Super Easy Chocolate Banana Cookies That Taste Like Dessert (with NO Sugar!)

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Are you looking for a healthy “treat” for your kids (and yourself)? Then look no more. Here it is. Not only do these “cookies” taste like a treat, they are SUPER easy to make.

Here is why you should try making these cookies:

  1. They are so satisfying and yummy (I tested them out on a preschool group of parents and kids – all approved!)
  2. They are healthy for you. NO Added sugars*! The raw cacao powder contains magnesium, antioxidants and fiber.
  3. They are gluten-free**, dairy-free**, and nut-free
  4. It only takes 20 minutes to make from start to finish.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 heaping tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • 1 cup oats**
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • (Optional) 1/3 cup mini or regular dark chocolate chips* (other optional add-ins could be raisins, cacao nibs, coconut flakes, flax seeds, or chopped nuts)

Servings: Approximately 20 small cookies

Directions:

  1. Heat your oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, mix together mashed bananas, egg, and vanilla extract.
  3. Add cacao powder, oats, coconut flour and sea salt.. Mix together well.
  4. Now fold in your chocolate chips or other add-in ingredients.
  5. Make about 20 small balls of cookie dough and place evenly around cookie sheet. Lightly press down on each ball to flatten dough into cookie shape.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 12-14 minutes.
  7. Enjoy! Best when warm right out of the oven – we all know this right??! But you can also store in a air-tight container in the fridge for later. In my family, this rarely happens…

Tips:

You can leave out the cacao powder if you want a more traditional tasting dough.

*For no added sugars leave out the chocolate chips or use sugar free chocolate chips

**gluten-free and dairy-free IF you use dairy-free chocolate chips (or leave out) and gluten-free oats 

 

In Summary:

Why are you reading this and not in the kitchen half-way through completing your first batch of healthy, yummy cookies?!? Go! Now! You will LOVE saying “yes” when your kids ask for seconds and you won’t have a guilt complex for feeding them bad foods. #parentingwin

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How to Make Mouthwatering Pulled Beef for 5 Different Meals

This blog post has been requested by so many of my Instagram followers that I spent my weekend writing it for you guys! I couldn’t bear the thought of you all going one more day without this amazingness! The best part about this recipe is that it can be used for at least 5 different meals with very little prep, less than 5 minutes! I’ve used this pulled beef for arepas (pictured in this post), quesadillas, tacos, burrito bowls, and salads. By using a crock pot you spend 5 minutes prepping and then leave it alone until dinner time! So. Easy. In fact, it is so easy I might just have my 7 year old start making this meal….he he he.

Ingredients

  • 2lb Beef – I usually buy a chuck roast but other cuts will work too. Try to get grass fed!
  • Jalapeños, 1-2 depending on your desired spice level, chopped roughly
  • 1 Onion, chopped (totally optional! I had some extra that needed to be used so I threw it in)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 16oz jar chunky salsa (choose your heat level according to your preferences – mild, medium, hot), I love Fronterra brand
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp cumin powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Put the chuck roast in the crock pot. Cover the meat with all the ingredients. Don’t worry about mixing it around the meat too much. As the meat breaks down you can give it a swirl later if you want. It all stews and mixes together eventually. Leave in the slow cooker on low heat for 8-10 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours. Once it is cooked you can shred or pull the beef apart with two forks. If you happen to be home while the meat is cooking, you can also do this step earlier (after at least 5 hours cooking on low or 3 hours of cooking on high)and the juice gets into the center of the meat taster. Either way it will turn out mouthwatering. You can also double this recipe for lots of leftovers if you have a 6-7 qt crockpot. Not that you will have any food left….because it will be SOOOOOO good!! But….if you do, then freeze it in meal size portions sized for your family. This type of slow cooked meat with lots of juices freezes really well.Slow cooked grass fed beef is excellent for those following Paleo, Whole 30, Low Carb and many other healthy diets. Obviously you would have to tailor the rest of the meal to align with your diet.

Gluten-free: use corn only tortillas or serve over rice or greens

Dairy-free: leave out the cheese, if you are making arepas use an oil that is dairy-free like avocado oil.

Paleo/Whole 30/Low Carb: serve over greens, leave out the cheese

This is a family favorite, now it will be yours too!

No Fail Chocolate Kale Smoothie (for kids and adults!)

Get some greens and antioxidants in your kids with this yummy chocolate smoothie. Seriously, it’s delicious. You might actually want to drink the whole thing yourself. But you won’t, because that would be mean. And you’re not a mean parent…I know this because you are reading a blog post on how to get your kids to eat healthier.

