I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. We sure did. Spent some time up at the lake with some good friends and then spent the 4th here and had some neighbors over to celebrate a bit more. The kids had a great time playing with friends and watching fireworks. They are out of school this week and next week they each start their new school year. We have year-round school here in NC and we LOVE it. I can talk lots and lots about the ups and downs of going to school year round, but overall we really like it.
I was thinking over the weekend that I had better post some healthier recipes soon or people will start to think that I only consume cakes, dips and cocktails. The truth is though, I would say that I eat healthy about 80-90 percent of the time, but for the 10-20 percent of the time that I eat less than healthy food I make a point to make sure that it’s GOOD. I figure if I am going to put something in my body that has some extra fat or calories, it better be full of flavor and typically made from scratch (there are exceptions to that as well.) Otherwise, why waste the calories, right? So I thought today would be a good time to share some of the changes I have made to my diet to help balance out my love for sweets and snacks and the food that keeps me healthy and energized.
1.) If I have something on my plate that is not as healthy ( like a burger or a burrito,) I will just have some fresh fruit or veggies on the side to compensate a bit.
2) I have started paying less attention to calories and more attention to the types and amounts of foods that I am eating. By concentrating on these two areas you will usually find that the calories that you consume will go down as well. I try to eat a rainbow on my plate. I am usually pretty happy if I get a protein, starch and fruit or veggie incorporated into each meal, but it’s usually a good thing to have lots of color.
3) Learn about healthy foods and try to incorporate as much of those types of foods into your normal eating every day. Here are some links about healthy foods here, here and here. I think its fascinating to learn about types of foods and have found that the more I know about food and what is healthy, the easier it is to incorporate them into my meal plans. One thing that I have found to be important is to not get caught up in healthy food fads. Some of the superfoods can be very pricey and hard to find so I try to incorporate what I can find at reasonable prices.
4) Have lots of fresh fruits and veggies on hand that are ready to eat (oranges, apples, fruit salads, carrot sticks, cut up red peppers.) I have found that if I am hungry and think I want something naughty like chips or cookies if I eat some fruit the craving will usually go away. I also pair the fruit or veggies with my meals instead of chips or crackers.
5) If I can’t pronounce an ingredient in a product I think twice about buying it! I make a very conscious effort to not buy overly processed foods, which is a big part of why I try to make as much things from scratch as often as possible (not to mention it tastes better.) This is also a big reason I LOVE Trader Joe’s.
And then there is chocolate sheet cake:-). This goes right along with the save your calories for something really really good concept – because this is really really good. Many of you are familiar with Pioneer Woman and this one comes straight from her cookbook. If you have never had sheet cake before then I can only describe it as being somewhere between a regular chocolate cake and a frosted brownie. Its light and extremely chocolatey. The buttermilk (which is a favorite baking ingredient of mine) gives it a little tang and moisture. You should have everything in your pantry so you can whip it up without a lot of prior planning and trips to the grocery store for ingredients. This is great for a party because it makes a big batch – or you can give it away to neighbors or co-workers. Enjoy!
2 c AP flour
2 c granulated sugar
1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
4 Tbs (heaping) Cocoa
1/2 lb butter – salted
1 c boiling water
1/2 c buttermilk
2 large eggs – beaten
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp good vanilla
1-3/4 sticks butter
4 Tbs (heaping) cocoa
6 Tbs Milk – I used skim and it was fine
1 tsp vanilla
1 pound confectioners sugar
colored sprinkles – optional
Preheat the oven to 350 and use a jelly roll pan for the cake
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Combine with a whisk to ensure all ingredients are evenly mixed.
In a saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa. Add boiling water and let the water and cocoa mix for 30 seconds or until well incorporated. Pour this over the flour mixture and then allow to cool for a minute.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir this into the cocoa/butter/ Pour into sheet cake pan and bake for 20 minutes.
Make the icing while the cake is baking. Melt butter in a saucepan and then add the cocoa. Once combined, turn off heat. Finally add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir together and then pour over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. Spread evenly. Sprinkle with colored sprinkles while the icing is still warm.
Optionally, you can finely dice about 1/2 cup of pecans and add those. Personally, I love pecans and I think it would probably be great with this, but I know how sometimes people can be funny about adding nuts to things so I left them out. If this wasn’t the only dessert I was serving I probably would have added them.
A note from Becki – I am not a nutrition professional and the ideas shared on this blog are from my own experiences and not to be misconstrued as medical advice.