Banana Pancakes

I have to share one of my favorite recipes with you guys. It’s a favorite because it’s really easy to make, only requires 2 ingredients and tastes delicious! I got this recipe from a book called Bodylicious by Sofi Fahrman and Julia Fors. They are both Swedish bloggers who write about how they balance their life and career to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

These are banana pancakes that you can make for breakfast, brunch, as a snack or dessert.

For about 6 small pancakes you will need:

  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Egg

Squash the banana using a fork, then crack in the egg and whisk all together. Heat up a pan and pour some healthy oil (olive or coconut) in there. Then you pour the mixture in the pan and wait until golden to flip over to the other side- basics, right? The pancakes won’t be as fluffy and thick as regular American pancakes but almost.

The good part about these is that you can add almost whatever you want to them and they will still taste delicious. I usually add some salt, vanilla extract and flaxseeds. Then I serve it with fresh berries and peanut butter. Voilá, you have yourself some amazingly healthy pancakes.

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Clean Key Lime Cheesecake Bites

I’m kind of obsessed when it comes to desserts. I love a good dessert to round off a good dinner or a lunch, especially when I’m out eating at a restaurant. The only problem is that I know I can’t eat those dessert too often, because they are usually a big sugar trap that won’t do any good for my health. I believe that we all deserve something sweet and unhealthy once in a while, but it’s important to find the balance that suits you, not eating too unhealthy and not being too strict with your healthy eating either.

I found this great recipe for Key Lime Cheesecake Bites here that tastes delicious! They’re made out of clean ingredients, making it vegan and gluten free. It wasn’t too hard to make and you can keep them in your freezer for a go-to dessert when you have dinner guests or take a bite whenever you feel those unwanted cravings.

This makes about 18 small bites:

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Pitted Dates
  • 1 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 1 Cup Raw Cashews
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Cashew Butter OR 3 Cups of Pre-Soaked Dates
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Sap (Optional if you like it sweet)
  • 3 Packets of Truvia (or Stevia Brand of Choice)
  • Zest of 1/2 Lime
  • Juice of 1/2 Lime
  • Extra Lime Zest for Topping

Put all the filling ingredients in a small food processor bowl and blend until smooth and set aside. Put all the crust ingredients in a large food processor and blend until dough like consistency with visible chunks of nut. Grease an 8×8 baking pan or glass dish with a healthy oil (I used coconut oil). Top with cheesecake filling using a spoon or spatula to make sure the filling is evenly distributed over the crust. Thinly sprinkle your extra lime zest over the top and cover it up with plastic wrap, then put in freezer overnight. When you are ready to serve remove from the freezer, cut into squares and serve immediately.

I served mine with some greek yogurt and fresh berries and got some excellent response from my dinner guests. They are pretty heavy in taste so don’t make the squares to big, the smaller and cuter the better.

Post-Workout Snacks

Other than eating healthy, we have to do some form of exercise on an every day basis to achieve optimal health. It could be anything from walking to doing high intensity intervals or playing your favorite sport. The main thing is that we are up and moving every day. To maintain a healthy weight for an average teenager, we should be doing some kind of exercise for about 45-60 min/day and do HIIT workouts 2-3 times a week. HIIT stands for high intensity interval training, for example, running intervals on the treadmill, taking a spinning class or swimming. For someone that needs/wants to lose weight, the most important thing is to burn more calories than you eat, but remember that this doesn’t mean that you should eat less!

After a workout, it’s important to refuel your body with the right kind of food. To get a quick muscle recovery we should eat carbohydrates and protein after every workout. Here are some samples of what that could look like:

  • Apple slices with peanut/almond butter
  • Greek yogurt with sliced banana and a drizzle of honey
  • Egg scramble with an avocado on the side
  • Omelette with spinach and turkey
  • High-protein smoothies (here you have a few recipes)

Here’s a very simple recipe for a strawberry smoothie:

  • 1 Banana
  • 6-8 frozen Strawberries
  • 4-5 oz of Almond milk/skim milk
  • 2 tbsp Flaxseed
  • Granola and fresh strawberries for garnish

Mix everything in a blender and pour into a tall glass. Garnish with some homemade granola (find recipe here) and fresh strawberries.

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The basics for making a good smoothie is to add fruit and some kind of liquid, learn the essentials here. To get the perfect post- workout smoothie, add a banana, egg or yogurt for protein, and seeds or nuts for carbohydrates. In this recipe we get our protein from the banana and the milk, vitamins from the banana and the strawberries, and then some good carbs and fiber from the flaxseeds.