Ingredients

1 cup chocolate hazelnut milk (can be substituted with other chocolate milks like almond, coconut or cow’s milk)

1 cup frozen blueberries

2-3 kale leaves

1-2 tablespoon raw cacao (we use Navitas Organics)

1/2 frozen or frozen banana

*raw honey (1-2 Tbsp) can be added if you are weaning your child’s taste buds from sugary sweet foods to less sweet tasting foods. My kids don’t use any honey but they’ve been used to eating this way for a while.

Blend everything in a high powered blender (we use a Vitamix) and enjoy! You can sprinkle extra raw cacao powder or raw hemp seeds on top of you want a little decoration. Enjoy!

What’s For Dinner? Blackened Chicken Salad with Tomatoes, Avocado, Cucumber and Romaine


This is a super yummy, refreshing, light but satisfying, easy meal for those hot summer nights. Whether it’s a laid back weekend or a busy weeknight, this meal has become a staple in our house.

To make the chicken:

Use boneless skinless chicken thighs. Coat the chicken with a homemade rub co sitting of equal parts chili powder, cumin and paprika with salt and pepper to taste. I usually start with 2 Tbsp each and make a second round of needed depending on how much meat I make. Don’t be shy with the rub. The other night I made almost 4lb of meat so we could have leftovers for lunches and other meals.  You can either grill the meat or use a cast iron grill pan on the stove top. When the chicken is done either serve it warm on the salad or cool it down and serve room temperature. Personally, I like to cook it ahead of time because we are usually ot and about for the hours right before dinner.

The rest of the salad:

Chop romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, cucumber and avocado into bite size pieces. For the dressing you can either use a basic dressing made of avocado oil or olive oil with chopped cilantro, salt and pepper or a chimichurri sauce as a dressing.

Mix it all together and enjoy!

My seven and three year old eat this same dinner except like most young children, they don’t like everything mixed together. We just separate everything (and they don’t really eat lettuce yet so we leave that out.)

That’s it, super easy!!!

Green Monster Fudgesicles 

My kids love to suck on spinach. 😜 ha ha ha…. Come on people, I put OTHER ingredients in too!! BUT, these homemade chocolate flavored popsicles are so yummy you would never know that there is spinach in them!


Ingredients

1 cup frozen spinach

1 banana

2 Tablespoons raw cacao (I love @navitasorganics )

1.5 Tablespoons raw honey 

1 cup chocolate coconut milk (or hemp, almond, etc)

Blend in high speed blender like a Vitamix for 30-60 seconds, pour into popsicle molds and freeze overnight.

Nutrition WOW facts:

  • NO added refined sugar
  • NO artificial dyes or colors
  • Gluten-free, dairy-free (if using coconut milk), and nut-free (if using coconut milk)
  • High in magnesium, fiber and antioxidants
  • Vegetarian
  • Totally delicious and amazingly satisfying 
  • Good for ages 12 months to 106

TIPS

  • You can use Greek yogurt and water instead of a dairy free milk to increase protein content.
  • If youre trying to wean your child off of some of the high sugar popsicles, try doubling the honey at first and then reducing the quantity each time as your child adjusts their tastes to less sugary treats. 
  • For popsicle molds, I love the smaller size of these for young kids. If you are looking for something disposable for on-the-go treats or to share with friends check out these.

What’s For Dinner? Slow Cooker Chili Spiked with Veggies

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I love chili on a cold winter night, coated with gooey cheese and steaming in the bowl. After I graduated from nutrition school I began to see the potential in adding more nutrition to everyday meals. Hence, “Chili Spiked with Veggies” was born. It’s the perfect marriage between comforting, warm, tasty chili and healthy veggies. Even better, you can make the whole thing in the crockpot and it only takes about 15-20 minutes (depending on how fast you chop!)

Slow Cooker Chili Spiked With Veggies

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Equipment: Slow Cooker, 7 quart

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pounds ground beef, buffalo (grass-fed) or turkey
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 10-12 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup chili powder (use 1/4 cup for kids or those who don’t like a lot of “heat” to their chili)
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (again, use less for less spicy flavor)
  • 2 cans (each 28oz) diced tomatoes with juices
  • 2-3 small zucchinis, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped in small pieces
  • 1-2 carrots, diced
  • 4 cups (32oz) beef, chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cans (each 14oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Serrano or jalapeño pepper, minced (optional)
  • sour cream or grated cheese and chopped green onion or chives optional for garnishing

Directions

Brown the ground meat over medium-high heat either in the slow cooker insert (if it is OK to be used on stovetop – mine is and I love this function!) or in a skillet. Season with salt and pepper while cooking. If using a high fat content meat you may want to drain off some excess fat.

Reduce heat to medium, add the garlic and yellow onions to the meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, and cayenne and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, zucchini, bell pepper, carrot, and kidney beans. Add the broth and stir to combine.

