No Bake Festive Cheesecake Cups

These festive cheesecake cups were so easy and fun to put together (with a little patience and help from my big guy). There’s nothing better than having a pre-portioned, easy-to-eat, no bake, HEALTHY (ish) treat to satisfy your sweet tooth at a summer cookout. I’ve been to parties where the desserts are bountiful and it’s hard to resist them. Instead of pondering over what will be your best option, BRING the best option.

Every fourth of July we go to my dads cape house in Sandwich. It’s beautiful. We can see fireworks lit up all along the shore and sometimes straight across the ocean at P-town. My dad always brings fireworks so we have our own personal show, as well as our neighbors on the beach surrounding us. It’s usually a big party every year. I’m happy my kids are able to experience this event with our family.

Who doesn’t love a festive treat? Fresh blue and red berries with sprinkles are sure to please everyone. Now even though I’m not sponsored by Annie’s bunny grahams (but Heyyyy I’d love to be ūüôā ) I happen to have these treats littered around my pantry thanks to Amazon. You can use any graham crackers or vanilla wafer cookies go great too. The greek cream cheese is a new favorite of mine because it’s made with greek yogurt, so it’s half the fat with more protein versus regular cream cheese and tastes just as good.

After the burgers, hot dogs and pasta salads have been eaten, it’s nice to have something sweet before we relax with the sunset and wait for the fireworks. These festive cheesecake dessert cups are perfect for however you celebrate on the 4th of July. You can bring them already portioned out in cups so all you need is a spoon. My stepmom got me these adorable shot glasses that come with spoons, but if your husband happened to be at a bachelor party recently, you may have some plastic jello shot cups laying around. Those work just as well (and what I’ll be bringing to the beach). You can find them at most party stores (right babe?).

No Bake Cheesecake Cups

Ingredients

  • 2 6oz plain greek yogurt cups
  • 1/2 cup greek cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup crushed bunny grahams
  • sliced strawberries & blueberries

Instructions

  1. Using a mixer, beat cream cheese and greek yogurt until smooth.
  2. Add in vanilla and sugar, mix well.
  3. Put crushed bunny grahams on bottom of cup.
  4. Top with cheesecake filling.
  5. Add berries. Top berries with sprinkles if desired.
  6. Repeat until cup is full.
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Healthy Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

The summer is fast approaching and fresh zucchini and blueberry bushes are starting to bloom at the local farms. My garden isn’t really big enough for zucchini so I tend to get them from friends or farm stands. There are so many meals and baked goods to make with zucchini. I love that it’s mild in flavor with low calories and can be used as a substitute for pasta on occasion. Blueberries are another fruit that’s showing up at our farm stands as well and who can’t resist some fresh big blueberries? My little guy calls them “bluebears” and it’s simply adorable. ¬†

When I was younger my nana used to bring us blueberry picking every year. She made sure we got the biggest ones and our buckets were full to the brim. Then we’d go back to her cute house in the woods and eat a big bowl of blueberries, milk and sugar. Yup- it was the best. I thankfully got to bring my youngest son blueberry picking with her one summer. Now that she’s passed away, I still make it a point to bring the kids blueberry picking to remember her as well as show them where their food comes from.

Once the blueberry bushes are ready you can bet we’ll be out there picking and making these muffins again! I usually have all of the ingredients on hand so they’re easy to whip up when we’re needing some comfort foods. Maybe this year I’ll let them have her infamous blueberry, milk and sugar treat.

I made these muffins healthier by using a combination of whole wheat and all purpose flour. It takes some density out of the muffins and still makes them taste like they come from a bakery. I don’t like using white sugar so I use coconut sugar and maple syrup to sweeten them up. The banana and coconut oil is a substitute for oil in traditional muffin recipes. Zucchini adds a bit of vitamins and minerals to sneak in there as well. Next time you go blueberry picking, save some for this recipe!

