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23 Tea and Coffee Healthy Alternatives

23 tea and coffee healthy alternatives

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Paleo, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free… whether you have strict dietary restrictions or are trying to improve your eating habits, it isn’t always easy to completely exclude food and beverages that you truly enjoy savoring.  Many of us need that energy boost provided by caffeine and have tried to find better options to the usual coffee with sugar and creamer.  Lucky for you, I have found 23 tea and coffee healthy alternatives and I am sharing them with you today!  Which one are you going to try first?

Dirty Chai

Flu survival tea

The cold buster

Cleansing ginger lemon tea

Orange clove tea

Love your liver herbal coffee

Easy rooibos latte

Paleo pumpkin latte

Pumpkin spice coconut latte

Coconut latte

Peppermint Mocha Latte

Skinny vanilla latte

Skinny caramel mocha

Peanut butter cup caramel latte

Clean eating peppermint mocha

Hot buttered toffee “coffee”

Cinnamon coconut coffee

Clean eating blender coffee

Protein coffee

Pumpkin spice protein shake

Paleo Mocha Frappe Coffee Drink

Coconut water iced coffee

Skinny Vanilla Iced Coffee

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Best Recipes of 2014 #Foodie

Check out Best of 2014

by Sheila Cooper Thomas at Foodie.com

Disclosure ~  Living Smart Girl is bringing you this great sponsored post in collaboration with #Foodie @foodie  @foodiebyglam

Wow, it’s hard to believe that another year has come and is just about gone.  I just can’t believe how fast the days go by.  It seems the older I get, the faster the years fly by.  I remember being young, and just wishing the days would fly by, but now, I wish they would just slow down a bit.  I want to have special moments last forever, but alas I know they won’t.  One way I can keep days alive and in my memory is by taking pictures, or blogging about things.  I also love to do up collections of recipes so I can look back at what our favorite dishes of the year were.  I wanted to share with you some of our favorite’s of 2014.  A nice collection of healthy, sweet, paleo, gluten free and fun.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we did, and will continue to enjoy them thru 2015.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

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SNOWY CHOCOLATE PINE CONES

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SNOWY CHOCOLATE PINE CONES

A fun recipe to make with the kids.   This is so good, and so cute!  One might not want to eat them, they are so cute!

PineConeIngredients

Yields: 6 servings

Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

3 cups Chocolate Fiber One Cereal (can also use Chex Chocolate Cereal)

6 pretzel rods

1⁄2 cup peanut butter

1⁄4 cup Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar (+ 1⁄4 cup for dusting on top)

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Directions:

1. Mix the peanut butter, Nutella, butter and powdered sugar in a bowl

2. Take a pretzel rod and mold some of the mixture around it, forming a slight cone shape

3. Hold it steady by using the tip of the pretzel as a handle, and start inserting pieces of cereal into the mixture in a

symmetrical pattern around the stick. Add more cereal pieces, staggering them as you move upward until you get
near the top.

4. If the pine cone is getting too tall, cut off the top of the pretzel and add more of the mixture to mold over the top so
none of the broken pretzel is showing.

5. Break apart cereal pieces to create smaller scales near the top.

6. For a “snowy” effect, dust each pine cone with powdered sugar.

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Reindeer Cupcakes


		
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Reindeer Cupcakes
It’s that time of year again.   The Holidays are upon us and we are all doing that fun holiday baking.  I love these cute cupcakes and so does everyone who see’s or eats them.  Not only are they adorable, but they tickle your taste buds to boot!!  
I would love to see your pictures of your Reindeer Cupcakes when you make them. Make sure to follow me on all my social networks and share your pictures with me on Facebook.


Ingredients For the Cupcakes

1/2 Cup butter, softened to room temperature
2 eggs
1 Cup milk
1 tsp. white vinegar
1  1/2  Cup flour
1 Cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/3 Cup cocoa powder

For the Peanut Butter Frosting

1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, Softened
1/2 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
2 Cups Powdered Sugar, Sifted
1/2 Tsp Vanilla
4 TBsp Milk

For the Reindeer

Red Wilton Decorating Icing
Wilton Black Decorating Gel
Mini Marshmallows
Small Pretzel Twists

Directions For the Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 12ct. cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl combine the ? cup of softened butter, 2 eggs, milk, sugar and vinegar. Beat until smooth.
In a separate bowl combine the flour,baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. Mix well and slowly fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients stirring until smooth and all lumps are gone.
Pour the batter evenly into the cupcake liners and bake 19-21 minutes. Around 19 minutes insert a clean toothpick into the cupcakes and if it comes out clean they are done.
Allow the cupcakes to cool completely prior to decorating.

