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04 Dec

Make the holiday’s best, most festive dessert with this cool and creamy peppermint cheesecake! It sits on top of a chocolate cookie crust, studded with crushed peppermint candy and smooth white chocolate, with a wintery cover of whipped cream.

This post is sponsored by Hood.

Cheesecake is always a hit for holiday parties, but it becomes even more festive and special when you introduce creamy, cozy white chocolate and wintery peppermint. Peppermint extract infuses the cheesecake with just the right amount of mintiness to offset the tangy cream cheese and keep the whole cake tasting cool and fresh. Crushed candy canes or peppermint candies add a sparkly red and white crunch throughout.

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert! White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert!

To make the cheesecake filling, you’ll need all the usual ingredients: cream cheese as the base, granulated sugar to sweeten, eggs to bind it all together, extracts like vanilla and peppermint for flavor, chopped white chocolate and crushed peppermint candies for pops of flavor and crunch…and sour cream for a lighter, softer texture.

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert! White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert!
White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert! White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert!

If you don’t traditionally add sour cream to your cheesecakes, here’s why it’s a good idea to start: First, sour cream has a similar tang to cream cheese, so you won’t be disturbing the overall flavor. Second and more importantly, because sour cream is wetter and less dense than cream cheese, it adds just enough moisture to make the filling soft and smooth but not heavy. Hood Sour Cream is perfect for baking because it’s made with high-quality Hood Milk and Cream. It’s a product that can be trusted for all of your holiday baking needs—from coffee cakes to cheesecakes like this one. And conveniently, it’s available in the dairy aisle of your local grocery store in 16 and 24-ounce tub containers or a 12-ounce squeeze bottle.

Tips to Make a Peppermint Cheesecake:

-Make sure your oven rack is set in the middle position of your oven. You don’t want to bake your cheesecake on the lower or upper rack because it will bake unevenly.

-The cookie crumb crust is as easy as can be—just mix crushed cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies with a little butter to bind them and use the flat bottom of a measuring cup to firmly and evenly pack the crumbs into the bottom of your springform pan.

-Temperature is crucial when it comes to cheesecake. Make sure that your cream cheese, eggs, and sour cream are at room temperature before baking (the cream cheese should be soft enough that you can press a finger through it with very little resistance).

-When adding the crushed peppermint candies to your cheesecake filling, stir quickly and minimally because the peppermint bits will begin to tint the batter pink.

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert! White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert!

-A springform pan is essential here. No other cake pan or deep-dish pie plate will make it possible for you to cleanly and easily remove the cheesecake. The latchable collar that forms the sides of a springform pan makes it a cinch to remove the pan from the cake while leaving it intact.

-Allow enough time to chill your cheesecake after baking—at least 6 hours or overnight.

-To achieve the perfect slice, dip a large chef’s knife into a cup filled with hot water, dry it with a kitchen towel, then slice. Clean and dip your knife between slices.

-Cheesecake will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert! White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert!

Visit Hood.com for more delicious holiday recipes and inspiration.

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake

Smooth and creamy white chocolate cheesecake infused with cool peppermint flavor, a substantial chocolate cookie crust, and a cloud cover of whipped cream make this cheesecake recipe the holiday season’s best, most beautiful dessert!

Prep Time30 mins

Cook Time1 hr 30 mins

Chilling Time8 hrs

Total Time10 hrs

Course: Dessert

Keyword: holiday dessert, peppermint cheesecake

Servings: 16

Calories: 309kcal

Author: Andie Mitchell

Crust

  • 22 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (not double-stuffed), broken in half
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 3 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 cup Hood Sour Cream
  • 4 oz white chocolate, chopped
  • cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candy like starlight mints, plus more for topping

Topping

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp powdered sugar
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and side of 9-inch springform pan.

  • Process the cookies in a food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add the melted butter and pulse until combined, 6 to 8 pulses. Transfer the crumb mixture to prepared pan and use your hands to press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan. Tip: Using the bottom of a dry measuring cup, firmly pack crust into pan. Bake until fragrant and set, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack.

  • For the filling: Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until incorporated, about 30 seconds total. Scrape down the sides of bowl. Add the sour cream, vanilla, peppermint extract, and beat just until combined, about 15 seconds. Add the chopped white chocolate and the peppermint bits and fold into the cheesecake quickly (you want to mix quickly and minimally because the peppermint bits will begin to tint the batter pink).

  • Pour the cheesecake mixture over the crust. Lift and gently tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles. Pop any air bubbles that have risen to surface.

  • Bake the cheesecake until the edges are set and center jiggles slightly when shaken and (it Bake until edges are just golden and center jiggles slightly when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes. Run a knife around edge of pan rim. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Refrigerate, uncovered, until completely cold, about 6 hours or overnight.

