Recipes

No-Bake Chocolate Eclair (Cheat) Cake

It rhymesSmile

I made this beauty of a cake last night to take to a friend’s for dinner tonight. This is my all-time favorite dessert to make and take to other’s houses. It is VERY hard to mess up, even if you are like me and add all the wet ingredients at once instead of in order (you’ll see). It also takes about 10-15 minutes total to make, and that includes clean up! There is no baking with this cake, but you do have to let it sit overnight, so a little bit of planning required. AND, it is a crowd pleaser! You know the feeling when people around the table just can’t stop complimenting you on your dessert? THIS is THAT item.

cake piece

This was something that my meemaw made when I was younger. My sister could finish an entire cake herself, it was our favorite and is still a family favorite. I believe the only thing that I do differently from her is that I cheat on the chocolate icing – just makes it that much simpler. Enjoy and don’t wait too long to try!!

cheat cake.jpgcake 1

1. Take your two boxes of pudding mix and combine them with the 3 cups of milk. I used 1% milk. Mix and beat this well. If you accidentally add the cool whip right away the cake is forgiving and everything will be okay:)

Cake 2

2. Open your graham crackers and make a single layer on the bottom of a cake pan. You will have to break some lengthwise to place along the edges of the pan as the crackers don’t quite fit in whole pieces.

3. On top of the graham cracker layer, spread with a spatula, half of your pudding mixture. You will then make another layer of graham crackers, same method, now you have two layers of graham crackers and one pudding layer in between.

Cake 4

4. Add the rest of the pudding mixture and another layer of graham crackers. You will end with 3 layers of graham crackers and two layers of pudding.

5. This next part is the cheating part. Some recipes have you make icing from scratch, however, I use store-bought chocolate icing and heat it up in the microwave to make it soft and spreadable. If you are a bit uneasy about microwaving plastic, scoop it out into a glass bowl. I put mine in the microwave for 30 seconds and then an additional 10 seconds. Stir the icing and then spread on top of the cake, covering all of the graham cracker.

cake6

6. I always make mine the night before I need it. I would guess that it needs at least 5-6 hours in the fridge. The graham crackers need to soften so that the cake cuts easily. The cake will last for a few days in the fridge after serving. The graham crackers will just continue to break down. My husband doesn’t like the cake on the 4th or 5th day because of this. For the same reason, this cake can be frozen, but things come out a bit mushy.

cake7

7. I hope you enjoy!

 

cake recipe

Recipes

Coconut Date Balls

Its Friday!!! I have a recipe to review with you all today. I also feel that for a Thursday, I accomplished quite a bit. Or maybe I just took a lot of pictures when I got home. Which, for me – a person who usually shoves food into her mouth and mid-chew I realize that I meant to photograph all of the steps that I took to make the food that I no longer have…would be a success!!

I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t planning on being productive today. I was going to go out with some coworkers after work. However when I got home and saw that the sun was shining I bailed on those plans. No worries, I was confident that I wouldn’t be missed. I am kind of a home-body and definitely an introvert so I blame those tendencies whenever I just chose to spend time with myself.

So the sun was out and high in the sky and yes, it was a bit chilly, but the sun hasn’t been out like this in Pittsburgh allll week, so I decided to take an outdoor run. Before that , I put together a crock-pot meal with ingredients from my pantry that I am trying to use up. I had refried beans, corn, broth, diced tomatoes, black beans, and I had precooked chicken in the fridge. Perfect ingredients for some shredded mexican chicken soup eh? I added, with a heavy hand, chili powder, some garlic and onion powder, and pepper and salt. I am writing this on Thursday night my crock pot soup is not done yet…I mistakenly thought that my crock pot would cook quicker. So now I will have soup for the weekend! I’ll let you know how it tastes but in my opinion, you can’t go wrong with the combined ingredients.

