Brownie in a Mug with Coconut Whipped Cream
This month, I wanted to share my recipe for a super quick, easy, and healthy microwaveable brownie recipe. If you’re looking for a quick and easy dessert or snack during the holiday season, I would highly recommend you give this a try. It would also be a wonderful dessert that you could make with the entire family. The light and fluffy coconut whipped cream is the perfect complement to the fudgy, decadent brownie. The best part of the recipe is that it requires no butter, without compromising taste or texture. My dad, who is not usually a fan of “healthy” sweets, is a big fan of this recipe. Hope you enjoy!
Total time: 10 minutes
Ingredients ingredients to make 1 mug brownie:
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp ground oats or oat flour (the easiest way to make this is to take rolled or instant oats and blend them in a blender or food processor until it has the consistency of flour)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- 4 tbsp milk or your choice of plant-based milk
- 1 tbsp dark chocolate chips
Ingredients for the coconut whipped cream: (I like to make a big batch of this to store in my fridge, so that I don’t have to make this every time I make a brownie. These ingredients would serve 6).
- 1 cup of coconut cream (This usually comes in a can. A trick I like to use is to refrigerate the can for a couple hours so that the solids and liquids can separate. You will need the solid part for this recipe)
- 3 tbsp dark chocolate chips (feel free to omit if you prefer)
- ½ cup unsweetened greek yogurt
- ¼ cup maple syrup or honey
Directions for the brownie:
- Mix the ground oats and the cocoa powder in a microwaveable mug.
- Add the milk, syrup or honey, and chocolate chips and mix until smooth.
- Microwave: Microwave time may vary depending on your specific microwave, but I recommend ~1 minute for a fudgier texture, and ~1 minute 30 seconds for a fluffier, cakier texture.
Directions for the chocolate coconut whipped cream:
- Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, being careful not to burn them. (Omit if you prefer)
- Remove the coconut cream solids from the can and place into a medium sized mixing bowl.
- Whip with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add in the syrup or honey, greek yogurt, and melted chocolate, and continue whipping until it becomes similar to whipped cream consistency.
- Top your finished brownie with a couple scoops of the coconut whipped cream and enjoy!
Healthy and Easy Thanksgiving Side
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I wanted to share one of my family’s favorite Thanksgiving sides. It is quick and easy, and the whole family can help make it. If anyone has any special recipe requests with the holidays around the corner, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be more than happy to help provide some inspiration/ideas! Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!
Easy Cinnamon Baked Apples
With apple season upon us, I wanted to share an easy recipe that everyone can try. This is one of my family’s favorite side dishes to enjoy in the fall. It also makes for a great dessert, without any added sugars. Enjoy!
Ingredients (Yields 4 servings):
5 medium apples (I prefer gala for its natural sweetness, but any variety works)
2 tbs coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
Optional: 3/4 cup raw pecans or walnuts (a good source of unsaturated fats!)
1. Peel and dice the apples.
2. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave and mix it with the cinnamon.
4. Place the apples into a baking dish and pour the oil/cinammon mixture over the apples, making sure each piece is coated evenly. Toss in the pecans and walnuts.
5. Bake for ~25 minutes or until the apples are soft.
6. Enjoy! Try topping with some greek yogurt if having it for dessert.
Refreshing Summer Smoothie
Honey Iced TeaWith the seasons starting to change, causing many people to get sick, I wanted to share a healthy iced tea recipe that is also immune boosting. I personally prefer hot teas unsweetened, but I love a sweetened iced tea. The difficult part about making iced tea is figuring out how to add sweetness without compromising the benefits of the tea by adding too many “added sugars,” or bad sugars. In this recipe I use honey, a natural sweetener, which has antioxidant and immune-boosting properties, and can help to lower blood cholesterol levels. Ingredients (Serves 8):
- 5 green tea bags of your choice, strings and tags removed (I prefer Lipton)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 4 cups boiling water
- 4 cups ice water
- 1/8 tsp baking soda (this helps to cut the bitterness of the tea, which will reduce the amount of sweetener needed)
My New Years ResolutionsThis year I wanted to come up with just a few achievable resolutions that I could see myself maintaining in the long run. Specifically, I wanted to have more control over the times when I was eating, and what I was putting into my body. I hope this gives you some inspiration for your own New Years resolutions! Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 1. Implement Intermittent Fasting Cycles: Our bodies do not constantly need food, and it is actually beneficial to let our digestive systems rest for longer periods of time. Intermittent fasting has been incredibly helpful in my weight maintenance, and I plan to continue this into the new year as a way of having more control over the times when I’m eating. The cycle that I am currently following consists of a 12 hour fast during the first night of the cycle, a 14 hour fast the next night, and a 16 hour fast for the last night. As an example, the first night I might stop eating at 8pm, and the next morning I could have breakfast anytime after 8am. That night, if I stopped eating at 10pm, I would wait until noon the next day to have breakfast/lunch. I find it is much easier for me to fast at night as opposed to during the day, since I am asleep anyways. 2. Limit myself to one “cheat” food per day: Instead of having one cheat day per week, I am going to try this method of allowing myself one cheat food per day, so that I do not find myself having the urge to binge every week. Everything in moderation!