For the Frosting

Mix Butter and Peanut Butter in a medium sized bowl until smooth. (If using an electric mixer set to medium speed.)
Slowly add Powdered Sugar until blended and then add Vanilla.
Add Milk and mix until smooth (about 2 minutes).

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To Assemble

Place a drop of the decorating icing about 2/3 of the way down the cupcake for the nose.
Cut the Marshmallows in hald and then press into the icing above the nose.
Use the Black decorating Gel to draw eyes onto the marshmallow halves.
Carefully press the pretzels into the frosting for antlers.
Enjoy!

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Spiced Pumpkin & Oatmeal No Bake Cookies

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Spiced Pumpkin & Oatmeal No Bake Cookies

(Makes approx. 1.5 dozen cookies)

One of my favorite cookies to make is a no bake cookie, and I think one of my hubby’s favorite to eat also.  I say that because when I make them they disappear as fast as I am making them.  ;)

Ingredients_NoBakePumpkinCookies

Ingredients:

1 c. pumpkin puree

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/8 tsp. clove

1/4 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. caramel

4 TB. butter

1/2 c. milk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. sea salt (plus extra to sprinkle on tops of cookies)

3 c. oats

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Directions:

1. Combine pumpkin puree and spices in saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a slow boil then reduce to low.

2. Add sugars, caramel, butter and milk and cook until mixture comes to a boil, bring to low heat. Stir until
smooth, making sure sugar is fully dissolved. Add vanilla extract and sea salt, mix until combined.

3. Stir in oats, one cup at a time until completely coated in pumpkin mixture.

4. Place tablespoon-sized balls onto parchment paper and sprinkle with sea salt. Let come to room
temperature for about an hour before serving or place in refrigerator or freezer until cool.

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Crock Pot Chicken Spinach Lasagna

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Back about in 2010, when we used to own a small town bar, we did pot luck for the locals, every Thursday. I was always trying to find something new and exciting to make and came across a recipe for a crock pot chicken lasagna.  Now, I am not a big fan of lasagna, mainly because of some of the ingredients.  But, I love chicken and like spinach and thought I would change this up a bit to my liking.  I hope you try it, and like it as much as we do, and as the whole group at the pot luck that night did.  I passed out many copies of my version of the recipe.

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Ingredients

1.5 Cups Sour Cream
1 Cup Almond Milk
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1 Cup Cheddar Cheese
1 Cup Mozzarella Cheese
3 – 4 Large Chicken Breasts
Package of Frozen Spinach
Lasagna Noodles (Uncooked)

Directions

I boil my chicken in water, till about done, then cut into chunks.
Put the spinach in a colander, run under water to thaw.  Drain and squeeze out all the water and cut up really good.
Mix together the sour cream, cream of chicken soup,  milk chicken and spinach.   Season with some salt and pepper.

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Break up your noodles to layer in the bottom of your crock pot.  You don’t have to be picky, they cook up just fine.

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Layer the noodles, then add a layer of the wet mixture over the noodle, then sprinkle a bit of each cheese over the wet mixture.
Continue making layers until you run out of the wet mixture.   I usually end up with 3 layers.   You can also mix the cheese all into the wet mixture if you like, as it all ends up melting and combining when hot.

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Once all layers are done, cover and cook 3-5 hours depending on how many layers.  You can test at about 3-4 hours and see if the noodles are soft.  The edges get nice and crispy.    Enjoy, and pass the recipe to all you feel would love this!  It is soooo good!

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Oven Dried Apple Rings

applerings

 

Ingredients
1. 7-8 Apples
2. 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

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Instructions:

1. Wash the apples then core and slice them into 1/4 inch rings. Using a Mandolin makes this process a lot easier.
2. Discard top and bottom rings with the most skin on them.
3. Prevent browning by dropping apples into a bowl with the lemon juice and 2 cups of water.
4. Dry the apples on a clean kitchen towel then lay slices on wire racks over baking sheets.
5. Dry the Apples in the oven for 2-10 hours on low heat (140 degrees F), turning occasionally. Dry longer for crisp slices, and less for soft slices.
6. Remove the slices from the oven and allow to cool completely before storing in sterilized airtight jars in a dark cool place.

