Bake like a boss this holiday season

One of my favorite childhood memories at Christmas is making homemade sugar and gingerbread cookies with my mom and sister each year. The house would be filled with this heavenly aroma of sugary sweetness, and my sister and I would get to apply our inner art skills with joy and grace to every cookie we decorated. Not only do you get to create memories that can last a lifetime when doing your holiday baking, you also get to enjoy the deliciousness that each cookie has to offer. The only downside, there’s a reason why Santa’s waistband is so grandiose. You can’t eat copious amounts of cookies without adding a little extra junk to your trunk.

That’s why this weeks post will give you some ideas on how to bake like a boss this holiday season by cutting the calories in your cookies and other baked goods without compromising their taste.

Christmas baking

Tip 1: Better your brownies

Brownies

Try substituting tofu for half of the fat in your brownie recipe. Now I know many people recoil at the word tofu, but tofu has a neutral taste that is overpowered by the delicious chocolate flavor. In fact, a study done at Idaho State University found that 8 in 10 people liked fudge made with tofu in place of butter. Try substituting pureed silken or soft tofu for half of the fat your brownie recipe calls for. This will cut calories and boost the protein and calcium in your brownies.

You can also reduce the amount of sugar in your brownies by ¼ cup by substituting ⅔ cup of  finely grated fresh beet as recommended by pastry chef Marisa Churchill. The beets will add moisture, natural sweetness, and gives you the opportunity to sneak a little veggie into your brownies.

Tip #2: Keep your cookie portions in check

Cookies

Cookies in sleigh

Cookies up close - EditedUse a smaller portion for your cookies. It may be shocking, but most chocolate chip cookies are 7 times larger than what the USDA recommends for a healthy portion. Making your cookies smaller can help keep your portions in check by reminding you of the appropriate cookie size (use 1 tablespoon to measure out your dough).

Cookie dough

You can also try using 1 cup of mini chocolate chips in exchange for 2 cups of regular chocolate chips. This will cut back  1120 calories and 64 grams of fat but still offer chocolate chips in every bite.

Tip #3 General baking substitutions

White Whole Wheat Flour

A few additional substitutions you can try include substituting all purpose flour for white whole wheat flour. You can substitute the entire flour measurement or even just try half, if you’d like to ease yourself in. White whole wheat flour is lighter than regular whole wheat flour and has a taste that is comparable to all purpose flour. It is a healthier choice because it is a whole grain and will give more fiber to your baked goods.

Applesauce

applesauce - Edited

Using applesauce as a substitution for fat is another great option. Cut the butter in your baking recipe by half and substitute the remainder with  unsweetened applesauce. This will cut the total amount of calories and saturated fat in your recipe, but still keep your baked good tasting delicious.

butter and applesauce

Reduce Sugar

The final general substitution you can make is reducing the sugar in the recipe by 25%. You can generally cut down the sugar by this amount without compromising or changing the taste of your dish. For example if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, you can try cutting it down to ¾ C instead.  

I hope these baking tips and substitutions have given you some new inspiration and healthier (but still tasty) alternatives to your holiday baking this year. Comment and like below and don’t forget to share what substitutions you try and which ones work best for you.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

Day-After-Thanksgiving Salad Recipe

If you still have some Thanksgiving left overs and are looking for a recipe that’s a little on the lighter side, this day-after-Thanksgiving recipe is perfect. You can use your holiday left overs to make a leaner meal post holiday splurge. The salad will utilize some of your favorite Thanksgiving flavors without overdoing it in the calorie department.

Day-After- Thanksgiving Salad Recipe

Servings: 2 meal-sized salads

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons leftover cranberry sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon water to thin (if necessary)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Salad:

  • 6 ounces (1 to 1 1/2 cups) leftover turkey, diced or shredded
  • 4 cups mixed greens (lettuce, baby kale, spinach)
  • 1 cup leftover prepared vegetables (sweet potatoesbrussels sproutsgreen beans or a combination)
  • 1 medium apple or firm-fleshed pear, diced
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Directions

  1. Add all dressing ingredients — except for water, salt and pepper — to a blender. Blend until smooth, adding water a little bit at a time, if necessary, to make smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.
  2. Toss turkey, greens, vegetables, fruit and pepitas together in a large bowl.
  3. To serve, divide into 2 servings and drizzle each salad with 2 tablespoons of dressing (you will have dressing left over). Enjoy!

Nutrition Information (per serving)

  • Calories: 450
  • Total fat: 22 g
  • Saturated fat: 4 g
  • Cholesterol: 60 mg
  • Sodium: 270 mg (does not include added salt)
  • Total carbohydrate: 30 g
  • Dietary fiber: 7 g
  • Sugars: 12 g
  • Protein: 37 g

Note: Nutrition information will vary depending on the mix of left over vegetables included in the salad.