  • To unmold the cheesecake, run a small sharp knife between around the sides of the pan, then unlock and release the sides. Optional: To loosen the crust from the pan, slide a thin metal spatula between the crust and the bottom, then slide the cheesecake onto your serving platter.For the topping, in a large bowl, beat the cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar with an electric mixer (handheld or stand mixer) until stiff peaks form. Spread half of the whipped cream over the cheesecake and spoon the remaining half into a large plastic bag, snip off one bottom corner of the bag with scissors and pipe the whipped cream in small circles around the edges of the cake. Sprinkle the top with more crushed peppermint candies.
  • Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. It can be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days.

-Make sure your oven rack is set in the middle position of your oven. You don’t want to bake your cheesecake on the lower or upper rack because it will bake unevenly.
-The cookie crumb crust is as easy as can be—just mix crushed cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies with a little butter to bind them and use the flat bottom of a measuring cup to firmly and evenly pack the crumbs into the bottom of your springform pan.
-Temperature is crucial when it comes to cheesecake. Make sure that your cream cheese, eggs, and sour cream are at room temperature before baking (the cream cheese should be soft enough that you can press a finger through it with very little resistance).
-When adding the crushed peppermint candies to your cheesecake filling, stir quickly and minimally because the peppermint bits will begin to tint the batter pink.
-A springform pan is essential here. No other cake pan or deep-dish pie plate will make it possible for you to cleanly and easily remove the cheesecake. The latchable collar that forms the sides of a springform pan makes it a cinch to remove the pan from the cake while leaving it intact.
-Allow enough time to chill your cheesecake after baking—at least 6 hours or overnight.
-To achieve the perfect slice, dip a large chef’s knife into a cup filled with hot water, dry it with a kitchen towel, then slice. Clean and dip your knife between slices.
-Cheesecake will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Credit: Source link

21 Nov

This post is sponsored by HP Hood. All opinions are my own.

Our first year of feeding James was a bit of a bumpy ride. First, I couldn’t produce enough milk so we switched to formula. Then, we had to find the right formula for him, which took a few tries. And the little guy would spit up so much after every meal that he basically wore a bib whenever he was awake. His doctor confirmed everything was fine; he just had to develop a stronger esophagus—which he did, after nine months. It’s worth mentioning that formula can be expensive, too. I say all of this to give you an idea of how much we were looking forward to the switch from formula to whole milk, which happens for most children at 12 months.

hood whole milk for babyhood whole milk for baby

Sure enough, at James’ 12-month appointment his pediatrician told us that he was ready to make the transition.

Here’s what we learned:

Use Whole Milk

When transitioning your baby to cow’s milk, it’s important to give him or her whole milk because that higher dietary fat content is beneficial for brain development (skim, 2%, and non-dairy alternatives like almond milk aren’t recommended). Whole milk also has plenty of protein for muscles and calcium and vitamin D to develop strong bones. Hood, the beloved dairy brand here in New England, believes that the milk we give to our little ones matters. That’s why they have high standards of quality and don’t add any artificial growth hormones or antibiotics. Hood milk provides nine essential nutrients per serving along with 8 grams of protein and the fat necessary for brain development.

Make the Transition as Gradual as You Want

There are different ways to make the switch and they range from very slow to a quick, cold-turkey swap. Some babies need to be gradually transitioned to cow’s milk so that their digestive system can get used to it. And even if that’s not the case, some babies are sensitive to change in general, so you might also take a slower approach and begin substituting whole milk for some of the formula in their bottle, increasing the amount of milk over a period of a few days or weeks, depending on how your child responds. For example, you’d start by mixing 6 ounces of formula with 2 ounces of whole milk, then shift to 4 ounces of formula with 4 ounces of whole milk, and then to 2 ounces of formula with 6 ounces of whole milk.

Another way to make the switch is to completely swap out the formula for whole milk in one or two of your toddler’s daily bottles, eventually phasing out the formula bottles altogether. This is the approach we took, at the recommendation of our pediatrician, knowing that James doesn’t have any allergies. Thankfully James didn’t have any issues making the switch and seemed to love it right away.

Warming the Milk Helps

Whole milk out of the fridge is cold, obviously, which might be a little jarring to your baby, who is used to warm or room temp formula or breast milk. Warming it up slightly (by placing the filled bottle in a bowl with warm water for a few minutes) helps to make it more like what they’ve grown accustomed to. Note, though: you don’t want to get into the routine of warming every bottle, so do this sparingly to avoid creating another habit you’ll have to later break. For us, warming the first and last bottles of the day seemed to be a soothing way to transition James.

Now our goal is to phase out the bottles completely, in favor of sippy cups, which seems to be going well so far but I’ll report back!

You can find Hood milk in your local dairy aisle. Or go to Hood.com to find out more information and find stores near you.

Credit: Source link

19 Nov


This loaded cauliflower soup recipe is a lighter twist on the classic loaded baked potato soup—full of creamy, rich flavor and topped with bacon and cheese for a fraction of the calories, carbs, and fat. Easy to make and ready in 40 minutes. (200 calories or 3 WW points)

Loaded baked potato soup is prime comfort food, but it’s also loaded with calories. My lightened-up version swaps the potatoes for low-cal/low-carb cauliflower while keeping all of the comforting appeal.