If you like a bit of cinnamon on your apples, you can always sprinkle them with cinnamon right out of the oven.  YUM!

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5 Things You Need To Know About Green Smoothies

Green Smoothies

Hello there soon-to-be smoothie lover!

Freshly pressed and blended or bottled, smoothies are red hot. You may have seen photos of celebs spotted after their sweat sesh in the gym holding a mason jar filled with green smoothie or your co-worker downing a glass and wondering why would any one drink that—ugh, greens. The “healthy eating” craze just got crazier!

But, can you blame them? With health issues such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and other chronic conditions on the rise, it seems like people will do just about anything for their health to be in tip-top condition.

We’ve all heard it, “what you don’t know won’t hurt you”, right? Wrong! There is no perfect diet for everyone but there are a lot of wrong ones—and you’ve got to know which is which.

In the crowded sea of fad diets and healthy eating tips and tricks, green smoothies are among some of the most popular must-eat/must-drink nutritional powerhouses on the market. Some people even go an extra mile and make their own from fresh fruits and veggies. Of course, eating a variety of foods is still one of the most important factors to consider for a nutritionally-balanced diet but with the right ingredients, these blended greens can surely put up a good fight for the “healthiest of them all” title that all these healthy eating regimes seem to compete for.

Smoothies vs. Shakes

So what are smoothies, really? And how are they different from shakes? Why can’t we just call them green shakes instead of green smoothies?

A smoothie is typically made with fruit—frozen fruit, fresh fruits, fruit juice, etc. It’s not a dairy affair but more of a fruit party, actually. While shakes, on the other hand, is a dairy-based treat usually made of milk, ice cream or both. The thickness of a smoothie or a milkshake does not change the name of the drink. As long as you can suck it up with a straw, it’s either a smoothie or a shake. When you start to need a spoon, then it becomes an ice cream or a sorbet.

What comes first to your mind when you hear the word vegetable? You probably pictured a green vegetable—a broccoli, maybe?

Even though there are other vegetables that are not green in color you probably thought of a green veggie. It may be because the color green somehow signifies good health. See that health bar when you play a video game? It’s green when your character is still “healthy” or alive. You get the point.

Now that makes sense! Since smoothies are typically made using fruits, green smoothies are “green” smoothies because they are mostly made of veggies—the green ones, usually.

But, why not call them veggie smoothies instead?

Sure, you can call it veggie smoothie or vegetable smoothie or whatever floats your boat (really), but for some reason “green smoothie” fits right. Its simplicity is quite catchy, don’t you think?

Health Benefits

A lot of people are going on a green smoothie rampage in hopes of keeping the doctor away and the stubborn weight gain at bay—two things that are almost impossible not to happen in a typical sugar- and salt-laden diet that most people have.

But why smoothies? Why not eat real vegetables?

Eating fresh vegetables instead of blended ones sounds ideal. But in this fast-paced life filled with deadlines and demands, convenience is everything. Not everyone has the time to eat home-cooked meals, let alone sit down and eat 3 servings of vegetables every day. And when you’re trying to be a “responsible” adult—taking care of your health by avoiding fast foods and opting for healthy food choices, you try (force yourself) to do the right thing: you eat vegetables.

World Health Organization (WHO)/ Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recommends a minimum of 400 grams of fruit and vegetables per day to prevent several micronutrient deficiencies and chronic diseases.

400 grams, wow!

If you’re not really a veggie fan then that may sound a lot. How do you include them in your diet—without choking? Enter green smoothies. A smoothie is probably the ultimate convenience food. You don’t even have to chew it. Still not convinced green smoothies are worth a try? Here are some more reasons why you should be on your way to buying a blender right now:

  1. You can up your fruit and vegetable consumption

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 16 million (1.0%) disability adjusted life years or DALYS (measure of the potential life lost due to premature mortality and the years of productive life lost due to disability) and 1.7 million (2.8%) of deaths worldwide are attributed to low fruit and vegetable intake.  It is also accounted for around 14% of gastrointestinal cancer deaths, 11% of ischemic heart disease deaths, and about 9% of deaths due to stroke globally.

