Pretty Things: May 2017

Pretty Things: May 2017

1.  H2o Plus:  Sea Salt Collection. I have been waiting to share this product for months because it didn’t feel right sharing a sea salt spray in the middle of winter.  I found this stuff last year on clearance because they were changing their packaging, and now I’m hooked.  I was worried when I bought it that the “clearance” sticker meant they were discontinuing it– thankfully that wasn’t the case.  There’s a whole line of sea salt products, but the spray is my favorite.  It’s an alternative to moisturizer during the hot months, and it smells like the beach.  Not in a fake banana-coconut sunscreen way, but in a real authentically beachy way.  It’s so refreshing.  I also used it in my hair.bodygloss_hero_h20plus


2. Alton Brown: Pickled Watermelon Rind.   Alton Brown is kind of a mad scientist when it comes to food. I love the idea of pickled watermelon rind for several reasons.  First, I usually throw away the rind, but it would be cool to turn it into something new.  Second, I love pickles.  And third, I love watermelon (but who doesn’t??)alton-brown-watermelon-pickles


3.  Heather Christo:  Cilantro, Corn, Potato, and Poblano Chowder.  The colors in this soup are so beautiful!  If you’ve never checked out Heather’s blog, it is one of the most inventive and unusually photographed I’ve come across.  Many of her recipes are vegan or gluten free, and the are all made with allergies in mind.  Everything she makes really is this pretty.27136811955_17eceecccb_b


4.  A Cozy Kitchen:  Spicy Cucumber Margarita.  If you’ve never tried a cucumber drink, you should!  I love infused cucumber water, cucumber soda, and cucumber sparkling water.  I also love jalapenos and margaritas.  Since Cinco de Mayo is coming soon, it’s a perfect time to buy some tequila and try something new!margarita.jpg


5.  Bobby Flay:  Grape Focaccia.  Grapes are at their best between May and September (even though I tend to buy them all year).  I love focaccia because it’s airy and crispy while also being chewy and doughy –kind of like a round baguette, I guess?  But much more flavorful because of the salt and olive oil.  This grape focaccia would be perfect on a warm night with some wine and a good salad.cq5dam.web.400.300.jpeg


6.  Soap Queen:  Soothing Floral Bath Salts.  Every time I find a new homemade beauty product, I always swear it’s the prettiest one I’ve seen so far.  And this one is no exception.  This would be a really gorgeous homemade gift for a good friend.Floral-Bath-Salts-Tutorial.jpg


7.  How Sweet Eats:  Summer Skillet Gnocchi.  Look at the char on the corn!  And the basil!  And the cheese!  Something about Jessica’s recipes make me want to use exclamation marks.  Her pictures seem to jump off the page, and this is basically like summer in a bowl.  And in May, I’m pretty much behaving as if it’s summer anyway.summer-gnocchi-I-howsweeteatscom-6.jpg


8.  Giada de Laurentiis:  S’mores Pizzette.  However, if it’s still a little too chilly to hang outside at night, you can always make these s’mores when you feel the need.  It’s all done indoors, and would be a perfect treat for a kid’s sleepover. 20170108_163630_10358_3095.jpeg


Vegan Italian Eggplant Sauté + My Favorite Fast Meals Under 200 Calories

Vegan Italian Eggplant Sauté + My Favorite Fast Meals Under 200 Calories

I’m doing a quick post to share my current favorite recipe, plus a few extras that are barely recipes, but great if you (like me) are fighting stubborn Christmas pounds off.  The older I get, the less I can eat and still be thin.  Living with 4 hungry kids and a 6 foot tall, 200 pound husband leaves me feeling a little left out sometimes.  They can all literally eat whatever they want and stay thin.  Tonight, they’re eating a pasta dish I made earlier, and I’ll be eating an Anything Scramble.  It is what it is, but I refuse to give in to the scale, so here are a few of my super low calories meals and snacks I’ve been eating to get back to my goal.