Healthy Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (water removed)
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil melted
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix egg, coconut oil, coconut sugar, maple syrup and vanilla extract in small bowl.
  3. Grate zucchini and squeeze out liquid.
  4. Add mashed banana and zucchini to wet ingredients above.
  5. In separate bowl mix flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  6. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry and mix.
  7. Add in blueberries and combine.
  8. Line muffin tin with liners or spray with coconut oil. Spoon mix into cups and bake for 15 minutes.
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Chocolate Covered Pretzel PB Bars

OK I’ve made these pretzel peanut butter bars a few times and have finally perfected them! I’ve done them with or without the chocolate drizzle and both are good but let’s be honest- chocolate wins!

I start by melting the coconut oil, honey and peanut butter. The white chocolate peanut butter from Peanut Butter & Co is amazing so I loved using it for this recipe. I always have at least 2 types of their peanut butter in my cabinets- no shame. Their flavored peanut butters are simply the best and don’t have a bunch of gross ingredients in them.

While that melts on low, I combine the dry mix of oats, flax seeds and crushed pretzels. I just crush the pretzels with my hand so you can still taste them in the bar. Gives it a nice crunch.

Then combine the peanut butter mix into the dry mix and stir it gently until combined. You want it all to be sticking together. If it’s not then add a little more peanut butter.

Press is into an 8×8 baking dish on top of parchment paper. Drizzle that melted chocolate over the bars and pop them in the freezer for about 30 minutes to harden. Check out that chocolate!!

I chop the bars up into 8 total bars. I kept some in the fridge and the rest in the freezer. They unfreeze quickly and still taste great. I’ve had a few taste testers with these (not just the kiddies) and they’ve all¬†given great reviews! Let me know how you like them!

Chocolate Covered Pretzel PB Bars

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups oatmeal
  • 2 tblsp flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup crushed pretzels
  • 1/4 cup melted chocolate

Instructions

  1. Melt the honey, coconut oil and peanut butter over low heat on stove.
  2. Mix oatmeal, flax seeds and pretzels in large bowl.
  3. Combine the melted peanut butter mix into the oat mix.
  4. Press mixture into an 8x8 dish on top of parchment paper.
  5. Melt chocolate in microwave or on stove and drizzle over bars.
  6. Put in freezer for 30 minutes.
  7. Take out of dish and chop into bars. Store in fridge or freezer.
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How to Efficiently Meal Prep in 6 Steps

Meal prep can really help you when it comes to being successful with living a healthy life. It can be challenging coming home after a busy day at work, having a fun day with kids or when life just gets busy to make dinner. Coming up with ideas or making sure you have the ingredients to create a healthy meal can be tough, especially when it’s time to eat. Getting food on the go isn’t always the healthiest option either. Meal prep doesn’t have to happen on Sunday or Monday- it can happen any day of the week that’s convenient for you. Most people like to start Sunday or Monday because it sets their week up for success. However, you have to do what works for you. It also doesn’t have to be 2-3 hours long. Even if you just cut up some extra fruit, cook extra veggies, or make enough leftovers from dinner- I would consider that a success in meal prep. Anything you can do to make meals quicker. These are my 5 steps to making meal prep easier.

1.Plan- Have a list of things you want to make for the week. I suggest looking at things you and your family eat a lot of. Also, picking a breakfast, a lunch, and a dinner to make. Or chose the meal that you have the most trouble with. Make 3 dinners if you often have a protein shake and eat out for lunch. Make lunches if you plan to make a crockpot dinner. Whatever meals you choose to eat, figure out what you need to start first. If you’re baking sweet potatoes- do those first and then starting boiling eggs. Chop veggies while saut√©ing ground turkey. Use your time efficiently and multi-task without getting overwhelmed. Don’t get distracted and set timers where needed!