How to Make Loaded Cauliflower Soup

  • In a Dutch oven set over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, set aside, and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings from the pan. Raise the heat to medium-high.
  • Add the chopped onion, celery, and garlic to the pan and drippings and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to become tender, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped cauliflower, the chicken broth, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. Bring the broth to a boil; cover and reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the cauliflower is completely tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Let the mixture cool slightly then carefully pour it into a blender. Add the whole milk. Attach the blender lid on top, removing the center piece of the lid to let steam escape. Cover that center opening with a towel, holding your hand over the towel, and process the soup mixture on low at first (gradually increasing the speed) until completely smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the smooth soup back into the Dutch oven on the stovetop and set it over medium heat to let it warm through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper, if needed
  • Crumble the cooked bacon slices. Serve the soup in bowls topped with crumbled bacon and shredded cheddar cheese.
creamy cauliflower soupcreamy cauliflower soup

Why use cauliflower in this soup recipe?

Cauliflower is the ultimate blank-canvas veggie. You can roast its florets, pulse it into “rice”, mash it, and even blend it into a creamy soup like this one. Like potatoes, cauliflower doesn’t have a strong flavor so it’s the perfect low carb substitution in lots of recipes (you can even add frozen cauliflower florets to smoothies for bulk and creaminess!).

low calorie soup recipelow calorie soup recipe

What so you serve with this soup recipe?

This recipe makes 6 servings and each serving is around 230 calories, so it’s great to serve as an appetizer or as a light lunch. To make it a fuller meal, serve it with a side of crusty bread, cornbread or a side salad.

Top tips to make this recipe

  • Cooking the veggies in a little bit of the rendered bacon fat infuses the soup with rich, smoky flavor.
  • Use a stick blender or stand blender to puree the soup into a silky-smooth consistency.
  • If using a stand blender, make sure you allow the soup to cool slightly before pouring it in your blender. Attach the blender lid on top, removing the center piece of the lid to let steam escape. Cover that center opening with a towel, holding your hand over the towel, and process the soup mixture on low at first (gradually increasing the speed) until completely smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for around 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove.
  • The soup also freezes well. Thaw it in the fridge overnight before reheating.
loaded cauliflower souploaded cauliflower soup

For more delicious soup recipes for the cold weather:

If you have tried this Easy Granola recipe, or any other recipe on my blog, please let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also follow me on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious, healthy, family-friendly food!

Loaded Cauliflower Soup

This loaded cauliflower soup is a healthy twist on the classic loaded baked potato soup. This lightened up version is lower in calories, carbs and fat but is still creamy, savory and rich. Easy to make, too!

Prep Time15 mins

Cook Time25 mins

Total Time40 mins

Course: Soup

Cuisine: American

Keyword: easy cauliflower soup, loaded cauliflower soup recipe, low carb soup recipe

Servings: 6

Calories: 200kcal

  • 6 slices center cut bacon
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onion
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups chopped cauliflower (from a 2-pound head)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • In a Dutch oven set over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, set aside, and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings from the pan. Raise the heat to medium-high.

  • Add the chopped onion, celery, and garlic to the pan and drippings and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to become tender, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped cauliflower, the chicken broth, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. Bring the broth to a boil; cover and reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the cauliflower is completely tender, about 15 minutes.

  • Let the mixture cool slightly then carefully pour it into a blender. Add the whole milk. Attach the blender lid on top, removing the center piece of the lid to let steam escape. Cover that center opening with a towel, holding your hand over the towel, and process the soup mixture on low at first (gradually increasing the speed) until completely smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the smooth soup back into the Dutch oven on the stovetop and set it over medium heat to let it warm through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper, if needed

  • Crumble the cooked bacon slices. Serve the soup in bowls topped with crumbled bacon and shredded cheddar cheese.

1 serving (1/6th of recipe or 1 1/4 cups soup topped with 1 slice of bacon, crumbled, and 1 heaping tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese): 3 WW Freestyle points
Adapted from Cooking Light Cauliflower Soup

Calories: 200kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 889mg | Potassium: 649mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 292IU | Vitamin C: 78mg | Calcium: 158mg | Iron: 1mg






Credit: Source link

18 Nov

I have received a bunch of questions recently about losing pregnancy weight while breastfeeding…and it’s a question I can’t answer because my baby was exclusively formula fed. Like most new moms, I assumed I would breastfeed buuut like many aspects of parenthood, those assumptions were challenged by reality.

I realized I was going to have problems with breastfeeding almost immediately. I could see I was producing some colostrum (drops, really) but James never seemed satisfied. He would latch and feed for hours at a time, then seem unsettled and go back for more. While we were in the hospital, he cried all night, so I kept offering him my breast. At that point, I had been in labor for 39 hours, pushing for 3 and a half hours, and hadn’t slept in about 3 days. I was quickly losing my sanity. My instincts told me he was hungry and I think he spent so much time trying to feed he also was suffering from a lack of sleep. On the second night after he fed for two straight hours only to start screaming, crying, and rooting, I asked the nurse to get him some formula.