Vegan Eggplant Sauté (pictured):  You’ll need cooking spray; ½ a medium sized eggplant, diced; a pinch each of cinnamon and dried oregano; 1 ice cube (just wait); 1 Original Vegan Boca Burger; ½ cup marinara sauce; and fresh basil.

  1. Add a quick spray of cooking spray to a sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the eggplant, cinnamon, and oregano.  Sauté for a minute or so.  Add the ice cube, and cover.  Let it steam for 6-8 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, microwave the Boca Burger until warm, about 1 minute. Dice into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Remove the eggplant from heat. Add the Boca Burger and marinara sauce.  Mix together.
  5. Serve with fresh basil.
  • Notes: The ice cube sounds weird, but it helps to steam the eggplant, which cooks it without adding extra fat and calories.  This entire dish has 180 calories, 3 grams of fat, 17 grams of protein, and 12 grams of fiber (that’s half a day’s worth).  It’s also vegan and gluten free.


The rest of these aren’t really recipes, but they’re quick, easy, filling, and perfect for weight loss:

  • Anything Scramble: With 1 whole egg plus 3 whites and your choice of veggies, it’s has less than 200 calories.  It also has 22 grams of protein and virtually no carbs.
  • Whitefish Over Greens with Vinaigrette: Toss the greens (I like baby spinach) with a light vinaigrette.  My favorite is sesame ginger.  5 ounces of cod only has 115 calories and 25 grams of protein, and most whitefish are about the same.  Steam the whitefish using this method.
  • Chocolate Coconut Chia Pudding: This has about 250 calories, and it may seem like a lot for a small pudding.  But you’re getting 9 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber.  This is essentially a homemade meal replacement shake.  If you want it to be drinkable, use 2 tablespoons of chia instead of 3.  This will leave you at 200 calories 6 grams of protein, and 10 grams of fiber (still enough for a small meal).
  • Whole Grain Egg McMuffin: Use Thomas Multigrain English Muffins because they have only 100 calories, and 8 grams of fiber.  I make a microwave scrambled egg to go on this.  All you do is spray a small bowl with cooking spray.  Add one egg, salt, and pepper.  Whisk lightly with a fork.  Microwave for 1-2 minutes, checking every 30 seconds for doneness.  The egg will slide right out and fit the sliced English muffin for a little sandwich.  I like topping the egg with a tomato slice to brighten it up.  This meal has 180 calories, 6 grams of fat, 8 grams of fiber, and 11.5 grams of protein.
  • I also love snacking on pickles because they’re almost calorie free, and vinegar actually curbs your appetite. I eat at least one Oats and Chocolate Fiber One Bar per day—usually 2.  I’ll have one as my breakfast, and I’ll eat one after dinner if I need something sweet.  Each bar has 9 grams of fiber and tricks me into thinking I’m having a chocolate chip cookie.  Pears are my go-to fruit in the winter because 1 small pear has 100 calories and 4 grams of fiber, much more than most fruit.  In the summer, I go for watermelon because it’s very filling, but very low calorie.

Chocolate Coconut Chia Pudding Cups

Chocolate Coconut Chia Pudding Cups

This recipe is another during my Elimination Diet. I’m writing this the day before I start the diet…I had plans to take pictures this morning, but the fog is so dense, I’m afraid I won’t get any good ones.  The reason I’m trying the Elimination Diet is because I get a lot of stomach irritation, and I’m curious to see if there’s any one food group that’s affecting me. 

The Elimination Diet is no dairy, caffeine, alcohol, gluten, nightshades, white carbs, beef, pork, shellfish, processed food, soy, peanuts, eggs, and certain fruits like grapes and bananas.  It’s pretty extensive, but not exhaustive.  You can still have meat, most vegetables, and non-white non-gluten carbs. 