2.Don’t go overboard- Keep things as simple as possible. Now is not the time to try out the newest Rachel Ray recipe you found on food network. Make the things you know how to make so you can easily/quickly put them together. You’ll also be multi-tasking, so even more reason to know what you’re doing. I’d suggest keeping your list of things to make to a few things and adding to it if you have more time at the end.

3. Cook Protein- Having protein ready to add to salads or a dinner can be very helpful when looking to create a healthy meal. I like to do either a taco flavored ground turkey, salsa chicken, meatballs, bbq chicken, tuna, chickpeas, etc. Cooking protein ahead of time can really save you when you’re in a pinch. Breakfast protein options also make for a good grab and go meal. Protein waffles, hard boiled eggs, overnight oatmeal or a frittata are all convenient to take in the morning.

Roasted Chickpeas, tuna, kodiak cake waffles, ground turkey

4. Mix it up- Don’t prep the same thing every week. Everyone will get bored. Changing the proteins for dinner and snack options are ways I add variety to the week. I also am not a fan of making 5 of the same salads so I’ll switch up the veggies I put into them. If you don’t mind eating the same thing- by all means do it. Many people have success with this. If you make the same salad then think about switching the protein you top it with.

Tossed Salad with greens, Spinach salad with chickpeas

5. Prep healthy snacks- This is mostly for kids but everyone can benefit from this. If your kid doesn’t ask for snacks all day long then I envy you. I’m exhausted by the amount of snacks I have. But buying bulk and prepping portions makes lunches easier to put together. I don’t love the plastic bag situation but it really makes it convenient and easy. Having snacks in the fridge (typically cut up veggies) and in the pantry (popcorn, pretzels, trail mix, protein bars) are all essential to have for options.

popcorn, peppers, cucumber/tomatoes, pretzels

6. Cook in bulk- This goes for things like protein, vegetables and whole grains. Grilling a few pieces of chicken at once, making turkey burgers and putting together a few cans of tuna in a bowl are ways to save time. Roasting or steaming vegetables make it easy to complete a meal. Boiling rice, quinoa or

I hope these tips help you become more efficient in food prepping. What are some strategies you use? I’d love to hear new tips!

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5 Tips to Getting Your Kids to Eat Healthy

Since having my first son 5 years ago I’ve paid more attention to kids food, specifically what’s marketed out there. At the grocery store I’ll often see things and think “oh Travis loves dinosaurs- I should get this ____ for him”. This is the trap marketing has pulled many parents into. Kids food is fun, easy, portable, convenient, quick, cute- you name it. This can be fine on occasion, trust me I’m all for convenience too. But we need to be more aware of what we’re feeding our kids. To help create healthy strategies for them now and in their future. Here are my top 5 tips for getting my kids to eat healthy. I clearly don’t have older kids so I can’t say my advice for that population (yet). You may not love them all but this is what’s worked for me since becoming a mom.¬†1. Involve them-¬†If you’ve been following me for awhile you’ll see that my kids are involved with my cooking and see me in the kitchen a lot. Sometimes I have to take them to the grocery store (torturous) so I try to get them involved in what we’ll be buying. Talk to your kids about healthy food and what it does for our bodies. Let them know what has fat, protein and why we need veggies. Ask them if their meals have these components in them. Keep healthy food in the house for them to choose from.

2. Negotiate-¬†C’mon- we’ve all been here! Kids do not like to be told what to do. It’s better to work out an agreement with them. My son will usually ask me how many more bites he needs to have until he’s done with dinner.¬†Although it can be annoying to count 5 more bites with him, I know sometimes he needs that end in site. I try not to reward him with dessert every night, but when I have a special dessert planned anyway I will let them know about it. If they don’t finish what I expect, then no dessert. We want our kids to be healthy so sometimes it takes negotiation to get them eating these healthy foods- and that’s ok! This can be seen as confusing with my next tip but bear with me-

3. No clean plate club-¬†I firmly believe we shouldn’t be telling kids they need to finish the dinner on their plates. Kids are very good at listening to their hunger cues. We shouldn’t be neglecting that built in awareness they have. Honoring their hunger is something that will serve them well into their adulthood. If our kids are eating a good portion of their dinner- we need to be satisfied with that. If however they are looking for food within 20-30 minutes post meal, then we know they’re either not eating enough or getting the nutrients they needs (protein, fats, carbs).