Chicken soup crock pot dinnerAfter I put the soup on I hopped in the car and drove down the hill to the riverside trail in Southside. The sun was definitely still shining but I encountered a head wind right away and I didn’t bring a headband or a hat….I was therefore very cold on the first leg of my trip and only slightly better when I turned around and didn’t have 37 degree wind blowing in my face. I still think that I enjoyed the run because the city looked beautiful and I really wanted to remember this moment when I am away in Lebanon.

cold run 1

Just a beautiful running trail, even prettier in the summer when the trees have leaves!

cold run 2

This is the only face that I could make when I got back in the car 30 minutes later. My ears were throbbing and I was making groaning noises and complaining about the cold…maybe a little dramatic, but seriously, it is mid March!

I'm cold

After the cold run I stopped by the grocery store to gather items for a recipe that I plan to make during the Pittsburgh Farm to Table conference next week. I will be talking about Nutrition and Liver Health. I wanted to pick a recipe that was a naturally high protein source for individuals who need extra calories and protein due to liver disease. I came across my recipe in a Food and Nutrition Magazine (by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics). I know that these tasty snacks are not anything new, however they typically call for a protein powder. This one does not but still has 280 calories and 8 grams of protein per serving. Yes they are high in calories, hence why I am making them for individuals with liver disease. I would caution eating too many of them if you already get plenty of calories from your meals. For snacks I like to stick to 100-200 calories and only if I am hungry. A good serving for these then would be just one ball, which I think you can be satisfied after eating just one, they have a lot of flavor!

Rolled balls

Here are the ingredients that I used for my recipe, not pictured, Vanilla Greek Yogurt. I was supposed to use Siggi’s but I forgot to get it at the store!! I was also supposed to buy dates without added sugar and I made the mistake of assuming those didn’t have sugar. So my end product was a little sweeter than it should be!

balls recipe

             rolled unfinished ballscoated ballsball close up

The ingredients were expensive to buy in total: $40 ish dollars, however I didn’t use everything for just this one recipe, but if you don’t have these items at home, just a heads up! They blended well in the food processor and didn’t take long overall. Like I said, they were a little sweeter than should be but definitely still tasty. I think that they are also perfect size for a crowd to sample next week. I look forward to making them in a larger amount next time with the correct yogurt and unsweetened dates.

Question of the day: What is your favorite go-to snack?

~Meghan

Recipes

Nachos with a Twist

Hey guys! How are you all doing? I have some exciting news! Zach got his visa for Lebanon and will be leaving on Saturday. Please keep him in your prayers (and me too), we can’t believe this is real!

Yesterday was also the first day of National Nutrition Month. I handed out samples (sorry, forgot to snap a pic:/) of Greek Quinoa Super Food Salad! See the recipe below and try it yourself at home!

I was having a little bit of a hard time yesterday after realizing that our life was about to drastically change. I stopped by Starbucks for a plain latte – I was feeling like Donna and Tom in Parks N Rec, “treat yo self.”

coffee

The title of this post is a new recipe, named by Zach. He came home yesterday, looked at the plate that I had made up for him and said, “hmmm, are these nachos with a twist?” And so we have our recipe name! A couple things about us and nachos. There is this place close to where we live, La Palapa, where they make THE BEST nachos (see pic below). They make their own tortilla chips, add on shredded chicken, tomatoes, lettuce, salsa, cheese, guac, queso fresco, and more. While this isn’t the best picture, trust me, they are the best nachos that I have ever had. They have also made Zach and I hungry for a batch of nachos a couple times a month.

amazing nachos.jpg
La Palapa’s Amazing Nachos!

 

nachos-with-a-twist
Our dinner last night, Nachos with a Twist!

 

I have fooled around with my own nacho recipe and finally landed on something that was both delicious and dietitian approved. Instead of using all tortilla chips (loads of sodium and the calories get pretty high too), I used 1/4 tortilla chips and 3/4 mini sweet bell pepper. Pair with a square of cornbread and 1/2 a plate-full of salad and you have a rounded out meal with 3 servings of vegetables! Here is the perfected recipe! An original!