- 6 large eggs (yolk only)
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 3 cups non-fat milk or plant-based milk of your choice
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Favorite Fall Beverages
Ingredients (Serves 4):
- 4 cups boiling water
- 6 bags chamomile tea
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 4 slices lemon
- 3 tsp honey
- 1 tsp rosemary (or 2 sprigs)
Ingredients (Serves 1):
- 1 cup unsweetened nut or soy milk
- 3 tbs pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp maple syrup or honey
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 shot espresso or concentrated instant coffee
Apple-Themed Recipes to Try This FallFall is one of my favorite times of the year because apples come into season, as well as everything apple-themed. Here are some of my favorite apple recipes definitely worth trying out! – Baked Apples with Cinnamon:
This is great as a dessert or breakfast- it’s tangy-but-sweet and very filling. Try this with fuji apples which have higher sugar content, so you won’t even have to add sugar.
Yields 4 servings.
- 4 apples
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 dash nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350F. Peel and cut the apples each into 8 slices and gently mix all ingredients together. Place in a casserole dish, cover with tin foil, and bake for 45 minutes, flipping halfway.– Steamed Apples with Natural Crystallized Sugar:
This works nearly every time in curing colds, and is simple and easy to make.
Yields 2 servings:
- 2 apples
- 2 tablespoons of natural crystallized sugar (this can be found at specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods)
- Optional dash of cinnamon
If you don’t have a vegetable steamer, simply fill a medium pot an inch deep with water, place a mug upside down in the center of the pot and place a plate on top of that. Place on the stove and wait for the water to reach a boil. Meanwhile, prepare the apples by coring them and cutting off the top so that they look like small cups. Place 1 tablespoon of the sugar inside each apple and place the tops back on. Place each in a small bowl and place on top of the plate in the pot. Set the timer for 20 minutes, and turn the heat down to medium. Enjoy while warm.– Apple Sauce Muffins:
I love making a big batch of these and freezing them, so when I’m hungry after work or school I can just take one out and microwave it for a quick and healthy snack.
Yields 2 dozen muffins.
- ½ cup coconut oil
- ½ cup honey
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups applesauce
- 4 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp allspice
- ½ tsp dried clove
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 325F. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry. Fold in the nuts. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown.
Four Foods to Eat for a Good Night’s Sleep
3. Cottage cheese: This contains high levels of tryptophan, which has been shown to increase the body’s serotonin levels. Try this for desert with some raspberries or strawberries.4. Fruit: Some other effective bedtime snacks include kiwis, cherries, plums, and berries. Make a fruit salad or simply add some to your bedtime tea for a fruity flavor.
Some of my New Favorite Healthy SnacksHaving grown bored of my usual almonds, apples, and bananas that I normally eat for a snack, I decided to test out some new snacks that have recently caught my eye at the grocery store. I’ve found some new favorites and I wanted to share them with you, in hopes that they would help give you a couple more snacking ideas! Enjoy! Beet Chips: To be honest, I was suspicious of how these would taste at first, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that they taste slightly sweet, kind of like apple chips, with no weird aftertaste at all. A good option if you want to incorporate some more fiber into your diet! (I like the Bare brand, which is found at most grocery stores including Target and Walmart.) Kale Chips: These are extremely crispy, low in calorie, packed full of vitamins K, C, and A, Calcium, Potassium, and have anti-inflammatory benefits. A must-try for sure! (Most grocery stores carry multiple flavors of these chips- my favorite is sea salt.) Roasted seaweed snacks: This might not be for everyone, but definitely worth trying in my opinion. It is light, crispy, and doesn’t have any fishy aftertaste. (Found at most grocery stores!) Dried Apricots: I’m honestly not sure how I overlooked these for all of my life- these are now hands down my favorite dried fruit. They’re chewy, refreshing, and will definitely satisfy any sweet tooth. Opt for brands with no added sugars to reduce calorie and carbohydrate intake. (Trader joe’s carries amazing dried Turkish apricots.) Dried Mangos: These are also amazingly chewy and sweet. I prefer the brands without added sugars because mangoes have enough natural sweetness on their own. (Trader joe’s also carries amazing “Just Mango Slices” with no additives.)