She did, but it was clear she was hesitant when she asked if I was suuuure a couple times in a row. James drank 20 ml in what felt like seconds, which was the most she said he could have. He seemed content for a few minutes before spitting up. She turned to me and said “that’s what happens when you use formula. Their systems can’t handle it.” I felt even more guilty for not being able to properly nourish my son.

I met with a lactation consultant the following day in the hospital. She was well-meaning but the experience was extremely frustrating. I felt like she was going into way too much detail about the most basic things. I was tired and uncomfortable. Both James and I were sweating profusely. When our session was wrapping up, she began explaining how to find more resources and then started to explain how to google information in excruciating detail, “You could go on a computer and go to google.com and then in the search box you could try typing lactation help and then your zip code and press enter. Now where do you live?” I just burst into tears. I couldn’t handle it anymore. Thankfully Daniel was there and asked her kindly if we could just have some time alone.

When we got home, I kept trying to breastfeed. I remember staying up all night, watching a whole season of Better Call Saul (worth noting that I don’t remember a single thing about it). James would nurse for hours and hours and then continue crying and rooting. It was heartbreaking. We went to the doctor every day that first week home and he kept losing weight. I met with another lactation consultant at the pediatrician who was very sweet. Then we had another meeting with the pediatrician. Our doctor was called out of the room for an emergency and one of the other doctors from the practice came in to talk to us. This was one of the luckiest moments of my life because our meeting with the new doctor saved me. She told me her own story of not being able to breastfeed her children and how difficult it was for her. She tried both times and ended up formula feeding and felt guilty. But she sees plenty of children who are fed formula and are just as healthy as breastfed babies. It was really what I needed to hear. I knew in my heart breastfeeding wasn’t working, but I felt like talking to the doctor finally gave me permission to try something else.

On the way home we stopped at Walgreens and bought formula. James drank 50ml in the car, and for the first time in his short existence on the planet he seemed utterly content. I considered still trying to breastfeed what I could, but ultimately decided I couldn’t. I stopped entirely.

From the time he was one week old, James was exclusively formula fed and I’ve felt some shame and guilt about that throughout motherhood. But now, a year in, I am completely at peace with it. Parents should never feel ashamed about formula feeding. There are many good reasons to use formula just as there are good reasons to breastfeed. You just have to figure out what’s best for your family. He did spit up quite a bit in the first six months, but I have no idea if that was because of the formula or not. I do know he is perfectly healthy and happy. He received the nutrition he needed and his mom got her sanity back.

Credit: Source link

18 Nov

This healthy pumpkin bread is moist, tender, and easy to make—no mixer required! It’s packed with healthy ingredients like whole wheat flour, coconut oil, and pumpkin. Plus, there’s no refined sugar or flour! 190 calories or 8 WW points

The first of October means that we’re in cozy fall mode. It’s all comfort food, warm, fragrant spices, sunset colors, and pumpkin everything. Naturally, this super-moist, whole wheat pumpkin bread fits right in. It’s perfectly pumpkin-spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. The best part? It’s made entirely with wholesome, good-for-you ingredients: 100% whole wheat flour, melted coconut oil instead of butter or vegetable oil, and pure maple syrup in place of refined sugar—so you can feel confident eating it and giving it to your kiddos, too!

A Tip for Using Coconut Oil in this Recipe

Measure your coconut oil while it’s solid (its natural state while at room temperature) by spooning it into your measuring cup. Next, scoop it into a bowl and microwave briefly (10 seconds or so), to melt it. The key from here is making sure that your eggs and maple syrup are at room temperature, so that they’ll combine with the coconut oil easily (otherwise the warm coconut oil can seize up, clump, and harden). You can microwave your maple syrup for a few seconds to warm it up slightly (don’t get it hot, just room temperature) and place your eggs in a bowl with hot water for a few minutes to warm them.

How Long Does Pumpkin Bread Last For?

Properly stored, freshly baked pumpkin bread can last for 2 to 3 days at room temperature or for about 1 week in the fridge. Allow your pumpkin loaf to cool completely, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. As well as prolonging the life of the bread, plastic wrap helps keep it moist.

Pumpkin bread can be frozen, too. To freeze, wrap your loaf in plastic wrap followed by a layer of aluminum foil or place the plastic-wrapped loaf in a sealed freezer bag. Freeze for up to 1 month.

Healthy Pumpkin Bread

Prep Time10 mins

Cook Time35 mins

Total Time45 mins

Servings: 12

Calories: 189kcal

  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Preheat the oven to 350. Use coconut oil to grease a standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

  • In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.

  • In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla, whisking to combine.

  • Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix with a fork (or a handheld electric beater) until combined. Be careful not to overmix. Stir in the pumpkin puree. Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.

  • Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

1 Slice (1/12th of the Loaf): 8 WW Freestyle points
Measure your coconut oil while it’s solid (its natural state while at room temperature) by spooning it into your measuring cup. Next, scoop it into a bowl and microwave briefly (10 seconds or so), to melt it. The key from here is making sure that your eggs and maple syrup are at room temperature, so that they’ll combine with the coconut oil easily (otherwise the warm coconut oil can seize up, clump, and harden). You can microwave your maple syrup for a few seconds to warm it up slightly (don’t get it hot, just room temperature) and place your eggs in a bowl with hot water for a few minutes to warm them.
Recipe adapted from 100 Days of Real Food

Serving: 1g | Calories: 189kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 170mg | Potassium: 161mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 3228IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 1mg

Credit: Source link

18 Nov

James just turned 13 months old, so naturally I consider myself a newly minted expert on all things related to parenting. But seriously, there is one thing I’ve recently realized that I think will be really helpful to new parents. Get your notebooks out—Your child will do things when they’re ready.

I know that’s incredibly obvious. But if you really accept it as truth, it removes so much anxiety. For the first 12+ months of his life, James would not nap by himself. (link to blog post where we talked about his sleep). Initially, he would only sleep in our arms and then he started to sleep on his own at night, but still needed to be held for naps.

We had tried every suggested strategy and spent so much time trying to figure out a way to put him down for a nap, but the best we ever got would be a short 20-30 minute nap and then a very grumpy and tired baby. It was maddening and stressful on all of us. But this past week, while holding him for his nap he would be tired but start kicking like he didn’t want to be held. So I’d set him down in his crib and he happily went to sleep for over an hour. He has done it for both naps each day for a week. He just wasn’t ready to nap alone, and now he is.

This has been the case for so many things. We spent a few days trying to give him a sippy cup and it was another kind of messy, awkward ordeal where he would either be having a blast spouting water ev-er-y-where, waterboarding himself, or getting frustrated and cry. So we gave up for a while. And then when we tried again, he miraculously knew how to do it. Now I’m sure the previous experience helped him a little, but the truth is I just don’t think he was ready, either physically or intellectually to figure it out. But once he was, it was a cinch.

It can be frustrating when you google milestones or behavioral quirks and read about other babies who are composing symphonies, writing novels, and deadlifting 400 pounds at 10 months. The reality is babies develop at different rates and the range of normal development and behavior is huge. So let go of the anxiety and just accept that your child will master skills or outgrow undesirable behaviors at their own rate. Something Daniel used to say was “I don’t know any adults who need to be held and rocked to sleep,” meaning that even though it can be a long and bumpy journey to get there, eventually every baby figures out how to sleep on their own.

I’d love to know—have you found this to be true for your child or children?

Credit: Source link

18 Nov


Our local YMCA is about 20 minutes from our house. We first visited when James took swim lessons there over the summer. He loved being in the pool (and we loved doing it with him) so when the summer session ended, we knew we should sign him up for the next level. We checked session schedules online and noticed another option he’d love—a gymnastics class called “Me and My 1-Year-Old.” We decided to sign up for a family membership and so far, it’s been more worthwhile than I expected. Here’s the big reason why: child watch.

Daniel and I both work from home, so one of us is with James pretty much all the time—and we love it! As two former latch-key kids from a very early age, we are so happy and feel so unbelievably fortunate to be home with him. Still, it’s not always easy to create boundaries around work time, family/James time, and personal time (I know I’m not alone when I say that as a parent, my perception of “me time” tends to swing between feeling selfish and indulgent). This is why the child watch at the Y has been a blessing. Every day, they offer free child watch to members—a great option that allows parents time to work out or heck, take a hot shower, for up to 2 hours a day. I haven’t worked up to that amount of time just yet—and maybe I never will who knows, but I love that James can play with other kiddos safely while I’m in the gym.

At first, I was a little hesitant (can you tell I’m a first time parent? Ha) and left James for just a short time to see how he did, but he always seemed perfectly happy when I picked him up or checked on him. Anytime I felt guilty or nervous that he might be upset, I reminded myself that before we signed up we took a tour and met with some of the folks who work in the child watch area. The area was clean and safe. I knew that if he did get upset, I’m always nearby and an employee would come get me.

So if you’re looking for a short break from time to time, see if you have a YMCA or another similar family gym nearby. You can use the time to exercise, answer a pressing email or two, make a phone call…or sit in the lobby and read a book if that’s what would recharge you. Take care of yourself.





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17 Nov

This homemade, healthy granola recipe packs a delicious pumpkin spice punch, perfect for fall, and it’s made entirely with good for you ingredients (200 calories or 6 WW points). It’s an easy make-ahead breakfast or snack and since it stores well at room temperature or in the freezer, it would be a great homemade gift!

We’re in the thick of pumpkin spice season, friends, and this homemade healthy granola is a hit at our house. It’s quick to make and every ingredient is both nutritious and probably already in your pantry: rolled oats, pepitas (a type of pumpkin seed), canned pumpkin puree, pure maple syrup, coconut oil, and warm fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. The maple syrup sweetens it juuust enough—not too little, not too much—and the aromatic cinnamon and ginger add warmth, depth, and help to bring out even more natural sweetness.

