Deliciously thick and creamy, this Banana Hot Chocolate is the perfect healthy treat! It’s also dairy free and contains no added sugars.
Whoever invented hot chocolate deserves a gold medal. Liquid chocolate served in a mug topped with fluffy marshmallows – genius!
Here is my own personal issue with hot chocolate – it’s so sweet and the dairy tends to hurt my stomach. I’ve tried making it with dairy free milk options (almond, coconut and soy milk) but then the creaminess was missing.
After many trial and errors, this Banana Hot Chocolate recipe was born!
I used very ripe bananas because they tend to be sweeter and let’s face it – extra ways to use up a brown banana is helpful at my house.
I pureed the bananas with vanilla almond milk (unsweetened) to create a frothy, creamy milk mixture which then went into a small sauce pan on the stove.
Once the milk and banana mixture was scalding hot, I added unsweetened cocoa powder and whisked until it was well combined. I decided to use unsweetened cocoa powder because it gives a strong chocolate flavor without adding extra sweetness.
If you like your hot chocolate on the sweeter side, you could definitely add some milk chocolate to the sauce pot. The world is your oyster.
After whisking the cocoa powder into the milk and banana mixture, I poured it into a mug and the result was a deliciously thick, not overly sweet hot chocoalte with a hint of banana flavor. It’s amazing. I prefer my hot chocolate to be pretty thick in texture, you can always add more milk to thin it out.
Then to get all fancy, I threw a few marshmallows on top and toasted them with a mini torch. Because hot chocolate just isn’t hot chocolate without marshmallows.
Sharing a few of my favorite asparagus recipe ideas for spring, along with nutrition knowledge for this seasonal veggie.
(Full disclosure – I originally posted this recipe in April 2017 but updated the photos and had to re-share because it’s still one of my favorite recipes)
I can always tell when Spring is approaching (hard to tell sometimes in California) because the stores start selling daffodils (one of my favorite flowers) and asparagus is back in season!
The theme for The Recipe Redux this month was to share a favorite spring time recipe. In our house, you can always find roasted asparagus on the menu each week.
I haven’t always been a huge fan of asparagus. As a kid I think it was one of those vegetables I detested. Possibly because it was usually just steamed until it was a limp, greenish side dish. Now I can honestly say that it’s probably one of the my favorite vegetables. Not only do I like that you can sometimes just pick it up and eat it with your hands, it’s also pretty simple to prepare.
Asparagus – Nutrition Knowledge
Good source of Vitamin A, C, E, K and folate
Contains dietary fiber, which helps keep you full longer, aids in good digestive health and helps transport bad cholesterol out of the bloodstream and body
Contains gluthathione, a compound believed to help break down harmful carcinogens and free radicals, making it a cancer fighting vegetable
Packed with antioxidants which help fight harmful free radicals and may help slow the aging process
Natural brain booster – asparagus contains folate, which works with Vitamin B12 to help prevent decline in cognitive ability
Asparagus is a natural diuretic, which not only helps the body release excess fluid from the body, but also can help rid excess salt. Making it helpful in reducing high blood pressure in some individuals
Roasted Asparagus with Lemon
One of my all time favorite ways to make asparagus, so simple but so delicious.
Last year, I saw a Proscuitto & Shaved Asparagus Salad recipe on Paleo Paparazzi’s instagram account and had to recreate it for myself. Since then, it has become a go-to snack or light lunch dish. So easy to make and light and fresh tasting.
Simply take thinly sliced prosciutto, top with shaved asparagus, drizzle with olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Add a few sliced tomatoes or even avocado and enjoy!
I’ve never been a person that loves physical activity.
As a kid, we weren’t a “sports” family. We didn’t dance, play soccer or anything else that required money and free time. My sisters and I were active in other ways: we rode our bikes everywhere, went swimming in the summer, played tag, invented games in our court, etc. In the summer we played outside from the time we woke up until dinner was ready.
In high school I joined the swim team but that was really my first and only venture in a physical sport. I’ve always been naturally slender and viewed my weight as an indicator of my health status for the longest time.
Once I hit my late twenties, I began to notice that gone were the days of eating whatever I wanted without working out. My clothes were tighter, I got winded walking up a flight of stairs and could not do a pushup to save my life.
I would get all gung-ho about exercise and start a program, then quit after about 2 weeks in. I tried yoga, running, online fitness challenges, kick boxing, etc. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t find anything that I didn’t give up after a few weeks.