I don’t like to throw food away, so I will allow the food to stay on the plate for about 30 minutes after him eating it. If he’s still hungry or asks for something else- he has food there. Forcing our kids to eat is only going to end in a fight.

4. Give them what you eat- The funny thing is, most kids can’t buy or make their own food. I hate to be mean but if your kid “only eats mac and cheese” or “only likes chicken nuggets” it’s because that might be all you’re feeding them. I cringe at the idea of “kid” foods. There is nothing healthy about the fried, fatty, artificial, non-nutritious food that’s targeted towards our kids. They might not love what you make- but they kinda have no other choice. I learned this from Kate Gosselin on Jon & Kate Plus 8 (yes I used to watch her show- don’t judge me) but kids will eat what you feed them eventually- they won’t starve. Keep it simple at first. Plain, not many spices and separated.

5. No depriving-¬†Having foods off limits can set your kids future up for turmoil. If they have certain foods that are “bad” for them then they might crave them or indulge when they have the chance. Reinforce why they need to eat healthy and what happens if they don’t. If they happen to indulge ask them how they feel- stuffed, belly ache, tired? Remind them of that feeling. Let them choose how much they will eat of the treat (within reason) and remind them to not eat until stuffed, but satisfied.

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All Things Almond

I’ve been wanting to make almond milk for awhile now so I finally went for it. That and the fact that I realized I didn’t have milk for my morning coffee. So I knew something needed to be done to avert a crisis. Everyone talks about how easy it is and well- it is easy. I would recommend something good to strain the milk with though because even the cheese cloth I got still leaves a few residues. I don’t mind the added texture though.

Travis saw me soaking the almonds the night before and after telling him how it turns into milk, he wanted to be sure to help when it came time to in the morning. He liked pushing the button for the blender and watching the almonds turn into a white milk. 

He didn’t drink it which is fine with me because I used it for my coffee and with some other baking I did. How cute are these milk bottles? I saved them a few years ago after a camping trip we took up Maine. The farm had lots of farmish stuff for sale including their homemade strawberry and blueberry milk. I knew the bottles would come in handy one day.

After making my homemade almond milk I had a lot of this leftover pulp. I hated to see it go to waste so I made them into energy bites. My kids love dried fruit so I like adding some fat and carbs to help keep them full a little bit more. They’re also easy to take in the car or for school lunches.

Homemade Almond Milk & Energy Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • optional: 2-4 pitted dates for sweetness
  • For the Energy Bites
  • 1 cup almond pulp
  • 1 cup oats
  • 3/4 cup teddies smooth peanut butter
  • 1tblsp flax seed
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup dried mixed berries (cranberries, blueberries, cherries)

Instructions

  1. Soak almonds in 2 cups water overnight on counter.
  2. Rinse almonds, put in blender with 4 cups fresh filtered water.
  3. Add vanilla, cinnamon and dates to blender.
  4. Strain over cheese cloth into a bowl/mason jar. I recommend having a strainer underneath the cheese cloth as well to catch any extra residue.
  5. Store in refrigerator.
  6. For the Energy Bites
  7. Simply mix all ingredients together and form small balls. Store in refrigerator.
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I made everything in the morning without much effort. It’s always nice to have some homemade milk once in awhile and an easy, healthy snack for me and the kids. What are some of your favorite things to make with almonds? Let me know!

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Zucchini Brownie Bread

I love/need/hate having some baked chocolate goods in the house. Love because cmon- it’s chocolate. Need because I crave a little treat sometimes and like it to be healthy if I can. Hate because I’ll want to eat the whole thing.