How To Make a Healthy Pumpkin Spice Granola

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups oats and 1/2 cup of pepitas.
  • In a small saucepan, whisk together coconut oil, canned pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, a pinch of salt. Heat the mixture over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the coconut oil is melted and the mixture is warm. Pour this warm pumpkin mixture over the oats and pepitas and mix well with a spoon. Scoop the granola onto your prepared pan and use a large spoon to spread it in an even layer.
  • Bake until until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. The granola will further crisp up as it cools.
  • Let the granola cool completely, undisturbed, then break the granola into pieces with your hands, separating it into big or small chunks depending on your preference.
top down shot of easy granola on a baking traytop down shot of easy granola on a baking tray
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Tips for Better Granola

  • Be sure to line your baking sheet with parchment paper so that the sweet stuff sticks to your oats rather than the pan.
  • Heating your wet ingredients and spices (coconut oil, canned pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt) in a small saucepan serves to melt the coconut oil (like butter, coconut oil is a solid at room temperature), allowing it to combine more easily with the other ingredients, and ensures that all of the flavorful ingredients and spices are evenly mixed into a sort-of sauce that you can pour over your oats.
  • Instead of heating your wet ingredients on the stove, you can whisk them together in a microwave-safe bowl and then heat them for 45 seconds to 1 minute.
  • For chunky granola, gently press down on the granola with the back of a spatula after spreading it on your baking sheet before baking. Not stirring the granola halfway through baking also helps to create a clumpier texture.
  • Don’t bake the granola too long—just until it’s golden on top. It might seem a little soft to the touch when you remove it from the oven, but it will continue to crisp up as it cools.
  • Using pepitas, a type of pumpkin seeds, makes this recipe nut-free, which would make the granola an allergy-friendly option for your kids to bring to school. Pecans, almonds, or walnuts would work just as well.
easy granola recipe in a serving glasseasy granola recipe in a serving glass

How Long Will Homemade Granola Last?

After your granola has completely cooled, store it in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 10 days. You can also freeze the granola just as you would cookies or other treats—either wrapped tightly in a layer of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil or in resealable freezer bag.

Check Out These Other Easy Breakfast Recipes

Cashew Ginger Granola with Dates and Sesame Seeds
Roasted Butternut Squash with Granola and Greek Yogurt
Toasted Coconut and Pineapple Granola
Slow Cooker Oatmeal 3 Ways
Superfood Green Smoothie Bowl
DIY Breakfast Toast Bar
Banana Oatmeal Recipe by Chocolate Covered Katie
Healthy Blueberry Muffins by Well Plated

If you have tried this Easy Granola recipe, or any other recipe on my blog, please let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also follow me on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious, healthy, family-friendly food!

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Granola

Prep Time10 mins

Cook Time25 mins

Total Time35 mins

Course: Breakfast, Snacks

Servings: 12 1/4-cup servings

Calories: 208kcal

  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup pepitas (or chopped pecans)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin puree
  • cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • In a large bowl, mix the oats and pepitas.

  • In a small saucepan, whisk together the coconut oil, pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt. Heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the coconut oil is melted and the mixture is warm. (Alternatively, you can whisk these ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and then heat for 45 seconds to 1 minute.

  • Pour this pumpkin mixture over the oats and pepitas and mix well with a spoon. Spread mixture onto your prepared baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool completely, undisturbed (it will crisp as it cools). Once cool, break the granola into pieces with your hands if you want to retain big chunks, or break it apart with a wooden spoon if you don’t want extra-clumpy granola.

  • Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 10 days.

Calories: 208kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 62mg | Potassium: 184mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1906IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 2mg


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17 Nov

1 week postpartum

Gaining weight during pregnancy—and then trying to lose weight after baby—is an emotional rollercoaster for so many women, and perhaps especially for those of us with lifelong issues with food. At my first OB appointment, my doctor told me I should aim to gain 25-30 pounds over the course of my pregnancy, which seemed reasonable enough to me. The only tricky part—I was already 20 pounds above my happy weight (that weight range where I feel confident and energetic, where I’m not bingeing and my clothes fit). It was the beginning of January 2018 at that first appointment. Daniel and I had gotten married at the end of that previous September and waited a few weeks before hopping a plane to Hawaii for our honeymoon, which was a blissful two weeks long and full of incredible food. We got home just before Halloween, just in time for me to break in our new kitchen with all the holiday baking I could possibly do. We were in full-on merry mode, eating our way through Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve—hence the 20-pound gain.

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1 month postpartum

So sure, I was starting at a higher weight than I might have liked, but what could I do? I had no intention to reel it in or restrict or “get back on track.” I was on a new track, nourishing my baby. And maybe that simple fact—that I couldn’t diet and so there was no looming restriction—was what made it easy to accept reality.

My only aim was to eat as wide a variety of wholesome foods as possible while also honoring the many, many cravings coming at me daily. So what did that jargon mean? It meant that I tried my best, which landed me about a mile away from perfection but y’know, in the neighborhood.