Spring Garden Vegetable SoupEvery time Spring comes around, I love to make vegetable soups using fresh local ingredients. Here is one of my favorite recipes. Enjoy! Yields 6 servings. Ingredients:
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 tbs olive oil
- ½ large onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, diced or sliced thinly
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 tbs fresh thyme leaves, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
- 1 tsp sage leaves, chopped (or ½ tsp dried)
- 32 oz chicken, vegetable, or bone broth (I like the Bonafide brand bone broth, found in the frozen section at most grocery stores)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper. Cook ~5 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
- Add the broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Add the chickpeas and spinach leaves and cook just until the spinach is wilted (~3 minutes).
- Serve and enjoy.
Valentine’s Day Gift Idea: Guilt-Free Dark Chocolate Orange TrufflesWith Valentine’s Day coming up, I wanted to share one of my favorite truffle recipes, which would make a perfect gift for your loved one, or simply as a dessert to enjoy all to yourself (which is arguably even better!). These truffles are rich, decadent, and made of only 4 ingredients. Enjoy! 🙂 Recipe (adapted from Amy’s Healthy Baking): Ingredients (Makes 16 truffles): 1 cup raw cocao powder 1/2 cup raw cocao powder (set aside for dusting) 1.5 tsp orange zest 1/4 cup orange juice 3 tbsp maple syrup Optional: 1 handful cocao nibs or dark chocolate chips Steps:
- Stir together the cocao powder and orange zest in a medium bowl.
- Make a well in the center, pour in the orange juice and maple syrup, and stir well until smooth.
- Stir in the optional cocao nibs or dark chocolate chips.
- Cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove the chocolate mixture from the refrigerator and roll into 16 small balls.
- Use a sifter to sift a light dusting of cocao powder over each truffle to ensure they do not stick.
- Store in an air-tight container for up to 1 week. Alternatively, for gifting, place each truffle in a mini cupcake liner and store in a gift box.
4 Simple and Achievable New Years Resolutions:With the New Year upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to share some New Years resolutions that I am making for myself, with the goal of improving my overall health and well-being. I hope that they will be useful to you all. Enjoy! 1. Go for a morning walk or jog immediately after waking up. I’ve begun adopting this habit this winter, and it has been making a noticeable impact on my mood and energy levels for the rest of the day. Even if this is not possible for you to accomplish every day, try doing this on the weekends. I guarantee you will also feel the effects! 2. Drink a glass of warm water after waking up. I’ve actually been practicing this habit for a couple years now, and I have to admit it has made a substantial difference in my digestion and the amount of time it takes me to wake up in the morning. Swallowing helps initiate GI tract contraction, or peristalsis, which improves gut motility and speeds up digestion of any food you consume afterwards. Warm, as opposed to cold, water helps to increase the efficiency of absorption by your intestinal cells. 3. Replace ordinary grains with lower carbohydrate alternatives. I’ve recently discovered the brand Banza, which makes amazing pastas out of chickpeas – in my opinion, they have the perfect al dente texture, and I only needed to prepare half as much of this pasta compared to normal pastas to keep me full till the next meal. I’ve also found that a great substitution for ordinary sandwich bread (which can get dull sometimes) is mini yellow corn tortillas. I love using these for lettuce, avocado, and tomato wraps. 4. Incorporate kefir, kim-chi, and other probiotic-rich foods into your diet. For all of my life I have had digestive issues, causing frequent bloating and discomfort. This past semester, I learned in my Nutrition and Disease class that these symptoms can be caused by antibiotics. Our digestive tracts are home to an array of bacteria, called the gut microbiome, that are essential to proper digestion of our food, and when they become disrupted the result is indigestion. I decided that I would need to eat more foods that are high in probiotics. I’ve been enjoying Kefir, which is similar to yogurt but higher in protein and beneficial bacteria, and kim-chi, which is the Korean version of sauerkraut. Both are easy to incorporate into the diet: I usually have kefir with some granola or in place of my daily glass of milk, and I like to sprinkle some kim-chi on my salads or wraps. With the holidays just around the corner, I wanted to share one of my favorite hearty, and most importantly, secretly healthy, cookie recipes. These are definitely worth giving a try for any upcoming holiday parties or simply to share with your family. Enjoy! Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies *adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie’s recipe These are definitely high up on my list of the most addicting cookies, haha. Be prepared to make more than one batch! Recipe makes a dozen cookies. Ingredients:
- 1/3 cup of oat flour (Blend rolled oats using a blender or food processor until fine)
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar (Much healthier alternative to granulated sugar)
- 3 tbs vegan cream cheese (I like the brand Tofutti, which can be found at Walmart)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbs melted coconut oil (Use triple filtered coconut oil for less coconut flavor)
- Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl, and all wet ingredients in another.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until it forms into a ball.