Nachos with a Twist

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 lb ground turkey (can easily substitute black beans for vegetarian protein)
  • 1 packed low-sodium, no msg taco seasoning
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 4 baby bella mushrooms, diced
  • 5 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 21 mini sweet bell peppers, I used an entire package from Aldi, sliced in half
  • 10-12 tortilla chips, I used the dipper type

Directions:

  1. Brown turkey in a skillet. Add taco seasoning with 1/2 cup water, stir until mixed in and keep on low heat until water has absorbed.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Spray a pan with cooking spray and lay out peppers and tortilla chips.
  4. Place a 1 tsp of quinoa in each pepper half and chip.
  5. Do the same with the ground turkey, distribute evenly in each pepper or chip.
  6. Spread tomatoes, mushrooms, and red onion over the nachos, put cheese on top.
  7. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and all ingredients are warm.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 387 – Carbohydrates: 22 grams – Total Fat: 14.6 grams – Protein: 38.6 grams

dinner

We paired our nachos with a square of cornbread and half a plate of salad (tomatoes, red onion, goat cheese, Italian dressing).

Greek Grain Super Food Salad

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/8 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped kale
  • 1/8 cup roasted red pepper strips
  • 1/8 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/8 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/8 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/8 cup diced cauliflower florets
  • 1/8 cup diced green peppers
  • 2 Tbsp Greek dressing
  • 1 Tbsp Feta cheese
  • 1/2 squeezed lemon

Directions:

  1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions and chop vegetables.
  2. Mix dressing with feta cheese
  3. Combine quinoa, vegetables, and dressing mix in bowl.
  4. Top with freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 383 – Total Fat: 17 grams – Carbohydrates: 48 grams – Protein: 7 grams

It was another busy day for the two of us! T-minus 2 days until Zach ships out! (sob!) I have been taking my workouts this week a bit more loosely, getting them in when I have time and making sure I am at home 100% of the time when Zach is also there. Tonight we are making his favorite burgers as one of the last meals that he will have in our Pittsburgh home. Recipe to come!

~Meghan

 

RD Advice, Recipes

Your Virtual Nutrition Booth

Good morning and happy National Nutrition Month!!! To celebrate, I made chocolate peanut butter overnight oatmeal last night to eat this morning for breakfast – it was delicious! It’s been quite some time since I made overnight oatmeal and I appreciated having something new to eat, I have been in quite the breakfast rut.

oats

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Overnight Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup plain oatmeal (quick or whole oats)
  • 1 cup almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla, 30 calories)
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter (adds some sweetness)
  • 1 Tbsp chocolate chips
  • 1/2 sliced banana

Directions:

  1. Mix all together except for the banana, cover and place in the fridge overnight.
  2. Enjoy in the morning with sliced banana and coffee!

*This makes a hefty serving, try using 1/3 cup oats and 2/3 cup milk with a little less of the other ingredients to make an amount you can finish. I could not finish the last 5 bites or so because I was stuffed!

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 500 – Total Fat: 23.5 grams – Total Carbohydrates: 63.5 grams – Protein: 13.5 grams

Never heard of National Nutrition Month before? NNM was created and is sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Click here to read more about NNM in this great article: http://www.eatrightpro.org/resource/media/press-releases/national-nutrition-month/academy-encourages-everyone-to-put-your-best-fork-forward

The theme of this year’s NNM is “Put Your Best Fork Forward.”This statement can mean several things, but the Academy really wants to emphasize small changes that help you work towards a better dietary lifestyle. Here is what small changes you can do today to start moving towards a healthier lifestyle that will protect you as you age and give you energy for today:

  1. Eat three meals a day, limit snacking
  2. Eat 5 servings of fruits + vegetables per day
  3. Include foods from at least 3 food groups when you eat your meals (fruits, vegetable, grains, protein, dairy)
  4. Select only calorie-free beverages
  5. Limit your intake of high sugar foods and drinks
  6. Read food labels to see calories per serving size
  7. Avoid yo-yo dieting and severly restricted diets
  8. Limit your alcohol intake to 1 drink a day for women and 2 a day for men (Love your liver!)
  9. Select mostly whole grains (what is a whole grain?) for a high fiber diet!
  10. Meal your meals ahead of time to avoid impulsive food choices
  11. Limit your intake of high fat and deep-fried foods (love your heart!)
  12. Discover stress-reducing activities that do not include eating. For example yoga, exercise, reading, knitting, blogging:)

What will I be doing to celebrate National Nutrition Month? I have a couple of things lined up. Today I will be manning a nutrition booth outside our hospital’s cafeteria. I will be handing out samples of a quinoa bowl (recipe to come tomorrow with pictures), brochures on various topics regarding vegetarian nutrition, and entering participants who try the recipe into a raffle to win either a vegetarian cookbook or yoga kit. I am lucky to be a part of a larger group of RDs who organized this event.

Because you can’t be with me today I wanted to put together some of my favorite nutrition resources that I use with my clients on a daily basis. I do not take credit for the creation of these materials (no good recreating the wheel) however I do stand behind the information that they provide.

Your Virtual Nutrition Booth

Let me know if you have any trouble accessing the files or need any further explanation!

Happy NNM!

~Meghan

 

 

Recipes

Veggie Stir-Fry Scramble

Good afternoon folks and happy Friday! I am so happy that I was able to share our news about the move with you all! Now I can let you into just how excited and antsy we are to get to the point where both of us are settled into our flat in Lebanon. The next week is going to be quite crazy for us, especially because we decided to take a trip to Niagara Falls this weekend because we live so close and we wanted to get away from the busy-ness of our lives.

We have had a lot of chances to say goodbye to friends and family. This was part of the reason why we had Zach’s family over last weekend. For Christmas we flew to Montana to see my mom and stepdad and sister, brother-in-law and little niece. We have also met up with most of our close friends, Zach said goodbye to some of our Pittsburgh friends last night. I said see-ya later as I will be at their place weekly when Zach is gone 🙂 I don’t think either of us feels like it is real yet. When I start to think about the reality of the change I panic a little bit inside. But I know this was supposed to happen for us at this point in time and I truly believe in the organization’s cause. So I pray for flexibility, perseverance with the move, and faith that this will be a smooth transition.

I have done quite a bit of reading and researching about Lebanon. From what I have learned things are a bit more expensive over there than the US. Zach and I looked up memberships to gyms in the area and we didn’t find anything that we could manage on a volunteer stipend. Good thing we are runners! Zach found out that there is a Beirut Marathon…looks like we will be certainly be doing that while we are there. I am also planning on becoming much better at body weight workouts and workouts that utilize resistance bands.

To prepare for this, I’m hoping to put together a good collection of body weight workouts from the great personal trainers that have blogs. First one I would like to try is from Sweet & Strong. So this is what I will be doing while we are at the hotel – I’ll let you know how it goes!

Amidst the craziness here I am still try to make sure we have great meals and that we aren’t eating out too often or resorting to frozen pizza more than once every other week. I try do this by planning ahead and prepping when I have spare time. When I don’t do this I typically resort to a vegetable stir fry with quick-cooking brown rice or quinoa on the side, something like this:

veggie-stir-fry-scramble

Stir-Fry Veggie Scramble

Time from start to finish – 30 minutes

Makes 4 servings

2 cups cooked brown rice, I use quick-cooking for time purposes

3 gloves garlic, minced

2 large carrots, coined

1 bell pepper, diced

1 package baby bella mushrooms, de-stemmed and sliced

2 cups kale, de-stemmed and torn into smaller pieces (I was running low on this ingredient)

1 can Northern White Beans or any other can of bean you have in stock

2 eggs

1 cup left-over caramelized onions, see note below

1-2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 cup broth, vegetable or chicken

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Goat cheese crumbles, optional

Directions:

  1. Cook the brown rice according to package directions. While the rice is cooking, heat up olive oil in skillet and throw in your carrots and garlic, cook for 5-6 minutes on medium-high heat, you want to give the carrots a chance to soften a little. Season the pan with some sea salt and pepper at this time.
  2. Throw in your bell pepper and mushrooms, cook for another 5-6 minutes, then add caramelized onions, beans, kale, and broth, lightly season once more.
  3. Cook mixture on medium, stirring every few minutes to prevent sticking to the pan, until liquid has simmered off. Add the cooked rice, stir to combine.
  4. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl, add these to the rice and vegetable mixture. Cook mixture on medium until eggs are cooked and everything looks a bit drier.
  5. Dish up and top with goat cheese – you can experiment with other cheeses if you like to see what suits you the best.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 365 – Fat: 12.8 grams – Carbohydrates: 45.7 grams – Protein: 15.2 grams

I am working on finding the correct way to format recipes, photos, workouts, etc. Please bear with me while I decide on the tools that I want to use and learn how to use them!

Question for you:

Do you have any small fitness tools that you can recommend for me to buy to take overseas? I have a few different resistance bands right now but I am thinking that there may be more that I am not thinking of, please, share with the blog!

 

Recipes

Strawberry Quinoa Breakfast Bars

Happy Friday!

 

Wow, the weekend is here! Zach, kitty, and I are looking forward to family time this weekend. Zach has three siblings, two brothers and a sister. They will all be coming along with my sister-in-law and almost sister-in-law. So we will have a full house:) We usually like to get together every couple of months and it usually isn’t a problem for all parties to drive an hour or so to the meeting place. Our family is all driving further this time, out to Pittsburgh, so this weekend feels extra special.

 

I have already planned the menu for the weekend and just finished up the grocery shopping last week. I am amazed every time that I go to Aldi how much I can get with the money that I spend. It occurred to me to take a picture of all the food that I purchased last night but then I got side-tracked and started making dinner. I will be sure to do this in the future. I have a not-so-secret goal to try to get everyone to convert from pricey stores like Whole Foods and even the local grocery store in our area, Giant Eagle, to Aldi and Trader Joes. Personally, I live five minutes away from an Aldi, so I get everything from there. I am not a big red meat eater so their selection of meat (and now fresh fish) is good enough for me. I also get my paper towels, toilet paper, and tissues there. I think that between Aldi and Costco, we end up saving hundreds of dollars each year on groceries. Zach and I have a goal of spending around $60 per week on groceries (not including eating out), I try to stick to this as much as possible and I am usually right on track.

Here’s my menu for this weekend, with links to the recipes that I will be using. All found on Pinterest!

How about a recipe review for you this Friday? Yesterday I was trying to figure out what to make with some extra cooked quinoa I had in my fridge (I do not like to ever throw out food). I found this recipe with a quick online search and had great success with it last night!

 

Strawberry Quinoa Breakfast Bars – compliments of My Fussy Eater

Time to prepare: 5-7 minutes. Time to cook: 25 minutes. Total: 30-ish minutes.

Servings: 9, I made 12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 1/4 cup raisins (I used chocolate chips because I was out of raisins)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350. Spray a small pan with cooking oil. I used a small cake pan, you can use a 9×9 inch, just not a full-size cake pan, unless you double the recipe, which you may want to do because these are so delicious!
  2. Mash the bananas and add the eggs and vanilla to the bowl. Mix.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until mixed.
  4. Pour into prepared dish and bake for 20-25 minutes. I think that I took them out of the oven too early because they are pretty moist. Next time around I will bake for the full 25 minutes so as to have a drier bar.
  5. Cut into bars and enjoy for breakfast or a snack.

Nutrition Information:

144 calories per bar – 2.8 grams fat – 25 carbohydrates – 5.2 grams of protein

breakfast-bar-mix
Look at all those fresh and fun ingredients!
breakfast-bar
The finished product – success!

 

Have a great weekend everyone! Come visit me on Monday for another new post!

~Meghan