When it comes to numbers (and not just numbers, I mean numbers pertaining to diseases and even deaths—yikes!) from a reputable source it’s really convincing to do what you’ve got to do in order not to, you know, contribute to these numbers. Green smoothies promise weight loss and loads of nutrients all in a single, gulpable serving. Drinking them makes it easier to get more fruits and vegetable into your diet, or that of your family.

  1. Green smoothie makes a good post-workout meal

Blending breaks down the hard-to-digest plant cell walls and improves their digestibility, allowing your body to absorb the nutrients in your smoothie more easily. This is one of the reasons why a smoothie makes a perfect post-workout meal.

Your body uses stored energy in your muscles to power through your workout. It’s very important that you replenish the nutrients lost during your sweat sesh to maximize its health benefits. It is recommended to get a combination of carbohydrates and protein immediately into your body as this gives your muscles the ability to replenish glycogen (the stored energy you used) and allows them to rebuild and repair as they recover.

Smoothies are rehydrating and loaded with nutrients that can be easily absorbed by your body. Not to mention, they are refreshing, too!

  1. You get more fiber

Dietary fiber, also known as roughage, includes all parts of plant foods that your body can’t digest or absorb.

It is food mainly in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains and is probably best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. But foods containing fiber can provide other health benefits such as reducing your risk of diabetes and heart disease and lowering your cholesterol and sugar levels. It also aids in weight loss. Eating fiber-rich foods can make a meal feel larger so you stay “feeling full” for a longer period of time.

  1. No need to add the big “C” in your already complicated life

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, accounting for 8.2 million deaths in 2012. Annual cancer cases are expected to rise from 14 million in 2012 to 22 million within the next two decades.

How not to add to these numbers?

Antioxidants!

Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against cancer-causing free radicals. In general, fruits and vegetables are chock-full of nutrients and antioxidants that are essential for optimum health, but not all foods are created equal. Some fruits and vegetables stand out in terms of antioxidant concentration as well as antioxidant capacity per serving size more than others. Among other fruits, cranberries, blueberries, and blackberries ranked highest while beans, artichokes, and Russet potatoes top other vegetables.

  1. You can lose weight

How do you distinguish a fad diet from a diet that really works? Well, a lot of fad diets and weight loss programs promise rapid weight loss—which can be great, only if they don’t leave you starving and depressed. Weight loss is a journey. You didn’t pack on those extra pounds overnight so don’t expect that you’ll shed them off quickly.

Permanent weight loss can be dragging but what makes it worth the wait is the fact that it is permanent.  Fad diets claim that they know a “shortcut” to weight loss. The truth is: there are no shortcuts. The shortcut they will share with you often leads to starvation. Yes, you will lose weight and yes, it will be fast, but pretty soon the weight you lost will catch up and you will find yourself back to square one. You don’t want that. No one wants that.

Green smoothies are mostly made of vegetables. And we all know that vegetables are one of your weight loss BFFs. With the right combination of ingredients, green smoothies may be the key to having the hot bod you’ve always wanted.

DIY Green Smoothies

Are you ready to make your way to rich green smoothie goodness?

What blender to use

What you’ll need is a blender and a little amount of patience. If you’re a grab-and-go type of eater—oftentimes falling into takeaway traps and wants to take baby steps towards healthy eating, making smoothies is a good start.  It should take about 5 minutes to prepare. So try to sit back and relax while you let your blender do the job.

If you’re always on the run but doesn’t want to buy bottled smoothies, you may want to buy a blender that blends fast so you won’t feel as if making smoothies robs you off of your precious time. But this kind of blender is a bit pricey. In making smoothies, it doesn’t really matter what kind of blender you use as long as it serves its purpose. A blender that effectively blends your green smoothie ingredients is a good blender.

Ingredients

The ingredients that you will use in making your own smoothies are pretty obvious. Fruits and vegetables are must-haves in your smoothie business. Some of the green smoothie essentials that you need are kale, spinach, romaine, collards, non-fat milk, coconut milk, coconut water, almond milk, banana, mango, berries, apple, grapes, and avocado.

You can add other fruits and vegetables, too! No doubt they are chock-full of nutrients so don’t be scared. Experiment all you want! The smoothie that you make is only as effective as the ingredients you use. Substitution is the key. Do not be afraid to try new things.