- Pour in the chocolate chips and mix thoroughly.
- Divide the mixture into 12 equal parts and roll into balls.
- Place onto a place and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place the frozen balls on the sheet, and press down slightly.
- Bake for 8 minutes, remove, and let sit until they are completely cooled so that they can firm up. Enjoy!
Cozy Fall BeveragesFall is upon us! With the weather getting chillier, and Halloween and Thanksgiving just around the corner, here are some of my favorite hot fall-themed beverages to try this season! My (Vegan) take on the Pumpkin Spice Latte If you’re looking for a quick and healthy take on this classic fall drink, I highly recommend giving this a try. It’s packed full of good fats and beneficial ingredients without compromising any satisfaction. Prep time: 5 minutes, Servings: 1 Ingredients:
- 1 cup almond, soy, or cashew milk
- 1 cup hot brewed coffee
- 2 tablespoon pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- Optional: ½ can coconut milk (refrigerated)
- 1 cup almond, soy, or cashew milk
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Dash of ground ginger
- Dash of ground cloves
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- Sweet Peanut Shrimp
- 2 tbs peanut butter
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- 2 tbs honey
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Savory Shrimp
- 2 tbs honey mustard
- 1 tbs mayonnaise
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- A dash of oregano, paprika, pepper, basil, and parsley
- Spicy Shrimp
- 5 tbs olive oil
- 1 clove of minced garlic
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- Squeeze of lime juice
- Baby spinach
- Kale: to prepare, massage a large bowl of kale in a tablespoon of olive oil and a tsp of salt. The kale will soften and shrink, becoming much easier to chew and digest. The flavor actually compliments all three variations of shrimp surprisingly well.
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 1 cup diced cucumbers
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- Squeeze of lime juice
- My version of an enhanced “Sour Cream”: ½ cup plain Greek yogurt + ¼ cup parsley + 1 tablespoon lime juice. It seriously tastes so much better than real sour cream!!
The Best Plant-Based Sources of ProteinRecently, more people have become more aware of the negative health effects of consuming excess red meats with high levels of saturated fats (animal fats), and efforts have been made to search for alternative sources of protein. Here are my findings on the best sources of meatless protein to aim to incorporate into your diet:
Quinoa: Packed with important vitamins and minerals, quinoa is also a “complete protein”- something that is rare for plant foods. This means it contains all 9 essential amino acids, and you do not need to supplement it with other plant proteins. Contains 8g protein/cup.Edamame: In addition to packing tons of protein into each cup, Edamame also contains as much fiber as 4 slices of whole wheat bread. Steam, cook in stir fries, or add to soups. Contains 16g protein/cup.
Chia Seeds: These tiny seeds have a huge amount of protein for their size, in addition to containing omega 3 fatty acids and high fiber content. Blend into smoothies, stir into jams and jellies, or simply soak in water or plant-milk overnight to make chia pudding. Contains 9g protein/2tbs.
Lentils: They are also an excellent source of Vit B, folate, and fiber (1 cup accounts for more than your daily needs!) Substitute this for rice, or incorporate into chili’s or soups. Contains 18g protein/cup.
Greek Yogurt: This, among all yogurts, is the highest in protein, in addition to being low in calories, and extra creamy. Swap it for high-calorie condiments like mayo, sour cream, and use it as a base for your homemade ranch dressing. Contains 29g protein/cup.Tempeh: This soybean-based food is even firmer than extra-firm tofu, so it can be easily incorporated into traditional meat dishes like burgers, stir-fries, and sandwiches. Contains 31g protein/cup.