Making breads and muffins is a favorite of mine. I like the kids to have some baked goods in the morning if I’m not quite ready to make a big breakfast or just want something simple. I called this a brownie bread because it was chocolatey like a brownie but kind of like a bread because it wasn’t as dense/fudgey. You can never tell there’s zucchini in baking because it’s masked by so much other good stuff, but it makes you feel better knowing there’s at least a liiittle bit of healthy stuff in it. Coconut palm sugar has a low glycemic index meaning it doesn’t raise blood sugar quickly.

Trav helping mix the dry ingredients

I like (sometimes) having the kids help me with baking because getting them involved makes them excited to eat what we make. Travis has loved helping me pour ingredients in and mix them. He also gets stuff out of the fridge that I need which can be helpful (when he doesn’t drop eggs on the floor).

Evan helping mix the wet ingredients

Evan helped himself up to the counter (thanks to learning from his brother) and was really gentle with mixing. Look at his little face- he loved it and really was better than I thought he’d be.

I honestly like to get inspiration from a few different recipes when I bake. There’s always a few things I want to include and I can never find the recipe that has all of them, so I tend to mix and match. I’ve been experimenting like this for awhile so I’ve gotten better at it but also just don’t stress too much if it doesn’t come out perfect. I like learning and using whatever I have on hand.

Zucchini Brownie Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup packed zucchini (water removed)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil melted
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together (whole wheat flour-cocoa powder) in separate bowl.
  2. Grate zucchini over a paper towel in a bowl. Tightly squeeze water out of zucchini with towel and add to measuring cup until it's full.
  3. Beat egg and add remaining wet ingredients together except for chocolate chips.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spray loaf pan with oil and bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes. Top with additional chocolate chips before baking.
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Easy Enchilada Casserole Bake

Making dinner can be a drag sometimes, I get it. That’s why I try to keep dinners as basic as possible. If there’s an opportunity to make a big meal to use for leftovers- I definitely take advantage. Having something in the fridge I can quickly reheat for either lunch or dinner the next day makes my life much easier. I like to stretch my meals when I can so adding stuff like beans, rice, quinoa and veggies can help bulk up a dinner and leave you with leftovers.

Mexican food is a big staple in my house. Enter: The Enchilada Casserole Bake. I make some form of a taco/enchilada dinner at least once a week.¬†I love that you can make it with either chicken, beef or turkey and they all taste good. The seasoning combination is pretty basic after you’ve done it a few times. I’ve adapted the taco seasoning recipe below from Danielle Walker’s book Meals Made Simple. I barely measure anymore but it’s something like this:

Taco Seasoning Ingredients

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

I choose a protein then add my fillers that I have/am in the mood for. This time I used black beans, diced tomatoes and corn. Sometimes I add quinoa or brown rice for a more burrito style. I made 12 enchiladas which would be enough for 2 meals (1 in the freezer), but since my sister-in-law just had a new baby (hi Hudson!) I’m bringing her this meal when we go to visit. Who wouldn’t like an enchilada after having a baby?

Easy Enchilada Bake

Ingredients

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1/4 onion diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 12 tortilla wraps
  • 1 cup mixed mexican cheese
  • taco seasoning
  • 1 tblsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. So I start by dicing an onion with my ground beef until it’s cooked. Then I add in a can of diced tomatoes and 1/4 can of tomato sauce. I add my taco seasoning mixture, frozen corn and black beans and let it simmer for 10 minutes- this really helps the flavors blend together.
  2. After that I spread a little tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish and start loading up the tortilla wraps. I put some mixture in it with a sprinkle of Mexican cheese then roll them up. Place them seam side down and push them close together.
  3. You can make an enchilada sauce using the spices above and some extra tomato sauce. Top enchiladas with that sauce and a sprinkle of Mexican cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
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Give this recipe a try and be sure to make enough for leftovers! #fueledupfam

Travs plated dinner
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