Healthy fruit salad dessert

Hi – I’m here today to share a (mostly) healthy dessert with you today. I know some people don’t care for things like Jell-O pudding or Cool Whip from a tub. I am not one of those people. I got the base of this recipe from my co-worker Jeremy, but you can use any fruit/flavors and make it your own. This is an excellent, cool and refreshing treat to share on these warm summer days.

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I decorated mine like the American flag for the 4th of July but you obviously don’t have to do that. But why not? It was cute. This was on the banks of the Missouri River in my parents backyard by Washburn. Such pretty views!

I didn’t really know what to call this. It was kind of a salad (fruit salad) but kind of a dessert (pudding and Cool Whip) so fruit salad dessert it is. It also makes a pretty good breakfast I must say.

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Like I said, I made this for a 4th of July get together. It was all gone and I still wanted more! I halved the recipe and it also turned out great in case you aren’t looking to feed a crowd.

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My goodness, the fruit has been so good this summer!

Healthy fruit salad dessert

Ingredients:

  • Large strawberry yogurt (32 oz.) or any other flavor you prefer
  • Two containers (8 oz. each) of Cool Whip (light or regular)
  • Two small boxes of sugar-free cheesecake instant pudding (vanilla, banana cream or white chocolate would also work)
  • 1 container strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 1 container of raspberries
  • 1 container of blueberries
  • 2 bananas, chopped

Put the yogurt in a bowl and mix with the pudding. (It will look a bit curdled.) Add Cool Whip and fold to incorporate. Mix in the fruit gently so it doesn’t break up. Alternately, you could layer fruit, pudding mix, fruit, pudding mix and top with more fruit for a nice presentation.

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The perfect summer treat. I can’t believe it’s already about August. Make this while the fruit is still fresh and on sale! Enjoy!

Posted in Appetizer, Dessert, Sides | Leave a comment

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Pie

I may have gone a little rhubarb crazy this year. I just can’t get enough of baking with this stuff. I wouldn’t say I was a huge fan of rhubarb growing up. I always though it was too tart. But as an adult, I really love this stuff. As a thank you for a friend, I looked for a recipe I could use with rhubarb he gave me.

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We are all familiar with berry crisp. Traditionally there might be an oat type crust, berry filling and again an oat/streusel topping. Sometimes all the oats are on top leaving the berries on the bottom. This recipe switches it up by having your “crisp” oats as the base, almost like a pie crust and the berries are the filling. You’d think the crust would get soggy, but it doesn’t! Bonus, this comes together in minutes and needs hardly any of your attention while it bakes AND uses pantry staples other than the rhubarb and berries.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Pie adapted from AllRecipes

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ brown sugar
  • ½ butter, melted
  • 2 cups chopped strawberries
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup cold water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix oats, flour, brown sugar and butter together in a bowl, press into the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan. Top with berries and rhubarb.
  3. Stir together COLD water with white sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch in a saucepan. You want cold water so the cornstarch doesn’t clump. Bring to a simmer, constantly whisking, until mixture bubbles and thickens; pour over fruit later.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until bubbling, at least 1 hour up to 1 hour, 20 minutes. Let cool as middle will thicken.

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Your sauce will be watery at first of course.

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But it thickens up as it comes up to a boil and darkens in color.

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Before and after.

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P.S. My friend suggest serving this with whipped cream or ice cream. Nuke a slice in the microwave before topping with ice cream. Naturally. Enjoy!

Posted in Baking, Dessert | Leave a comment

Fitness Check: What I’m doing now

I want to check in again with a fitness update and what I’ve been doing. This is kind of a way for me to look back on what I’ve done, liked and thought during a certain phase of (hopefully) ongoing physical fitness and healthy eating.

My T25 program ended at the end of June. Just in time for the 4th of July. I was happy to relax and have a great time with my family and eat all the good picnic food, have drinks and still get a few workouts in.

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Enjoying some Boones Farm (classy) on the patio for the 4th of July.

Current fitness routine:

  • I’m repeating T25, doing 9 weeks instead of 10. I do double videos every M, W & F.
  • Run my dog at least 1 mile Monday-Friday.
  • Tues, Thur & Sat are a mix of running, biking and swimming depending on the weather.
  • Most my workouts are 1 hour – never more than 2 hours. This is a very small snippet of my day but a mental game changer for me.

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It’s hard to say no to swimming when the biggest lake in ND is minutes from your house. This is Walleye Bay on Sakakawea.