Peanut Butter: Versatile, full of protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats (which reduce your cholesterol levels), peanut butter should remain a pantry staple! Contains 32.5g protein/cup.Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans: These are extremely high in both protein and fiber. Research has shown that consuming 1 cup of these daily can significantly reduce your cholesterol levels. Bake until crispy (see my previous articles), incorporate into chili’s or soups, or mash it to create a creamy spread for your sandwiches. Contains 14g protein/cup.
Eggs: When eaten in moderation, eggs are totally okay to eat. They are cheap, rich in protein, low in calories, and contain high levels of brain-boosting Choline. Contains 7g protein /egg.
The Most Prevalent Types of Diets in 2018In the recent years, as people have become more health conscious, in all aspects of their lives, including fitness, diet, and mental health, I find that many individuals are especially curious about the different kinds of diets are becoming more prevalent today as compared to even a decade ago. Here is an overview of the different kinds of diets that are starting to become more recognized by the medical community. With approval from her physician, my mother has been on the paleo diet since 2010 and has observed significant improvements in her skin, energy levels, and physical endurance. I hope this article can help out anyone who is curious about what diet would best suit you; I would recommend consulting a physician before starting a chosen diet, just to confirm that it is fitting for your personal case and to avoid putting yourself at risk of any nutritional deficiencies. Oftentimes, you do not necessarily have to follow your chosen diet strictly every single day; there are days when my mother consumes a small amount of grain, especially when we are travelling and there are limited options outside of grains. However, on average, she follows the Paleo diet 5 out of 7 days of the week. The most important factor in producing visible results is consistency. The Paleo Diet This is essentially the “Cave Man Diet.” It stays away from all processed foods, non-natural sugars (the only sugar consumed is from fruit), ALL grains, and diary. The reason for these stipulations is to decrease the amount of glucose in your body, causing it to use fat as its fuel source. This has been associated with maintenance of healthy body weight in individuals, as well as a healthy amount of weight loss in those who aim to slightly lower their body weight to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. A simpler way to think of the Paleo diet is: vegan diet + eggs + meats. Examples of foods that can be eaten: vegetables, fruits, nuts, healthy oils, potatoes, eggs, fish, fowl, and grass-fed meats.
The Blood Type Diet
This has been a current area of research for some doctors who aim to match people with their common dietary needs based on their blood type. Please consult your physician before starting this diet, if you wish to do so.
As an example, individuals with type O blood are recommended to eat foods high in protein, and those with type A are recommended to avoid meat and emphasize tofu and fruit.The Vegan Diet This is becoming more and more prevalent as individuals become more knowledgeable about the negative effects of red-meats on human health. The vegan diet completely eliminates meats and all animal products (including dairy and leather products), while the vegetarian diet allows eggs and dairy. The main benefit of the vegan diet is that it minimizes the intake of saturated fats and cholesterol, which come only from animal sources, and are the primary cause of high blood pressure and chronic cardiovascular diseases. Contrary to popular belief, the main area that vegans must be careful about is not protein (there so many plant-based sources of protein like lentils, beans, tofu, edamame, etc.), but actually vitamin B-12, which is found in red meat. Many vegans take B-12 supplements to compensate for this.
The South Beach Diet
This diet aims to develop a healthy way of eating that is sustainable for the rest of your life. It says that its balance of good carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats makes it a nutrient-dense, fiber-rich diet. It uses the glycemic index of different foods to tell you which foods to avoid. Overall, it is a healthy way of eating whether you would like to lose weight or not.The Mediterranean Diet This is vegetable-heavy but does not eliminate meat altogether. It has been proven to help with depression, blood sugar levels, and weight management. It recommends the use of healthy unsaturated oils like olive, sesame, avocado, soybean oil, as much as possible and as replacements for unhealthy saturated oils like butter. It also favors fish over fowl and red-meat. The focus is on whole grains, nuts (unsaturated fats), and herbs.
This diet is probably the most stringent, because it eliminates all cooked and processed foods, in addition to those that have been pasteurized or produced with additives. The diet aims to increase your energy levels and to decrease inflammation and carcinogens. Foods that can be consumed include fresh fruits, vegetables, raw seeds and nuts, and raw yogurt.The Keto Diet This diet is 80% fat and barely any carbohydrates. Staples are: fish, meat, eggs, dairy, oils, and green vegetables. Grains and fruits are eliminated. The reason for this is that Keto aims to put the body in a state of ketosis, where fat is turned into ketones (the body’s back-up energy source), as opposed to using carbohydrates as an immediate source. Please ask your physician if you would like to start this diet. Sources: https://www.thecut.com and https://www.nutritioned.org