Healthy holiday hacks: 5 tips to eat healthy this holiday season

The holidays are a joyous time of year filled with family gatherings, annual traditions, and let’s not forget the fabulous food!! I myself get excited every time the holidays roll around each year. 

Another less fortunate trend of the holiday season is found in expanding waistlines. The Calorie Control Council estimates the average holiday meal has 3,000 calories, and this is without even including the additional calories consumed in appetizers and drinks. On average Americans experience 1 to 2 pounds of uninvited weight gain during the holidays. That amount may seem pretty insignificant but when you have an extra pound or two creeping on each year and compounding year after year, before you know it you’re ten pounds heavier and can no longer fit into your favorite pair of jeans.

Not to worry, this week’s post will give you a few simple tips to keep you on track with your healthy eating during the holidays and still allow you to enjoy a little pie.

Holiday tip # 1 Don’t skip breakfast

I myself have been guilty of skipping breakfast on Thanksgiving in the past. I used to think that since I knew I would be eating a large feast later in the day I should skip my food intake in the morning. What can actually happen when we skip or miss meals though, is we end up overeating later on. Research even shows that people who eat breakfast actually eat fewer calories throughout the day. Therefore an easy way to reduce the amount of calories you eat at Thanksgiving is by making sure you include breakfast. It truly is important and can set the tone for your whole day. Eating breakfast has also been found to be a common denominator of people who have been able to successfully maintain their weight loss.

Holiday tip # 2 Downsize the carbs

Holiday feasts are usually full of carbs galore with everything from mashed potatoes, dressing, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, bread rolls, and macaroni and cheese to name a few. No wonder it’s easy to overdo it in the carbs department. Carbohydrates are not bad, it’s just when we eat them in excess that things become problematic. Aim to limit your portion of carbs and starches to just 1/4 of your plate. This will help you to get a more balanced meal and allow more room on your plate for non starchy vegetables. Try adding some of these tasty veggie dishes to your holiday spread:

Holiday tip # 3 Include activity in your family celebration

To help balance out some of the extra calories you’re bound to consume during the holiday season, make an effort to do something active the day of your family get together. You can try going for a morning hike, playing an afternoon game of football, or even have a dance battle on Nintendo Wii. The most important thing is to find a physical activity that you and your family can enjoy together.

Holiday tip # 4 Take leftovers to go

Remember that there are always ample leftovers at Thanksgiving. Keep in mind that you don’t have to have heaping portions, or even a bite of every dish the day of. Stick to modest portion sizes knowing that you can have more at a later meal or even later on in the week.

Holiday tip # 5 Be mindful of your portions

Portions have drastically increased over the years which has contributed to the obesity epidemic in the United States. Cut back on your portions to lower your overall calorie intake. Even a small sliver of pie can satisfy your craving for holiday sweets. Eat slowly and savor your bites so that you can enjoy the fall flavors of your meal. Choosing a smaller plate can also help you keep your portions in check.

Hopefully these 5 tips for healthy eating during the holidays help you to finish your holiday guilt free and thankful for finding the right balance in the most indulgent meal of the year.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

How to Make a Healthier Homemade Pumpkin Bread

One of my favorite parts of the fall is all things pumpkin. I love going to the pumpkin patch, carving pumpkins, roasting pumpkin seeds, and of course savoring all pumpkin flavored foods. Everything from pumpkin pie, to pumpkin ice cream, and pumpkin soup…..the list goes on and on.

One of my newfound fall favorites over the past couple years has been making homemade pumpkin bread. Pumpkins are rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and B vitamins.

I modified the following low fat pumpkin bread recipe by Skinnytaste to include half white whole wheat flour and I reduced the added sugar by 1/3. These changes allowed the bread to be 50% whole grain and cut down the extra calories from added sugar (don’t worry the bread still tastes sweet enough). See the recipe below.

Homemade Low Fat Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 C pumpkin puree, homemade or canned
  • 1 1/4 C flour (for a healthier spin, I recommend doing half white whole wheat flour and half white all purpose flour)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (to reduce the sugar content, I recommend using just 1/2 C)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2  tsp vanilla extract
  • baking spray

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with baking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, pumpkin spice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt with a wire whisk. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl mix oil, egg whites, pumpkin puree and vanilla; beat at medium speed until thick.
  • Scrape down sides of the bowl.
  • Add flour mixture, then blend at low speed until combined. Do not over mix.
  • Pour batter into loaf pan and bake on the center rack for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let the pan cool at least 20 minutes, bread should be room temperature before slicing.