All in all, I gained 48 pounds during my pregnancy. More than I intended, but a number I was pretty comfortable with, considering all the challenges that pregnancy throws at you…and as potentially annoying as it sounds, I loved being pregnant. I felt fairly comfortable physically up until my last few weeks, so I was able to stay reasonably active in day-to-day life. I walked every day, cleaned my house non-stop (scrubbing inside and under cabinets was became a hobby), organized and then reorganized, and dabbled in DIY landscaping (which, yup, looked extremely DIY). I tried to find a middle ground between providing my baby with good, solid nutrition and a wide range of nutrients while also not causing myself too much stress in an attempt to be perfect at it. And of course, I wasn’t always quite the model of balance and moderation. Two of my strongest cravings were for Indian food and fried chicken sandwiches with mayo and pickles, and there’s an Indian restaurant nearby with a killer lunchtime buffet and a great deli up the street that makes an outstanding chicken cutlet sub, if that can illuminate my pregnancy eating for you.

losing weight after babylosing weight after baby
3 months postpartum

And now, here’s where things went off the rails. You might expect weight gain during pregnancy, but you probably don’t expect the weight gain afterward. On one of my first few days home after having James, I stepped on the scale out of curiosity and noticed I’d lost 20 pounds. Huh, I thought, surprised, only not pleasantly surprised like you might think—I was too tired to be pleased with myself. I had no plans to begin losing weight anytime soon and in our first week home, food was the last thing on my mind. I ate quick, convenient meals when I could, at all hours of the day and night, but noticed that nothing I ate seemed to taste like much of anything. Sweets, though, gave me fast energy. Every time I walked by the kitchen, I’d grab something—a cookie, a piece of candy—and momentarily it gave me a hit of optimism, like I wasn’t always going to feel as exhausted and rundown as I was. Looking back now, I understand that I was caught in the fog of either the baby blues or postpartum depression. I still don’t entirely know which it was because the whole experience of birthing a human being, getting to know that little person, learning to care for him, all the while feeling tremendously blessed and overwhelmed by new motherhood…is itself a massive, transformative, life-altering shift that could of course never be easy no matter how sunny and optimistic your natural disposition.

And so I ate, more and more each day until I was full-on bingeing every night in a sort of last supper attempt, promising myself that I’d stop tomorrow and begin eating healthier. Remember when I told you I had lost 20 pounds immediately postpartum? Well I gained those right back, plus 15 extra!, in just under two month’s time. It was astonishingly easy to do, but I didn’t feel good. Eating constantly made me feel—surprise!—heavy and lethargic. Every part of me ached, especially my back, which I threw out several times while lifting James. I didn’t think it was possible, but the sugar roller coaster I was riding was leaving me even more exhausted. I weighed 80-some-odd pounds more than my comfortable weight and I felt it. And as overwhelming as the mere thought of change can be when you recognize how far away you are from where you want to be, I was ready.

losing weight after babylosing weight after baby
4 months postpartum

Diet

On November first of 2018, I started by eliminating the easy, empty calories—like the maple pecan flavor syrup that I’d been adding to my iced coffees at Dunkin Donuts, and going back to basics with regular, structured meals. I aimed to eat three healthy meals a day with one snack in the evening. I’ve never been much of a snacker or the type to eat many small meals. I’ve always preferred to eat a few bigger meals. The food varied, mostly based on what I made for dinner because I usually ate leftovers for lunch, but my emphasis was always eating as many whole, single ingredient foods as I could. We ate a lot of chicken stir fries made with veggies and canned beans because it was super easy to make and buy in bulk. Daniel made some crock pot meals like his famous barbacoa (which I’m pretty sure is just him throwing whatever ingredients he can find in the cabinet into a crock pot with some cholula hot sauce). I ate a lot of hard boiled eggs for breakfast because they were easy to prepare ahead of time. At night before bed, my favorite thing to eat was a big bowl of oatmeal with a banana. It was warm and filling and I knew I wouldn’t go to bed hungry.

5 months postpartum

Exercise

I’ve never been someone who liked exercise. I wish I was the person who fell in love with the gym or couldn’t start their day without a run. But I just can’t stick to an exercise routine. This is an area where motherhood really benefited me because even though I don’t “exercise,” I am very active. When James was very small, I used to walk him around the neighborhood in the stroller. I was constantly carrying him around and rocking and dancing with him. Then when he became mobile, I feel like I am more active than when I used to run several miles on a treadmill. I get down on the floor with him and play his favorite game which is me chasing him while speed crawling. I am constantly bending, lifting, playing, cleaning, and moving. And everywhere I go, I carry a crazy cute 27-pound weight with me. Taking care of a toddler is physical work and I genuinely think I get enough activity just from parenting.

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6 months postpartum
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8 months postpartum
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10 months postpartum
11 months postpartum

Mindset

The most positive aspect of my postpartum experience has been how little I got hung up on my weight. For my entire life, food was the most important thing on my mind. I was obsessed with eating or thinking about what I was going to eat. All of a sudden, I had something in my life that completely took over my mind. My changes in priority meant I wasn’t so focused on myself, and that’s a good thing.

James nourishes a part of me that I have historically filled with food. Taking care of him makes me mindful of all the ways I need to take care of myself. When you’re a new parent, you’re forced to stop wasting time–watching tv, scrolling social media–and with the little free time you do have, you get really clear about what you truly need to not only survive, but to thrive. I was able to see what was really important for me and develop a positive routine. I don’t have time to obsess over food, or spend an afternoon binge eating. And it isn’t limited to food either. For me, it’s essential that I have an hour at night to shower, do my skincare routine, apply lotion, listen to a podcast, and go to bed early.