I made a similar pudding last year, but with regular cow’s milk.  I tasted this version along the way and adjusted the flavors to get it as rich-tasting as possible.  Just because you’re on a special diet doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to feel indulgent.  This recipe makes four 8 ounce portions, and each portion has about 260 calories if you follow my recipe exactly.  These are vegan free, gluten free, and Elimination Diet-friendly.  The puddings set up in 6 hours and will keep for about 5 days. 

Chia seeds are interesting little things, aren’t they?  Remember back in the 90s, Chia Pets?  It’s the same thing, except this time, we’re eating them.  Each serving of this pudding has 3 tablespoons of chia seeds.  The seeds are what helps the pudding become pudding.  For every 3 tablespoons, there are 180 calories, 9 grams of fat, 180 mg of potassium, 15 grams of fiber (!), NO SUGAR, 9 grams of protein, plus 24% of your daily Vitamin A and 18% of your daily Iron needs.  Pretty impressive.

When I made these last year, I stored them in glasses with plastic wrap, but that was before I got my half pint mason jars.  I keep finding new reasons to love and accumulate mason jars.  I started using them for salads, but have since used them for homemade beauty products, salad dressings, and now for these puddings.  It’s homemade portable pudding cups tailored exactly to your specifications.  Plus– they’re spill-proof. 

You can top them with anything you like—I suggest toasted unsweetened coconut, almonds, fresh mint, or chocolate shavings (though chocolate shavings are not vegan or Elimination Diet-friendly).


Total Time:  6 hours, 15 minutes (hands-on time 15 minutes)

Difficulty Level:  Easy

Serves: 4best



3 cups of cold unsweetened coconut milk

3 tablespoons of unrefined coconut sugar

2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

12 tablespoons of chia seeds

toasted coconut

  1. Add the coconut milk to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Sift the unrefined coconut sugar and cocoa powder together to remove any lumps. Add them to the milk.
  3. Add the chia seeds to the milk mixture.
  4. Use a whisk to mix everything together thoroughly.
  5. Using 4 half pint (8 ounce) mason jars, add the mixture evenly to each jar.
  6. Put the lids on the jars, and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
  7. Garnish with toasted coconut, mint, almonds, or chocolate shavings (non-vegan, not Elimination Diet-friendly). Puddings will last about 5 days in the fridge.



For the toasted coconut, you’ll need:

A handful of unsweetened flaked coconut



  1. On a toaster oven-sized sheet pan, add a handful of unsweetened flaked coconut.
  2. Place it in a toaster oven, and turn on.
  3. Watch it carefully for 2-3 minutes and pull out of the oven just as it starts to brown.




10 Healthy Recipes for 2017

10 Healthy Recipes for 2017 

This is the second part of my New Year’s Resolutions series.  Aside from being better with money, getting healthy is always at the top of the resolutions.  There is no magic cure for being overweight.  I don’t believe in cutting out certain food groups, and I don’t believe in diet fads.  I only believe in calories in and calories out.  If I splurge and eat cookies for breakfast (it happens more than it should), then maybe I don’t have lunch, or maybe just a small bowl (like, kid-sized) of some leftovers.  Mostly white scrambles are one of my favorite dinners when I’m trying to eat light for dinner. 

In addition to these recipes, here are some of my own favorites:

Spiced Pear and Coconut Oats

Chocolate Coconut Chia Pudding Cups

Grain Bowl Basics

Lemony Roasted Green Beans

Summer Herb Salad

Sweet Potato Chili

Mission Fig Yogurt Bowl with Homemade Granola

Bamboo Steamed Salmon and Veggies

Seared Tuna Over a Powerhouse Kale Salad

Buffalo Chicken Soup

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

Spaghetti and Turkey Meatball Soup

White Bean Chili

Skinny Chicken Salad


Here’s my list of 10 Healthy Recipes for 2017 (in no particular order): 


