one of my favorite ways to enjoy it, is for breakfast. Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is one of the “it” or “super” grains right now, and it’s one of the best plant sources of protein with more high quality protein than any other grain. It’s loaded with protein, fiber and, best of all, is gluten-free. It is light, tasty and easy to digest, with a slightly nutty flavor. This recipe for Breakfast Almond and Raspberry Quinoa is fabulous. I had all 3 of my kids try it too, and they loved it. I love the combination of using almond milk, almonds and raspberries, but feel free to use any of your favorite fruits and toppings. Enjoy!

Healthy Mini Pumpkin Flaxseed Bread Recipe

I love one bowl, no mixer, quick bread recipes such as this one for Mini Flaxseed Pumpkin Bread Loaves. Not only is this so easy to prepare, but my kids can almost basically make them on their own with very little clean-up. I added a touch of nonfat Greek yogurt and ground Flaxseed to make these even healthier, moister and with added crunch, and my 3 children had no idea those ingredients were even in there. These Mini Pumpkin loaves make a great breakfast, afternoon snack or dessert that you can feel good about eating and serving to your kids. These also make wonderful Christmas food gifts as well :).

Fennel-Apple Slaw


I am a huge fennel fan so this recipe for Fennel-Apple Slaw is one of my new fall favorites. Fennel, which looks like a cross between an onion and a bunch of celery, has a slightly sweet anise (licorice) flavor. It has the perfect crunch to pair with shredded cabbage, and it makes a great addition to any salad or slaw recipe. I love it in this vegetarian combination with Greek yogurt, walnuts, dried cranberries and fresh dill. Fennel is also good for you, containing Vitamins A and C, fiber, folate, potassium and calcium.

Chocolate-Coconut and Toffee Bars

Need a great dessert or sweet snack to feed a crowd? A friend of mine passed me a version of a recipe which I tweaked to create these Chocolate-Coconut Toffee Bars. These remind me of  a cross between S’mores and Hello Dolly bars, but these are a little less fattening.  I used low-fat graham crackers as the base with a toffee layer topped with coconut, pecans and dark chocolate. They are so easy to make, and the kids loved them (especially for a study break snack).

Grouper with Fresh Mint and Red Peppers

A few weeks ago, I shared this recipe for Grouper with Fresh Mint and Red Peppers on the blog In Good Taste, by the talented blogger, Maris Callahan. I wrote a guest post for her with a “Healthy Date Night” menu. I made the recipe the other day, and I wanted to share it with you too. For the fish, I used grouper, but feel free to substitute any of your favorite mild, white fish. This recipe is so easy, flavorful, low-fat and healthy. It can be prepared in under 30 minutes and makes a great date night, sunday night or any weeknight main dish.

Here are a few of my Healthy Date Night Tips:

-Shop the perimeter of the store, which means stay to the outside edges. This is where you will find the freshest, healthiest food items.

-Use fresh herbs and spices. When cooking with herbs and spices, fresh are always best. If you’re using dried seasonings, make sure they are the freshest possible. I only use freshly ground pepper.

-Use the freshest ingredients possible. Avoid canned, processed or preserved ingredients.

-Grill, steam, braise, stir-fry or roast foods instead of frying.

-Add more vegetables and legumes (peas, beans and lentils) to your menu.

-When a recipe calls for cream, substitute with Greek yogurt, low-fat yogurt, skim milk or soy milk.

-Don’t automatically salt your food. Taste it first.

-Select lean cuts of beef and pork. If preparing chicken, select skinless.

-Use reduced-sodium soy sauce and tomatoes.

-Use nonstick spray or olive or canola oil instead of butter or margarine.

-If you’re serving cheese as an appetizer or in recipes, select lower-fat options.

-If you’re serving warmed bread, choose whole grain.

-Serve wine but drink in moderation.

-Make the meal a special occasion. Set the table and create a relaxing ambiance to enjoy your food.

-Eat slowly and savor every bite.

-Laugh, talk and have fun. The more you talk, the slower you will eat and enjoy the meal.