I hope you enjoy this fall favorite of mine with a healthier approach. Let me know how you enjoy the recipe by liking and commenting below.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

National Watermelon Month

July is officially National Watermelon Month. To celebrate all things watermelon, this week I thought I’d post one of my favorite summer salads…..that yes, does include watermelon 🍉😋

This week enjoy a healthy, cool, and refreshing dish without having to heat up the whole kitchen. If you have diabetes, try pairing this salad with some grilled chicken or fish for the best glycemic control.

Arugula, Watermelon, and Feta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots (1 large)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups baby arugula, washed and spun dry
  • 1/8th seedless watermelon, rind removed, and cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 12 ounces feta cheese, 1/2 inch diced
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) whole fresh mint leaves, julienned

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the orange juice, lemon juice, shallots, honey, salt, and pepper. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly, to form an emulsion. Refrigerate the vinaigrette if you do not plan to use it within an hour.

2. Place the arugula, watermelon, feta, and mint in a large bowl. Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to coat the greens lightly and toss well. Taste for seasonings and serve immediately.

This salad is a great way to include some nutrient rich veggies and fruit with your meal which can help foster a healthy diet and can assist with weight loss and healthy weight management.

Let me know what you think of the recipe by commenting and liking below. Please let me know if they’re any other summer recipes you’re interested in trying.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

10 Healthy Graduation Party Food Ideas

Graduation season is upon us. Whether you are celebrating a graduation yourself or are hosting a graduation party for a loved one, this week’s post will feature healthy recipes for you to enjoy as a part of this year’s graduation festivities.

Graduations are often pivotal moments of accomplishment that are celebrated in the company of friends and family. If you’d like to stay on track with your healthy eating, you can bring along or serve some healthier dishes at the graduation parties you have to either attend or host this year. For some fresh ideas, check out some of the recipes below:

Middle Eastern Tahini and Yogurt Appetizer

Spinach Artichoke Strata

Edamame and Shrimp Bruschetta

Mini Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas

*Try this recipe with mini whole wheat or whole corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas for a healthier whole grain option*

Sheet Pan White Pizza with Salami and Peppers

Parm-Style Chicken Sliders

Watermelon Arugula and Feta Salad

Skinny Baked Mozzarella Sticks

Rainbow Fruit Skewers with Yogurt Dip

Skinny Cake Pops

I hope you find some delicious yet healthier recipes to try. Comment and share which recipes you enjoy the most.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

Homemade Blueberry Pancakes

If you’re looking for a healthier pancake recipe, this one is a win. It was a hit with my 2 year old who couldn’t stop asking for more.

This Skinnytaste recipe is simple to make and can allow you to satisfy that pancake craving without feeling like you just ate dessert for breakfast. The recipe uses white whole wheat flour, which gives you more fiber and fullness with your breakfast. The recipe itself calls for one hundred percent white whole wheat flour, but I used half all purpose flour and half white whole wheat flour. I feel like it gave the pancakes the perfect balance between a whole grain taste and your traditional buttermilk pancake taste (especially if your’e not accustomed to the taste of whole wheat pancakes).

Pre-packaged pancake mixes, like most processed foods, tend to have additives, preservatives, and extra sweeteners. Making your pancakes from scratch is a great way to avoid all these additives and go for something more natural.

The pancake recipe itself does not call for blueberries, but I love fresh blueberry pancakes, so I added them into mine. You can add fresh fruit into your pancake batter (once mixed), or just add the fresh fruit on top depending on your preference.

Whole Wheat Pancake Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur white whole wheat flour that I purchased at Target)
  • 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp sugar (I added a little honey instead of sugar)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups + 2 tbsp fat free milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add wet ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix well with a spoon until all the dry spots are gone; be careful not to over mix.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Lightly spray oil to coat and pour 1/4 cup of pancake batter. Once the pancake begins to bubble and the edges start to set, flip the pancake. Repeat with the remainder of the batter.

If you are diabetic, include some protein with breakfast (for example eggs, cottage cheese, or peanut butter) and use sugar free pancake syrup for the best blood sugar control.

Hope you enjoy this week’s healthy recipe. Let me know what you think by liking and commenting below.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

Tasty Snack Ideas

I’m hoping you enjoyed last week’s healthy snack recipe: BBQ Roasted Chickpeas. This week, I wanted to continue with the same theme and provide some additional healthy snack options for you to try.

My biggest tip for choosing healthy snacks is to think of snacks as mini meals and focus on choosing foods rich in nutrition.

The table below lists a table of different snack options. The snacks are broken down into three categories: fruit, veggies, and grains, depending on which food group you are wanting to emphasize.