  • Sundays are almost always my rest day doing very little other than stretching for 30 minutes. That is a long time to stretch but it has made such a difference in the way I feel and my flexibility, especially in my hips. My mind and body are very happy after my stretching. I also try to keep active around the house on Sundays by cooking and cleaning. Yes, that is active work to me.

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Me on a Sunday, lol.

As far as food I am aiming for about 40% protein and 40% carbs and 20% (healthy) fat. I’m not super strict with what I eat but during my initial T25 program I played around and these ratios seem to work for ME and make me feel the best. On weekends I am more relaxed but try not to go hog wild. I definitely need carbs to fuel my workouts. I get most my carbs from fruit, veggies and whole wheat bread/pitas. For my protein I try to eat a lot of lean meat, lean ground beef and a sprinkle of cottage cheese or yogurt/dairy. 

A few reasons why this way of eating works for me/why I do it/recent changes:

  • Flexibility. I allow myself treats but try to keep it in moderation. (<<<This is an ongoing struggle for me finding balance and moderation. I am definitely an all or nothing type of person.)
  • I love (most) vegetables. Veggies are a great source of energy and carbs depending on what you eat.
  • More fruit. I’m not a huge fruit fan. I have come to love cantaloupe, watermelon, bananas, grapes and sometimes apples. Obviously, being summer these fruits taste even better since they are in season.
  • Cost of protein. The cost of chicken is comparatively low to pork or beef. We buy a lot of chicken breasts at Sam’s Club where it is $2 a pound and freeze them individually for later use. Luckily, we do also have beef in our freezer so I don’t have to buy that and it is lean.
  • I drink alcohol now. In the first phase of T25 I cut out booze for 6 weeks. I think this was a game changer for me as far as what I eat. It helped me clean up my diet and not nursing a hangover was a nice change on Saturday mornings. But, that isn’t really a long term solution for me as I love drinks. I definitely drink less now and try to say no to random nights of drinking. But I certainly indulge on a weekend here or there.
  • Nothing is off limits. If I want something, I eat it. Or drink it! But only if it is “worth it” to me.

I eat a LOT of food. As in quantity. I work with mostly men and they are always commenting on how much I eat. I am a volume eater so by eating healthy items, you can fill your plate up without going wild in terms of fat, calories, processed food, etc.

Right now here are my “go-to” items:

  • Breakfast: protein pancakes made with banana, scrambled eggs with onions and pepper, PB&J toast, yogurt, fruit
  • Lunch: Huge salads with lean meat, tomato, cucumber, pepperoncini’s, mustard, onion, cilantro, pickles, feta cheese and hummus. Sweet potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, green beans

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Roasted broccoli & cabbage, sweet potato, grilled chicken, onions and topped with sriracha and mustard.

  • Dinner: Spaghetti squash with meatballs, taco salads/wraps, stir fry, salads, grilled protein and vegetables, pita pizzas, stuffed potatoes, slushburgers
  • Snacks: Rice cakes with peanut butter or lean meat and hummus, yogurt, PB&J caramel rice cake, fruit, veggies with hummus

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Cantaloupe, high protein yogurt with sugar free strawberry jelly, peanut butter and a caramel rice cake crumbled on top.

For me, I personally feel that “fad” diets are not long-term solution. Take low-carb, for example. I have tried this before. You WILL see results. But guess what? This way of life isn’t sustainable (to me). If I didn’t have carbs there is no way I could push myself in my workouts. Low-carb left me feeling light-headed and like a space cadet. No sugar diet? Eh – it depends on how far you take it. No added sugar might be a better option. Guess what – all fruit has sugar. Honey, fructose, sucralose, etc. It’s all sugar. It comes down to the same thing. I know some people freak out because Sriracha hot sauce (one of my faves) has sugar in it. But then they will go an eat cake or candy bars as a treat? But you are concerned about a little added sugar in a sauce you use sparingly?? Seems odd to me. I put that stuff on everything anyway, sugar or not.

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White potatoes are not the devil. I eat them. You can eat anything you want, but find out what makes you feel good. If you are eating to loose weight, you just have to create a calorie deficit. You could eat only donuts and do that. I prefer to eat food that makes me feel good including cheese. Mmmm, feta.