Transfer the slow cooker insert to the base, or spoon the ingredients from the skillet into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.

Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper and more spices if desired. If you want even more of a kick to your chili, add an additional Serrano or jalapeño pepper (minced) to your chili for the last 15-20 minutes of cook time. Ladle the chili into bowls and garnish with your choice of sour cream, grated cheese, green onion and/or chives.

https://therealisticlunchbox.wordpress.com/

 

How to Make Simple Moong Daal


In this blog post I’m going to lean heavily on the fact that this blog is “realistic”…as in A) my kitchen is not large, commercial or perfect, B) my videographer is a 6 year old using my iPad (no fancy equipment or lighting here!) and C) I often have to cook with my kids because I’m the only adult at home with them and they have recently decided that they want to be a part of everything I do and can’t play by themselves anymore 😕. Although, I am happy when they are interested in cooking with me, it just adds an extra element or two. So, if you are possibly thinking that you can’t cook with kids, think again! It might be a little bit slower, messier and require a bit of prep beforehand but you will also be giving your children the gift of “real food awareness”. That cooking real food can be fun, yummy and healthy. They may not eat everything you cook at first….or much of anything, but the skills and memories they observe and acquire in the kitchen will stay with them forever. (Thanks for that Mom!) 

Ok, on to the reason you opened this blog post. If you don’t know what moong daal is (also known as mung daal), then it’s time I introduce you. Moong beans are legumes and are rich in fiber and folate. They also contain high amounts of protein, iron, magnesium, and Vitamin K. (1)  Moong daal is easily digested and therefore a great food for people recovering from illness.

Where to find moong beans? I shop at a local Indian market. Many “health food” stores and co-ops also carry moong (or mung) beans. This recipe uses the yellow kind (not the green ones). Often grocery stores can special order it for you as well. 


The Ingredients

1 Cup uncooked yellow Moong beans (also known as mung beans)

3 cups Chicken or Vegetable stock 

1 tsp sea salt

1/2-1 Onion – chopped finely

4 Garlic Cloves

2 tsp Turmeric

2-3 tsp Cumin seeds, toasted (toast in pan lightly on stovetop)

2 tomatoes chopped finely

Chili – totally optional (I leave it out when making this for my kids)

1/2 cup – 1 Cup Cilantro – chopped (more or less per your taste)

Ghee, or butter for frying


Directions

Soak the moons beans for 1-2 hours covered in room temp water with a spoonful of salt. If you are doubling or tripling the recipe, remember how much moong beans you started with because it will expand! 

Drain and rinse soaked beans. Based on how much moong daal you started with, triple the vegetable or chicken broth, add this and the turmeric and the sea salt with soaked moong beans to a large pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. 

—Here is a video – totally “realistic” of this step. https://youtu.be/Uh9_JYIGZ1g  3min 58sec long

While the broth/bean mixture is heating up, pan fry the onion, garlic, and cumin seeds for 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes and fry a little more (3-4 minutes). 

—Here is a video – again, I’m in my post-yoga workout clothes 😳 – of this step. https://youtu.be/PEEraokdXLU. 4min 37sec long

Add this pan fried mixture to pot and let it all simmer together partially covered for about 45-60 minutes.

—Here is a short video of this step – the kids are almost over it at this point…are you? https://youtu.be/qnwmkQjgvuM  1min 08sec long 

When daal has achieved the desired consistency (which is tough to describe exactly but the beans will be starting to get “mushy” but still retain some of their shape) remove from heat and stir in chopped cilantro. 
Now you can enjoy the daal by itself or over rice to make it a complete vegetarian protein (assuming you used the vegetarian broth). Serve with naan or paratha (optional). This dish is also great as a side dish to compliment other Indian dishes.  




NOTES

*This dish is gluten-free, dairy-free (if you use ghee most people with diary allergies are fine with this but if you have an extreme allergy use coconut oil), nut-free, and vegetarian (if you use the vegetable broth).

**In the videos we quadrupled the recipe and froze most of the leftovers in 16oz freezer safe mason jars (great for an individual serving!) This is a great way to cook once for many, MANY meals. 

***If you are cooking with kids, remember to SOAK the beans 1-2 hours before you want to start cooking them, PREP EVERYTHING, and make sure your kitchen workspace is clear and clean. This will make it a much more enoyable experience!

****Video Credit to Tejus Vachani, age 6 and the Sous Chef is Kai Vachani, age 3


Sources

1 NutritionData.com


Kids Will Drink Their Greens In This!

This smoothie is delish. If your child likes chocolate and banana…they will love this. Oh yeah, and it has kale and spinach in it too. Win-win!  

  
This is how I made it.

Ingredients (makes about 2 small child portions):

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup chocolate coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach
  • 1 large or 2 small kale leaves (not baby kale – the big kind!)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of raw honey
  • 1 Tablespoon of raw cacao (extra chocolate is always better!)