Photo via canva.com
It wasn’t until after having my kids that I started to look at fitness in a new light. Instead of focusing on staying thin, I have begun to look at it as a way to improve my health and well-being.
I recently sat down and had an honest look at my current fitness goals, obstacles that keep me from those goals, and ideas of ways to make fitness fun and enjoyable. Full disclosure – I will turn anything into an opportunity to make a list!
Step 1 – My Health & Fitness Goals: then vs now
I made a list of my previous goals/focus to compare with my current health goals. It’s comforting to me to see the shift in purely physical appearance to a more well-being focus.
Step 2 – Potential Obstacles
I am the queen of excuses, so I thought I’d get out of my own way by trying to think about what’s keeping me from meeting my goals and how to get around those obstacles.
Step 3 – Making Fitness Fun
After finding out what is important to me, I wanted to think about ways to work fitness into my everyday life in a way that I enjoy.
I can’t wait to try some new things and edit the list as I go! Finding ways to exercise that make me feel stronger, confident in my own skin, allow me to spend time with my family and that is FUN!
Do you have any great tips or goals that have changed how you view fitness?
A simple and vibrant salad that is full of fresh flavors, this Quinoa and Fresh Herb Salad is the perfect light bite for a vegetarian friendly lunch.
Sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than a simple salad that is easy to put together and made with fresh ingredients.
This Quinoa and Fresh Herb Salad is light, full of fresh and vibrant flavors, and just so simple. It’s one of those dishes where you just feel healthier after eating it. Plus it’s a tasty way to get your daily greens in without feeling like you are chomping on a big bowl of lettuce.
Let the Flavors Mingle
Since the ingredients are so simple, the trick is to really let this salad sit in the fridge after adding the dressing to marinade for a bit and let all that fresh lime and spices work their magic.
I used kale leaves because they are hearty enough to stand up the lime dressing without getting soggy. There are not many things in life that I can’t stand more than soggy lettuce…yuck.
To add even more flavor, try cooking your quinoa using vegetable stock instead of water. A simple trick that can make a big difference.
This Coconut Blueberry Smoothie recipe is the perfect blend of frozen blueberries, coconut and macadamia nut milk for a delicious, quick, protein packed breakfast smoothie.
Disclaimer – I received free samples of the Milkadamia milk mentioned in this post however, I was not compensated for my time and all opinions expressed are solely my own.
There are two mornings a week when we have what I call our “early” days. These are the days that my son has preschool. I try to set my alarm early to be dressed with breakfast ready before the kids get up, but that NEVER happens.
It’s more like – hit snooze multiple times, jump out of bed when I realize how late it is, scramble to get dressed, get both kids dressed, force breakfast down their throats, toss together some packed lunches and sprint out the door to make it to school on time.
These my smoothie mornings because I certainly don’t have the time to cook scrambled eggs or make oatmeal. These two days a week, my blender is my lifeline.
A new favorite of mine is this Coconut Blueberry Smoothie. Just 4 ingredients and less than 1 minute stand between you and this deliciously creamy filling breakfast.
I used to make it with coconut water, but I recently received samples of macadamia nut milk from a company called milkadamia and fell in love! It’s a plant based milk alternative company, so it’s great for people who can’t have dairy , are gluten free or follow a vegan lifestyle. It’s also made from raw macadamia nuts, making it a good source of protein, healthy fats and omega-3’s and 6’s. Their product is so creamy and has such a great flavor that I like it even more than milk. The Latte Da flavor is hands down my favorite. So rich and makes coffee taste amazing.
I use 1 cup of Latte Da flavored macadamia milk in this smoothie, along with a cup of frozen blueberries, vanilla protein powder and 2 chunks of frozen coconut (I find it in the freezer section of trader joe’s). It gives me enough protein and healthy fats to keep me full well until lunch time.
It also makes a great post-workout recovery smoothie!
Dinner time in my house is either hit or miss. There really is no in between.
And by “hit”, I mean the kids eat without (much) complaint, the mood is pleasant, the spilt milk count is 1 cup or less, and no one pushes their plate away in total disgust.
By “miss”, I mean the exact opposite. Complaints start rolling in before the kids even see what we are having, sometimes there are tears shed at the table, and the tablet looks like a war zone when we finish.
Cooking dinner for other people is stressful, especially kids. It’s hard impossible to please everyone let alone find a semi-healthy meal that isn’t too complicated or expensive to prepare.