To each their own. I do believe in doing what works for you. HOWEVER, if you are looking to change your eating habits, I strongly encourage you to try more real food, food that isn’t processed and has no added ingredients. Change takes time. I haven’t always loved fruit or cabbage or whatever, but I found ways to prepare it that I like and your taste buds DO change over time. I promise! How your body reacts to food also changes. I still love fried food (OMG LOVE) but when I eat it now, especially if it is extra greasy, I pay for it. I feel icky the next day and it (TMI) messes with my digestion. I feel amazing when I am eating mostly all real foods and getting my workouts in. I love to sweat and I love to workout. I don’t always love it during my workout, but afterwards, I feel so accomplished. Next weekend I hope to have a post with some tips that worked for me on tips to eating healthier as I truly believe it is a progression.

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After a run with my dog friend, Winston.

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Still using my heart rate monitor. Love this Polar FT7.

I was recently asked by someone what my final goal was. That kind of stumped me. I want to continue adding muscle to my frame. I want to be fit, in shape and athletic. I’m not sure if I will maintain this pace of working out though? I am thinking of taking a bit of time off soon just to let my body rest and recover before I go on my next venture later this fall? I know you can quickly lose fitness though, so I don’t want to break too long.

In that same vein, I was recently told by someone I casually know that I was “too skinny” and didn’t look good. Well. Thank you kindly. I wonder if you would have said that I was “too fat” 80 pounds ago? As a woman, I am appalled that we just “can’t win”. People will always criticize you – whether out loud or internally. I try to be happy and support everyone. I believe if you send out good vibes, they are returned. I think that is called karma. As long as you are happy with yourself, I am happy for you no matter your size, shape, color, etc.

I will say though, if I had one wish for everyone – it is for them to feel healthy. I feel fit, clear minded and so capable. Don’t get me wrong, this hasn’t been easy. I’ve been going at this and learning what works for me for over a year! I’m still dialing in on what my body tells me and fueling properly. If you are looking to make a change in your life though, the only thing standing in your way is you and time. YOU need to commit to change because time is a sonofabitch and certainly won’t stop for you. Don’t keep putting off tomorrow. Start today! I’m so thankful off all the women(!) along the way who have helped me in my fitness. Generally, if you ask a friend, they will help you or give advice. (Except that one time I asked how to run faster and I was told to run with faster people. OK, thanks.) I am motivated by other people fighting hard in fitness classes, posting on Instagram their workouts and the struggle to improve.

I sound like a cheerleader, right? But truly – it is worth it if you want it. I like this I saw on Instagram (by the way – I post mostly food/fitness and animal stuff on Instagram at feistyeats, follow me.)

Dear Optimist, Pessimist and Realist

While you guys were busy arguing about the glass of water, I drank it!

Sincerely, The Opportunist

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See you next weekend for some tips on healthy eating tips that worked for me to gradually eat healthier. Have a great weekend! I am off to the ND State Fair with my Mom to indulge in some goodies (moderation!) and see Brad Paisley in concert.

Posted in Exercise, Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Misc | Leave a comment

Fiesta Cottage Cheese Veggie Dip

I’m not sure if you realized it or not, but my past few recipes have had cottage cheese in them. I have been trying to eat more protein and cottage cheese is an excellent source. However, cottage cheese is kind of spendy. So, when it goes on sale, I stock up and eat it in a variety of ways – including breakfast pancakes, dinner and now in this side dish which is great to take to a summer BBQ. It is full of protein, a bit of spice and when served with veggie chips, is perfectly healthy. I like to have a healthy option because as you know, it can be hard to eat healthy at a BBQ.

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This is one of the dishes I made for our 4th of July feast. It is in the pictured on the plate above next to the carrot chips, directly to the right of it. A better photo is below. Side note – dang, I really love pickles. My Aunt Cindy makes the best!

Farmgirl Susan’s Fiesta Cottage Cheese Veggie Dip from Farmgirl Fare

Ingredients:
1 16-ounce container organic cottage cheese
1 cup chopped Roma tomatoes (about 4 large), seeded and diced
1 cup chopped sweet red pepper (any color would be fine)
3 large scallions (green onions) white and green parts, chopped
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions:
Mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Feel free to add even more veggies if you like. The original recipe says to chill at least 3 hours before serving, then pass with tortilla, corn chips or veggie chips. Waiting a few hours, or even overnight, does improve the flavor. If you leave it more than a night or two, it will get watery. Just drain that off before eating but it is best eaten within the first few days, about 2-3.