12 months postpartum

My Body

By James’ first birthday back in September, I had lost 80 pounds. I felt the best I had in ages—strong and energetic and balanced. I wasn’t so tired all the time, like I had been for those first four or five months postpartum. My old clothes fit once again. But make no mistake—my bare body (under those clothes) does not look like a model’s, and it never has, not even at my thinnest. It’s squishy and soft and dimpled and, well, covered in stretch marks. Because I was big for decades, I had a lot of excess skin leftover after I lost 135 pounds 12 years ago. I had some of that skin removed through surgery, from my belly and my thighs, but honestly the thigh skin removal never worked and the skin on my belly has lost all elasticity. The flesh on my thighs is saggy and deflated-looking, wobbly like a turkey neck. Physically, pregnancy didn’t quite help any of this, what with the ballooning size and all, but I really don’t mind. I’ll never have the figure of a swimsuit model—and that’s OK! I’ve spent 34 years in this one body, and maybe that’s just enough time to learn to accept that all of its scars are just memories of all that it’s done for me.

12 months postpartum

It’s true what they say about the miracle of childbirth, about how it gives you a new appreciation of your body. I couldn’t have said this two years ago, but today I look at my body with much more kindness, more understanding, and far more gratitude.

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I’d love to hear from you—How was your postpartum weight journey?

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17 Nov

These flavor-packed lamb meatballs are made in 20 minutes using the broiler, ground lamb, and fresh Greek flavors like lemon, oregano, coriander, cumin, and fresh parsley. (250 calories or 8 WW points)

This post is sponsored by Farmer’s Mark American Lamb.

Every once in a while, I begin to feel a little claustrophobic about our current meal rotation. It’s a cycle I’ve been through enough times now to recognize that when I start to feel like I only ever make the same chicken this or steak that, it’s time to shake things up. This week, I’m adding a little verve to the traditional Italian meatballs I make all the time with new ingredients and new flavors. These flavor-packed meatballs are made with nutrient-rich American ground lamb and fresh Greek flavors like lemon, oregano, coriander, cumin, and fresh parsley.

To cut down on active cooking time and make my lamb meatball recipe easier (always looking out for the tired weeknight cooks), I like to broil them rather than pan-frying. After 10-12 minutes under the high heat of the broiler, you’ll have a pan full of well-browned meatballs with tender middles.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you might consider lamb a holiday meat—the kind of protein you reserve for special occasions, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a great choice to add to your regular rotation. It’s familiar enough to be comforting but different enough to feel special. And getting more diverse nutrients is always beneficial. American lamb is a great source of protein, vitamin B12, niacin, zinc and selenium. A 3-ounce serving of lamb provides nearly five times the essential omega-3 fatty acids and alpha linoleic acid of a 3-ounce serving of beef.

You can also feel good about where this meat is sourced from. I used Farmer’s Mark American lamb by Superior Farms, which is humanely and sustainably raised on open pastures. They don’t use any antibiotics or added hormones. So it’s a great meat to use when you are adding lamb into the rotation.

These greek meatballs are moist, tender, and incredibly tasty, with the meaty, savory flavor of lamb and fresh herbs. And if taste wasn’t enough, they’re really versatile, too—serve them as a main dish with rice and salad; stuff them in a pita with tzatziki sauce for lunch; or stick toothpicks in them for a great appetizer.

Tips for Better Lamb Meatballs

  • To ensure tender meatballs, aim to mix the meat and other ingredients just until they’re combined—too much mixing will make your lamb meatballs tough.
  • One way to cut down on the amount of mixing you need to do is by stirring together all of the dry ingredients (panko, herbs, and spices) before adding them to the ground lamb and egg.
  • When rolling the mixture into balls, try to be gentle. Packing the ingredients together too tightly will make them overly firm.
  • If you don’t have panko, use a piece of bread and pulse it in the food processor until it turns to crumbs.

Greek Lamb Meatballs

This flavor-packed lamb meatball recipe is made in 20 minutes using the broiler, ground lamb, and fresh Greek flavors like lemon, oregano, coriander, cumin, and fresh parsley. 250 calories or 8 WW points per serving

Prep Time10 mins

Cook Time12 mins

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: greek

Keyword: best meatball recipe, lamb recipes

Servings: 6

Calories: 248kcal

  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs plain
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 egg
  • Preheat your oven’s broiler. Set the oven rack about 7 inches from the heat. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease it with vegetable oil.

  • In a large bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, lemon zest, oregano, coriander, cumin, salt, and pepper. Add the ground lamb and egg and use your hands to mix until combined.

  • Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions, roll into balls, and arrange on your prepared baking sheet.

  • Broil until browned and cooked through, flipping halfway, 10 to 12 minutes.

Serving: 2meatballs | Calories: 248kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 287mg | Potassium: 195mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 146IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 2mg

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