 

A Simple Salad

Sometimes, a simple salad is the way to go when you feel uninspired, or maybe lack the time of preparation. Some people find a simple salad to be quite boring, but I’m here to change your mind!

For those of you who don’t know all the different sorts of salads and why some are healthier than others can find a good description of them here. I like to go with spinach and arugula for my salads but there are plenty more to choose from. You want to choose a salad that have clear and colorful leaves, the stronger the color is often means that they contain more nutrients.

Here is a simple but delicious recipe for one of my favorite salads:

Serves about 3-4 people, and takes 25-30 min.

  • 1/2 bag of Baby lettuce
  • 1/2 bag of Arugula
  • 1  Bell pepper (red or yellow)
  • 1/4 Onion
  • 1/2 Cantaloupe
  • 1 Mango
  • 1 package of Mozzarella Bocconcini
  • 1/2 Pomegranate
  • 10 leaves of Basil
  • 1 packet Prosciutto.

Heat your oven to 400°F. Place the slices of prosciutto on a baking paper on top of a baking plate and slide into the oven. They will be ready in about 7-10 min, watch them carefully, you want them to become crispy but not burnt. While the prosciutto is in the oven, prepare the rest of the salad. Chop everything into the shape you prefer, then tare the mozzarella into pieces (it preserves more flavor this way) and place them on top of everything. Finish it off with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds and basil, then place the crispy prosciutto on top.

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Sur La Table- Cooking Class

A week ago I took a cooking class at Sur La Table in Old Orchard, Evanston. The class I took was called Eating Well: Healthy & Flavorful, and I learned a lot!

First off, this was quite an experience. It was so nice to meet new people, eat good food and learn something new! The Chef was very helpful, answering questions and instructive in what we were cooking. I left the class with some new cutting skills, a new recipe to try out and especially, I left with a full and satisfied stomach.

I wanted to share one of my favorite things we made. This was our appetizer but it would definitely suit for lunch as well. We made a Farro Salad with Roasted Chicken and Beet Green Pesto. Farro is an ancient variety of whole wheat. It is considered a healthy whole grain and is excellent in salads, soups and substituted for rice or pasta in many main dishes.

This recipe makes for 4-6 servings and takes about an hour. It is a perfect dish to prepare the day before or keep as leftovers because you want everything to be cold and the pesto will get tastier with time. 

Salad:

  • 1 Cup Italian farro, pearled or semi-pearled
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 2 Tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
  • 1 Pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and butterflied
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Pint grape tomatoes, rinsed and halved
  • 3 Cups baby spinach, arugula or hearty green, stemmed
  • 1/2 Cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Beet Green Pesto:

  • 1/4 Cup walnuts
  • 1 1/2 Cups chopped beet greens (from 1 bunch beets)
  • 1 Small garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/3 Cup basil leaves
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, as needed
  • 1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Cup grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place a medium saucepan filled halfway with water over high heat and bring to boil. Generously season water with salt. Add farro, lower the temp. to medium and simmer until tender, 20-30 min. Drain the farro, ensuring all excess water is removed. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside to cool.

In a food processor, add walnuts, beet greens, garlic, basil, lemon zest and juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; pulse until finely chopped. Pour in oil while pulsing to combine. Add parmesan and continue to pulse until well combined. Set aside.

Arrange chicken on a rimmed baking sheet, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until lightly browned and cooked through, 12-15 min. Let cool to room temp. Transfer to a cutting board and slice into bitesize pieces, or pull apart with a fork or another preferred utensil to create strings of chicken.

Add roasted chicken to the cooled farro. Add pesto and mix thoroughly. Fold in tomatoes and greens. Taste and adjust with seasoning, top it off with grated parmesan, and serve!

Here’s a link to Sur La Table’s website. After participating in any of their cooking classes, everyone gets 10% off on all of their Sur La Table purchases.

 

Afternoon Snacks

When I get home from school or work, I often get hungry or my sweet tooth kicks in. To stop this I try to make a quick snack that keeps me full until dinner but easy enough to make so that I won’t lay my hands on the cookie jar.

First off we have Fruit, an average apple contains fiber and phytonutrients that helps to regulate one’s blood sugar. Most fruits contain large portions of antioxidants, vitamins and fibers which keeps you full and energized for hours. We are told to eat 5-9 servings of fruit each day, so start eating!

Nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber. The fats in nuts are good fats that our bodies need so start consuming more of them! Don’t settle for one particular nut, you should be eating almonds, cashews, pistachios etc. because a mix of different nuts is the best way to consume it according to a 2004 review in the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide. Mixed nuts, ideally raw and unsalted, provide the best variety of nutrients and antioxidants

Popcorn are a delicious snack that most people enjoy. It contains whole grain and antioxidants, it’s cheap and it’s easy to prepare. The best way to eat popcorn is to pop whole popcorn kernels, in the microwave or on your stove. Don’t add any extra fats or sugary seasoning. Grass-fed organic butter and a pinch of salt is the best way to go.

Hummus & crackers go hand in hand. Hummus is rich in protein and iron. It makes for an incredibly yummy taste together with a multi-seed cracker. This will fill you up real good and takes about 20 sec to fix. If you have a bit more time on your hands, peel a carrot, a cucumber or take out some celery to go with it.

Peanut and almond butter contains protein, antioxidants, magnesium, iron and healthy fats. When buying these you want to make sure it’s pure and natural with no additives, so look for the words raw and organic. I love to spread some raw peanut butter on a slice of apple, it keeps me full and soothes my sweet tooth. You can also make your own peanut or almond butter at home, you just put the desired amount of that nut in a food processor and using the highest setting, let the nuts get processed adding minimal amounts of water so that a paste forms.

 

Kale Chips- a healthy afternoon snack

Pretty much everyone love snacks, especially a salty one. When it comes to snacks, it can be sometimes a bit of a struggle to choose a healthy one. I know that when I start eating potato chips, I can’t stop until the bowl is empty. I wanted to find out if there was a more healthy way to snack and then kale chips popped into my mind.

Here’s how I made mine. This is what you need:

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Put the oven on 350°F, then line baking paper on top of a baking plate. Take a leaf of kale and cut the stem off. Try to make the leaves as even as possible in size. Wash the leaves thoroughly and dry them completely with a dishcloth or paper towels. Place all the leaves in a bowl and add the oil. Make sure to cover the leaves completely and place them on top of your baking plate. Then you will season your chips with whatever you like, it could be salt, garlic salt, cheese flavored spice etc.

The chips are done in about 15 min, but half way through you have to turn the chips upside down, so that both sides get crispy. Keep an eye on them because they turn brown pretty easily and you want to take them out just before that. The edges should turn brown but not burnt.

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This took about an hour to finish and to be honest it was kind of a hassle. I think that once you’ve tried this a couple of times it’s going to go by more smoothly but for this first time, it was a struggle. I tried a couple of different seasonings on my chips but the one I enjoyed the most was the dill and onion powder together. I enjoyed eating them, especially when I remembered that I’m indulging in a salty snack that’s good for me.

 

Homemade Granola

Nowadays, there’s a lot of different brands for cereal and granola in our grocery stores but no one wants to stand and read the label for every one of them, to come to realize that most of them contain more sugar per serving size than a candy bar. I usually read all the labels on things I buy, and when I tried to find my match of cereal, I found out that most of them are packed with sugar. I don’t want to start my day by eating a bowl of empty calories so I decided to try making my own granola. I’ve always enjoyed eating greek yoghurt with berries and top it off with some crunchy granola, but I have never made my own before. You can eat this granola as a snack, just like it is, or with some milk or yoghurt and fruit.

I looked up the basics for making homemade granola but gave it my own touch. Here’s the way I made mine, but you can easily put whatever you feel like in it.

  • 2 cups of oats
  • two handfuls of hazelnuts
  • two handfuls of seed mix
  • one handful of raisins
  • one handful of roasted coconut chips
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • A pinch of cinnamon

Start by spreading the oats on a baking plate with baking paper underneath. Put the oven on 300°F, then put your plate of oats in the oven for 8 min. Chop up your nuts and sprinkle on top of the oats, the seed mix and coconut chips as well. Put the honey in a cup and microwave for 10 sec, then pour in the vanilla extract and cinnamon, then blend and pour it over the oats and nuts. Make sure to cover all of the oats and nuts, and then put it in the oven again until the oats turn golden, about 10-15 min (keep an eye on them so they won’t get burned). Take out the plate and let it cool, then add your raisins or other types of dried fruit. Then you’re ready to indulge in your healthy homemade granola.