The following are meals that we personally eat on a regular basis at my house. They’ve been given my kids’ seal of approval (4.5 years old and 3 years old) and Dan & I like them too!
Valentine’s Day is a fun holiday when you have kids. Pink and red hearts, tiny candies that say “hug me”, cartoon valentine’s day cards…it’s adorable.
Last year was our first venture in the preschool Valentine’s Day Party circuit, so naturally I went to Target to find some cute Valentine’s Day cards and I was blown away at the amount of candy themed treats marketed towards kids.
At my kids’ preschool they have a party for v-day and parents sign up to bring in different items. I absolutely love that we (parents) get to be involved (it’s a co-op, so we get to volunteer in class as well, which I adore!). I also love that it’s a pretty balanced party as far as snacks go – there is typically a cookie or cupcake brought in, along with fresh fruit, and then the rest of the sign up sheet is non-food related party stuff like festive napkins, and a little holiday themed trinket (eraser, pencil, etc).
It made me happy to see the balance and got me thinking about healthy Valentine’s Day treats that kids and parents would love equally.
Full disclosure – I am 100% for having candy on Valentine’s Day! Chocolate kisses and conversation hearts are some of my faves but I like the idea of celebrating the holiday with festive treats that aren’t candy related.
So I set up a little Valentine’s Day Party with my little ones that was a huge hit!
Mixed Berry Bowls
Most kids love fruit. I’ve also found that most kids will eat anything that is served on a stick or in a cute little bowl.
I combined fresh blueberries and raspberries in these festive little Valentine’s Day Cupcake wrappers that I found at Target. I simply chose fruit that was on sale and would fit well into the little cups. You can completely customize it.
Extra bonus – each child can take their little cupcake wrapper serving of fruit without having to worry about fingers touching all the fruit. Completely class party friendly!
Strawberry Banana Smoothies
This smoothie is a favorite in our house! It’s so simple to make and contains no additional sweetener, just naturally sweet from fruit. Plus you don’t need to add ice because the frozen banana makes it super creamy and thick.
This would be a great hit at a classroom party if you are able to bring in a blender to mix just before serving or you could even freeze individual little cups and allow to thaw slightly before serving.
I picked up the cute little heart shaped straws at the dollar store, adding a festive touch without a lot of extra $$
Combine the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth
If the smoothie is too thick, add more milk
Raspberry Yogurt Bites
How cute are these heart shaped raspberry yogurt bites?
Guess what, they are even easier to make than they are cute and kids love them! Just two simple ingredients – yogurt and fresh fruit.
I got these silicone heart shaped ice cube trays on amazon and used them to make these adorable yogurt bites.
You can use any kind of yogurt you like, but remember with yogurt to be wary of the sugar content. I used strawberry flavored greek yogurt and simple chopped up some fresh raspberries (strawberries were not in season) and then filled the mold and then placed it in the freezer for about 2 hours to set.
Tip on the yogurt bites – make sure you fill each heart shape completely and then scrape extra off with a butter knife so you have a smooth surface on the back.
Raspberry Yogurt Bites Recipe
Prep Time – 5 min
Cook Time – 1-2 hours (in freezer)
Serving – 12 hearts
1 cup fruit flavored yogurt
1/2 cup fresh berries, chopped
Place yogurt in a bowl and combine with chopped fruit
Mix until combined
Spoon mixture into silicone mold until each mold is completely filled
Tip – use a butter knife to flatten the top of each mold to ensure a flat bottom
Place mold in the freezer for 1-2 hours until set
Looking for more Kid Friendly Valentine’s Day Treats, check out these recipes…
Creamy and delicious, this Pistachio Yogurt Dip is the perfect mediterranean inspired hearty healthy dip to accompany vegetables, fish, or even sandwiches.
Disclosure – I received free samples of Wonderful Pistachios mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Wonderful Pistachios and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.
A few years ago, I took a trip to Greece and fell in love with the food. Everything we ate was so fresh and flavorful. The traditional dishes focused on fresh fish and lean protein, olives, herbs, spices, nuts, and fresh vegetables.
With ingredients like that, it’s no wonder the Mediterranean Diet was tied for the #1 Best Diet Overall ranking from US News & World Report.
A main staple of the mediterranean diet is nuts, which can provide healthy fats that may lead to better heart health, less risk of certain cancers and diabetes prevention.