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Here is a closer photo of the picture. I also have added this to the top of a garden salad and that is delicious to use in place of a heavy dressing. Enjoy!

Posted in Appetizer, Salad, Sides, Veggie | 1 Comment

Taco Stuffed Sweet Potato

As promised, here is another way to eat up the guacamole recipe I shared a few weeks ago. This is a non-recipe recipe. It is an idea you can take and make to your preference.

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You might not be able to tell but this is a taco stuffed sweet potato. I promise there is a tater under all those toppings!

  • Potato (I like the sweet potato compared to the spicy toppings, but a regular tater would be excellent as well)
  • Taco meat spiced to your preference – I like spicy ground beef or chicken
  • Fresh sliced veggies – tomato, green onion, white onion
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Taco sauce
  • Cheese
  • Sour cream or cottage cheese

Feel free to stuff your taco potato with your favorite flavors. This is an especially easy meal to make if you have leftover taco meat.

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This would be fun for a party – set up a taco bar or let your kids pick their toppings for an easy dinner. Enjoy!

Posted in Main Dish, Veggie | Leave a comment

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Here is a new idea for you! These pancakes are stuffed with protein packed cottage cheese. Don’t click away. Even if you don’t like cottage cheese I encourage you to try these. The cottage cheese fades away in the batter and the extra protein will keep you full all morning.

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Top with your favorite toppings and you are good to go!

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Recipe adapted from Weelicious, serves 4 small or 2 generously

Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 (heaping) cup flour (this will depend on how creamy your cottage cheese is, you might need more, up to 1/3 heaping cup)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • butter, oil or oil spray
Preparation
  1. Place the first 4 ingredients in a bowl and whisk.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk the dry ingredients. If you have extreme aversion to cottage cheese, feel free to blend it in a food processor.
  3. Pour the dry mixture into the wet mixture and stir until just combined.
  4. Heat a large sauté pan or griddle over medium heat, lightly coat with oil or butter and pour about 3 tbsp. of the mixture onto the griddle for each pancake.
  5. Cook for 2 minutes on each side or until pancakes are set and golden.
  6. Serve.

*To Freeze: Let pancakes come to room temperature, place in a ziploc bag, label and freeze up to 3 months. To serve again, pop in toaster or warm in the oven.

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It ends up looking pretty much like most pancake batters.

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I think my husband was pleasantly surprised on how good these were once I told him the idea. My first pancake was a flop as I didn’t have my griddle hot enough so make sure you heat your pan appropriately. They are also made better at the silver dollar size instead of a large pancake. I think the recipe source is a site for kids – so hopefully your kids will love these protein pancakes as well! Top with fruit and you have a nutritious start to your day. Enjoy!

Posted in Breakfast | 1 Comment

Maple Glazed Apple Cookies

I realize these cookies don’t look the prettiest. Especially against the brown/tan backdrop of my countertops. But guess what? I’m not a photographer and I made these cookies at 9pm on a work night so I was in a hurry. That doesn’t take away that they are soft, chewy and glazed with the sweetest maple glaze ever. Don’t let me photos fool you. Grab a couple apples and make these! This cool summer day would be perfect for these cookies.

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The cookies are moist and studded with apple chunks. The maple glaze adds sweetness.

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Maple Glazed Apple Spice Cookies, adapted from Mrs. Fields and Perry’s Plate recipes

1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Dash of salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
2 cups apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced
1/4 cup milk

Maple Glaze

1 T. butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
½ tsp. maple flavor extract
2 T. milk, as needed

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening, butter and sugar until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, mix until mixture is creamy. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and nutmeg together. Add about half of the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix well. Add nuts and apples and combine thoroughly before adding the remaining flour mixture and milk.

Bake rounded tablespoons on a prepared cookie sheet for 9-10 minutes. While baking, make your glaze by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl with a fork until smooth and glossy. Remove golden brown cookies from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool for 10 minutes and glaze cookies with a generous drizzle. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

If you don’t have shortening, all butter would work in this recipe as well.

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Apples seem like a fall treat but I had some Granny Smiths in a Bountiful Basket not too long ago that I had to use up. What better way than in cookies?

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If you glaze them when they are warm, naturally the glaze will melt a bit. This isn’t a bad thing, but be aware if you don’t want that to let them cool completely. I glazed them when they were still a bit warm. Enjoy!

Posted in Baking, Cookies, Dessert | 2 Comments