Blend in a high powered blender (we used a Vitamix) and enjoy immediately! Beware, your kids may ask for more.

As listed above this smoothie is dairy-free, gluten-free, peanut-free, nut-free, and vegetarian. 

This smoothie is rich in antioxidants, fiber, calcium and magnesium and even has some healthy fats from the coconut milk. If you are trying to get more healthy fats/calories in your child you could even throw in a teaspoon of coconut oil! If you want to add some protein you could always add some hemp seeds, or a nut butter if you don’t have any nut allergies. Since we had this smoothie as a side to gourmet grilled ham and cheese on sprouted whole grain bread we didn’t need any extra protein. Wow, that was a good lunch. My 3 year old ate and drank it all up! 

  

Enjoy! And don’t freak out when your kids ask why it’s a little green…tell them the truth – or not, it could always be a “monster” smoothie or green like “The Hulk”? 

If your child (or yourself?) is a little averse to drinking greens, start out with far less of the spinach and kale and slowly increase amounts as time goes on.  A little bit of veggies is better than nothing, and most parents tell me their kids eat close to nothing. Baby steps. Don’t try to conquer the veggie world with one smoothie!

Kale Chips You Will Want to Eat!

 
Ah…beautiful kale. I know you are so healthy for my kids but aside from hiding you in smoothies, I can’t figure out how to get my kids to eat you!

(Spend 2 minutes on Pinterest for ideas). Then 20 minutes later…

O.M.G.  Today I made kale chips that were a massive success. Up until now I’ve been too lazy to try and make kale chips and now I’m shaking my head, why did I wait so long? Why was I so afraid? They are so easy! How is it that I haven’t done this yet?!? (I think again to myself.)

  

Here’s how easy it is…

Preheat oven to 350F. While waiting for oven to heat up, wash and dry kale (I used a salad spinner). Break up kale into “chip size” pieces or slightly bigger (I think the bigger the better for the way they bake) and spread over parchment paper covered cookie sheets. Don’t overcrowd. Lightly drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and perhaps a few seasonings like garlic salt or paprika or chili powder or cumin? Bake for 10-15 min and enjoy. Warning: this may become an addictive habit. 

I think I may have eaten half of a bunch of kale without even realizing it. This may actually prove to be quite an expensive, albeit healthy, habit! 

Note: I’m still trying to figure out how I would store these if we didn’t eat a whole batch at once, if you put them in a ziplock they seem to get soggy. Any ideas?

Broccoli Pancakes

I am SO sick of my 2 year old (almost 3 year old) NOT eating veggies! His brother eats anything raw, and some cooked veggies but this little guy is a different story. I know I’m exaggerating, he does eat some veggies…smoothies, smoothies, Popsicles….wait, maybe he doesn’t eat that much? Well, we try, and I think we are doing OK, but just “OK” in my mind isn’t going to cut it. I mean, I KNOW the importance of veggies, both long term and short term. How intake of antioxidants and immune boosting nutrients can help him, how calcium can affect long term bone health, how….well, I could go on and on. This is the age old battle with toddlers, is it not?

Tonight I decided to take a stand. I WILL figure out a way that he LIKES to eat veggies. The force was strong with me tonight. And succeed I did. With the 2 year old. The 6 year old proceeded to critique the experimental broccoli pancakes like he was one of the “super tasters” (He’s NOT).

This was how it all unfolded.


I looked in my fridge and had lots of leftovers. These were the main veggies (plus the carrots which were getting old). I was wondering what to do with them….so I decided pancakes were a good idea.


I put it all in a bowl and mixed it together.


Then I pan fried it. Who DOESN’T like pan fried anything?!?


Finished product. The picture doesn’t do it justice. It is actually really amazing. But since my 6 year old “complained” I added some shredded cheese to batch 2….AH-MAZING. These will be in their lunches tomorrow.

 

Broccoli Pancakes

makes about 8 pancakes


Ingredients

1 cup finely chopped cooked broccoli

1 cup shredded raw carrot

4 eggs, whisked

4 Tbsp coconut flour (I’m pretty sure you could do any flour)

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup rice (pre-cooked), the one pictured here was leftover cilantro lime rice from Make Your Own Burrito Bowls

Dash of cardamom (because I can)

Salt and pepper to taste

Coconut oil for pan frying

(1/2 – 1 cup shredded cheese is optional)
Mix everything together, smack it into balls and squish in the pan to form pancakes. Fry on low-medium for 4-5 minutes each side.

That’s it. Now you and your kids are eating veggies.
This recipe is gluten-free, nut-free and dairy-free if you omit the cheese!=

Serve cold in lunches or freeze and toast when you want some more!