  1. Cookie and Kate:  Sweet Potato and Black Bean Veggie Burgers.  I made these last winter with baked sweet potato fries.  Of course, nothing can replicate a beef burger, but do you always want to do that?  With plenty of your favorite toppings, this can be a healthy, satisfying and budget-friendly dinner for everyone.sweet-potato-black-bean-veggie-burgers-recipe-0.jpg


  1. Kalyn’s Kitchen: Thai Inspired Turkey Larb Salad.  Spicy food is my favorite kind of food.  Most Thai food in actually pretty healthy, and larb is no exception.  It’s basically a ground turkey salad with Thai flavors.  To make this kid-friendly, serve it to the little ones in flour tortillas like I did when I made a similar dish.1-thai-style-turkey-larb-salad-500-kalynskitchen.jpg


  1. Oh She Glows: Thai-Inspired Hydrating Cucumber Salad with Roasted Spiced Chickpeas.  This is a great side dish for a simply-prepared fish or meat.  The chickpeas make it filling, and cucumbers are one of my favorite side dishes ever.  This would be perfect on one of those tricky warm days that come in the middle of winter.Thaicucumbersaladwithroastedchickpeas-5047.jpg


  1. Café Delites:  Caprese Frittata.  Breakfast for dinner is not only budget-friendly, but can be super healthy if you do it right.  I usually make bacon for our breakfast nights, but I don’t always eat it myself.  I make a mostly egg white scramble for myself give everyone else traditional eggs.  Why not?  The last thing my kids need to do is worry about calories, especially from eggs.Caprese-Frittata-CD-8.jpg


  1. The Creative Bite:  Cranberry Almond Energy Bites.  I usually make these Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites, but I like these because the flavors remind me of my favorite cereal– Cranberry Almond Crunch.  Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from chocolate anyway, right?Cranberry-Almond-Energy-Bites-3-copy-680x450.jpg


  1. Gwyneth Paltrow and Julie Turshen: Salmon with Sriracha Sauce and Lime.  Aside from Perfectly Cooked Brown Rice, this is my favorite recipe from Gwyneth’s cookbook “It’s All Good.”  I am in love with both salmon and sriracha sauce, but I never considered putting them together.  I will say this is not a kid-friendly dish, and is probably better on grown-up night. salmon-sriracha-sauce-lime-fore296


  1. Ambitious Kitchen: Strawberry and Banana Chocolate Chip Oat Muffins.  Like the energy bites, muffins can be a great on-the-go healthy snack or breakfast.  Don’t worry about the chocolate chips because the whole recipe only requires 1/3 cup.  You could even leave them out, but I wouldn’t.  These are made with whole wheat flour, Greek yogurt, and fruit.  They’re *almost* guilt-free.7-IMG_8137.jpg


  1. Proud Italian Cook:  Zucchini Ribbon Salad.  Even though Jon claims not to like zucchini, he likes it depending on how I cook it.  Zucchini tends to get soggy, but if you salt it and lay it on a cloth after slicing it, the liquid will draw out into the cloth, and the zucchini won’t be soggy when it’s cooked.  Plus, with a little goat cheese on the salad, how can you turn it down?  Just a note, goat cheese (along with feta and fresh mozzarella) is one of the most low calorie cheeses out there.ribbonsalad-1.jpg


  1. Williams Sonoma Blog:  Chicken and Sugar Snap Pea Stir Fry.  The only unhealthy thing about this is that it’s served on white rice.  That’s an easy fix—just serve it over  Perfectly Cooked Brown Rice.  Before making this, I never would have been able to identify oyster sauce, but it is what gives this dish its distinctive Asian flavor.WS_MD_ChickenandSugarSnapPeaStirFry-012_Day7-544x724.jpg


  1. Amy’s Healthy Baking:  Skinny Single Serving Microwave Brownie.  I feel like I need to include one dessert on here.  Since you substitute whole wheat flour for white and Greek yogurt for oil, you’ve actually got a pretty fair diet dessert.  It would be even better with just a teensy bit of vanilla ice cream.skinny-single-serving-microwave-brownie_7853.jpg