Get Crackin’ with these Health Benefits
The Fit Nut – pistachios are one of the highest protein and fiber snack nuts that are part of a heart healthy lifestyle. Scientific evidence suggests (but does not prove) that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pistachios, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.
The Skinny Nut – pistachios are one of the lowest calorie and lowest fat snack nuts.
The Mindful Nut – in-shell pistachios may help you “fool yourself full” because the leftover shells may provide a visual cue for portions, potentially helping to curb intake.
In Search of the Perfect Dip
I can remember one night in Greece, when the hotel owner prepared us dinner. It was hands down one of the best meals on our trip and I was blown away by the simplicity of it. Grilled chicken skewers cooked over a fire pit and seasoned with fresh lemon and dried herbs were placed on charred flatbread and then topped with the most amazing yogurt sauce.
Since returning home, I made it my mission to recreate that yogurt sauce.
This Pistachio Yogurt Dip is my answer to that mission.
The key is to create a pistachio paste is to first blend the shelled Wonderful Pistachios until they are finely ground. Then adding minced garlic, olive oil, and fresh lemon zest in a blender until you’re left with a deliciously nutty and zesty paste that gives the dip it’s amazing flavor.
If you paste is too thick, add little more olive oil to thin it out to your liking. Mine was thick enough to fill a spoon but still thin enough to drizzle if I held the spoon upside down.
I then took the pistachio paste and swirled it into a bowl of greek yogurt, seasoned with salt and pepper and then topped with fresh parsley, chopped raw pistachios and red pepper flakes.
Honestly I’m lucky I was able to snap any pictures before I just devoured this dip with a spoon. It is that good.
Delicious and Nutritious
I originally served this dip with a platter of beautiful and colorful veggies! It was the perfect way to jazz up plain slices of cucumber, beets, carrots and even endive spears.
The next day I served it on top of pan roasted salmon that I placed on a bed of mixed greens (i.e. bagged salad)…it was unbelievable!
You can never go wrong with a dish that is delicious, versatile, and boasts so many nutritional benefits.
Winter citrus is in season and my husband’s lovely grandmother gifted us with a whole bag of delicious oranges from her tree recently.
In addition to enjoying fresh squeezed orange juice and eating endless amounts of orange wedges, this citrus vinaigrette has become quite popular at meal time. It’s the perfect compliment to leafy green salads and roasted vegetables.
Making the Citrus Vinaigrette is simple – combine minced shallot, olive oil, fresh squeezed orange juice (I used a combo of navel and Cara Cara oranges), lemon juice, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Shake well to combine and you have yourself a delicious dressing.
I like to make a double batch and have it on hand all week long to jazz up veggies!
Last week we had this delicious Roasted Beets with Orange Slices dish that we drizzled with citrus vinaigrette and topped with fresh chopped parsley. So simple but tasty!
This Cast Iron Skillet Salmon is the perfect heart healthy dinner recipe featuring tender salmon topped with crunchy panko breadcrumbs and herbs.
The kitchen section at Home Goods is my happy place.
I just love wandering the aisles and looking at all the very specific kitchen gadgets.
I mean who wouldn’t want a set of plates designated specifically for fresh crab with a cute little red cartoon crustacean and a snappy caption like “let’s get cracking”?
Unfortunately my kitchen isn’t that big and my husband isn’t on board with my desire to have every kitchen gadget ever made. I’ve had to try and keep my kitchen tools collection to those I really use and need.
The theme for this month’s Recipe Redux was to share our favorite kitchen gadget and showcase a recipe that uses that gadget. It was hard to choose just one (my Vitamix and spiralizer were very strong contenders) but in the end I knew I had to pick…
my Cast Iron Skillet.
I use my cast iron skillet all. the. time. It’s the best for searing steak, caramelizing veggies, cooking bacon, or even making cinnamon rolls. Don’t even get me started on how delicious breakfast is with these Breakfast Potatoes with Crispy Pancetta and Herbs from Wanderspice. The cast iron skillet gets the potatoes so crispy on the outside and soft and buttery in the middle…perfection!
The best part is that it easily goes from stove to oven. No more starting something in a pan on the stove and then transferring to an oven proof dish. One less dish…hallelujah!
This Cast Iron Skillet Salmon is a recipe that I make about once a week. It was adapted from this Barefoot Contessa Panko Crusted Salmon recipe with a few changes and personal touches added.
It’s so simple but has so much flavor that people will think you slaved away all day to prepare it.