Yes, it can taste terrible. But, hey at least you can learn something from it. After all, a mistake is only a mistake if you don’t learn anything from it. Most of the oh-so-good smoothie recipes you see on the Internet stem from brave attempts of making different fruit and vegetable combinations work. You bet most of them taste beyond terrible, but a little tweak on the ingredients can make a big difference.

Start blending!

You may think that making a smoothie is as simple as putting all the ingredients in your blender. You’re right! It’s as simple as that! But if you want to get the best out of your nutrient-packed smoothies (of course you do!), you may want to consider doing them the proper way.

Start by blending 2 cups of leafy greens and 2 cups of liquid base together. If you’re trying to lose weight, you may want to use non-fat milk as your liquid base instead of coconut milk. Or better yet, use water. But the good thing about using milk is that it adds to the creaminess of your smoothie, making slurping a little bit more fun. It can also hide the distinct “green taste” of veggies. It really works wonders!

Next, add 3 cups of ripe fruit and blend again until the texture of your smoothie is well, smooth. And voila! Enjoy your smoothie!

Life is about making choices—choices that make you happy. Making smoothies is pretty much the same. In the end, what will be most effective is a diet you enjoy!

Resources:

World Health Organization (WHO)

Promoting fruit and vegetable consumption around the world

http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/fruit/en/

Cancer

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/

American Heart Association (AHA)

Fiber

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Whole-Grains-and-Fiber_UCM_303249_Article.jsp

Tell me more about your experiences with smoothies in the comments section below!

Author Bio :

Leanne Thompson is an author and a blogger who has contributed to some of the most well-known Health, Fitness and Nutrition blogs. She has struggled with her weight in her teenage years, which has driven her to undertake a Bachelors of Nutrition degree in the renowned Iowa State University, mostly to study the needs of a human body and how to make the most out of her life. She has made it her life goal to spread awareness about the importance of healthy weight loss and the well-being of people she has contact with. Visit her nutrition & health blog to find out more information!

15 Sweet Apple Recipes for Fall

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15  Sweet Apple Recipes for Fall

If you have made a recent trip to the orchard and have an abundance of freshly picked apples on hand, you will love these 15 Sweet Apple Recipes for Fall. There is something for everyone in this collection. From Cheesecake to Apple Nachos, these sweet recipes will make good use of your apples and have your family cheering for more!

1. Mini Apple Dumplings by Mommy Musings

2. Apple Pie Cookies by  The Kitchen is My Playground

3. Caramel Apple Bundt Cake by The Grant Life

4. Caramel Apple Cheesecake by Sweet Bella Roos

5. Simple Caramel Apple Cupcakes by Southern Girl Ramblings

6. Chocolate Double Caramel Popcorn Apples by Songbirds and Buttons

7. Pear Stuffed Baked Apples by A Day In Our Shoes

8. Busy Mom’s Apple Pie by Second Chance to Dream

9. Apple Pie Dip by Mom’s Test Kitchen

10. Caramel Apple Dip by Passions for Savings

11. Bacon Apple Coffee Cake by Keep It Simple Sweetie

12. Caramel Apple Blondies by Call Me PMC

13. Apple Nachos by Thinking Closet

14. Apple Butter Popcorn by Simply {Darr}ling

15. Apple Crisp No Bake Cookies by I Want Crazy

I am anxious to try a few of these recipes this weekend with my family.
Do you have a favorite sweet apple recipe? I would love to hear about it in a comment.

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Apple Recipes to Drool Over #Foodie

Check out Apple Recipes to Drool Over

by Sheila Cooper Thomas at Foodie.com

Disclosure ~  Living Smart Girl is bringing you this great sponsored post in collaboration with #Foodie @foodie  @foodiebyglam

Tis the season for gathering up all those apples off the trees and off the ground. Or, maybe you have no apple trees and you are heading to the local farmers market to get a basket or two to make some of your favorite apple recipes.  I sure miss the days of having apple trees, so I am one hitting the farmers market or road side stands.  I love making apple recipes and it really helps me get in the fall mood.  The smell of apples cooking warms the heart and soul.  Check out my apple recipes to drool over collection.  What would you like to try and make?  What is your all time favorite apple recipe?  Share it with me and I will add it to my collection.