Healthy Snack Ideas

Fruits

Veggies

Grains

String cheese and 1 small fruit

Tomatoes, bell peppers, and snap peas with hummus

Slice of whole grain toast with spread avocado

Apple and peanut butter

“Ants on a log”- celery with peanut butter and raisins

Mini quesadilla: 6 inch whole corn tortilla, low fat cheese, and salsa

Cottage cheese and fresh berries

Carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower with Ranch dressing

½ Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with spinach and tomato

Low fat yogurt with fruit and low fat granola

Whole wheat tortilla melt with low fat cheese and veggies

1 ounce of low fat cheese with whole grain crackers

Fruit smoothie made with frozen berries, low fat milk, and ice

1 Cup of low sodium vegetable or tomato soup with whole grain crackers

Homemade trail mix with nuts, dried fruit, whole grain pretzels, and low sugar dry cereal

½ Banana with peanut butter

Microwave a small baked potato and top with low fat cheese and salsa

1/2 Peanut butter or nut butter sandwich

 

Fresh fruit kebabs

Mini “pizza”: ½ Whole wheat English muffin topped  marinara sauce, low fat cheese, and veggies

1 Cup of low fat popcorn sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese

½ Whole wheat bagel with low fat cream cheese and strawberry slices

Mini whole wheat pita bread spread with hummus and topped with your choice of vegetables

Pita chips and hummus

If you’re like me and have a sweet tooth every once and a while, below are a couple of healthier “sweet treats” you can try.

  • Rocky road: Break up a graham cracker and add to low fat chocolate pudding, top with a few mini marshmallows
  • Fill a waffle cone with cut up fruit and low fat vanilla yogurt

I hope I’ve given you a few new healthy snacks to try over the upcoming weekend. Let me know which healthy snacks you enjoy the most by commenting and liking below.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

Healthy Snack Recipe: BBQ Roasted Chickpeas

What comes to mind when you think of the word snack? Is it a bag of flaming hot Cheetos? Or a pack of Oreos? Or fresh veggies with hummus dip? Snacks are not by themselves a bad or unhealthy thing to indulge in, but like with your daily meals, the types of food you’re choosing to eat matter.

Snacks have for years had a notoriously bad reputation because they are more commonly associated with unhealthy foods. This week I’d like to share an easy, healthy snack that you can prepare and enjoy guilt free.

Chickpeas are featured in this week’s recipe. They are a good plant based source of protein and are also rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. In addition, chickpeas have been found in some emerging research to play a beneficial role in weight management and glucose and insulin regulation. As you can see, there are many health related reasons to give this week’s recipe a try.

BBQ Roasted Chickpeas

BBQ Roasted ChickpeasIngredients

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and lay out on a baking tray. I used parchment paper to save time on cleaning up.
  2. Mix in the smoked paprika, onion powder, cayenne pepper and salt directly on the tray.

3. Put in the oven at 400°F for about 30-35 mins (I roasted mine for 30 minutes).

4. Remove from the oven when they are golden.

5. If you want them crispy they will need closer to 35 mins, but keep a close eye on them because they can go from very crispy to burnt in a matter of minutes.

This recipe is so simple taking only 1-2 minutes to prepare and 30-35 minutes to bake. Let me know how you like the BBQ roasted chickpeas by commenting and liking below. I hope this week’s post gives you a new healthy snack that you love.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

Valentine’s Day Recipe Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

Valentine’s Day is just a few days away and is a great time to surprise the ones you love (or even just yourself) with a special treat. If you’re looking for a healthier alternative than your typical cookies, cupcakes, or candy……this week’s post has just what you’re looking for.

This tasty recipe from Skinnytaste has a few healthy components. First off, you’re actually including a veggie in your muffin, but don’t worry with these muffins it won’t even taste like you’re eating vegetables. The zucchini has a very neutral flavor and blends in very nicely with the rest of the muffin. My toddler helped me eat these zucchini chocolate chip muffins, and she couldn’t stop asking me for more bites. Needless to say these zucchini muffins are even kid friendly 😉

Another perk of this recipe is that it is partly whole grain because it uses white whole wheat flour. It is also lower in fat than your typical muffin recipe using applesauce in substitution for some of the butter. This helps cut down on fat and makes the muffins more moist. The final perk of this recipe is that is has a lot less sugar than most store bought muffins. Check out the recipe below.

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake time: 16 to 18 minutes

Ingredients:

  • cooking spray
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (not packed)
  • 1-1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded zucchini (not packed)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin liners and spray with oil.Muffin Liners
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Mix well.
  3. Add chocolate chips and gently mix to combine.Dry Ingredients
  4. In a medium bowl, mix egg, vanilla, melted butter, apple sauce and zucchini. Wet Ingredients
  5. Add to the flour mixture and stir until just blended.Mixed Ingredients
  6. Spoon the batter into lined muffin tins about 3/4 filled.Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins Oven Ready
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 16 to 18 minutes. Let cool before eating.Valentine's Day - Edited

Comment and like below, and be sure to let me know how you enjoy this recipe. Skinnytaste recipes are some of my favorite because they taste great but have a healthier spin to them. Until next week.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess