FIT Hits the PAN Friday – Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

Three pumpkins with fall leaves with seasonal background

I LOVE FALL! With the Fall comes pumpkin-flavored EVERYTHING! I am so excited!

It has been awhile since I have baked anything so to get back in the mood, I started with a recipe from one of my favorite sites. Chocolate Covered Katie has delicious recipes that will satisfy any sweet tooth. I hope you enjoy these bars as much as we have (and still are). These bars will be a hit at any get-together you attend this Fall! Enjoy!

pumpkin bars

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

  • 1 1/2 cups spelt or white flour (180g) (Oat flour works; the texture is just a bit denser.)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats (20g)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or date sugar (90g)
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup chocolate chips, depending on how chocolatey you want the bars
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or melted coconut oil (80g)
  • 1/2 cup canned or pureed pumpkin or sweet potato (120g)
  • 2 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract (10g)
  • pinch uncut stevia, or 1 tbsp sugar of choice
  • 3 tbsp pure maple syrup or honey (If strict vegan, don’t use honey.) (45g)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the first 7 ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk all remaining ingredients. Pour wet over dry, and stir to form a batter. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake 25 minutes. They will still look undercooked when you take them out, but this is okay. They continue to cook as they cool. Let cool for 20 minutes, and if they’re not firm enough yet, refrigerate overnight. They will firm up nicely! Makes 15-24 squares, depending on how large you cut them.

Nutrition Info

FIT Hits the PAN Friday – Chicken Tortilla Soup

This recipe from Money Saving Mom was one that I had planned to make for my friend who recently had a baby. I ran out of chicken so I didn’t get to it. We had ground chicken in the freezer so I thought I tried the recipe with that instead. WRONG! There is a reason they use chicken breasts. At the end of the recipe, you remove the chicken and the soup is blended. Ground meat does not blend well. In hindsight, I should have added the meat at the end and it would have been fine. The flavor of the soup was still wonderful in spite of the texture!

tortilla soup, mexican cuisine

Tortilla Soup

Serves 10-12 
Nutrition Info per Serving (without condiments)
Calories 116, Fat 4g, Cholesterol 35mg, Sodium 489mg, Carbs 7g, Sugar 3g, Protein 13g

  • 1 ½ – 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 (24 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed
  • 1 (10 oz) can enchilada sauce
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 (4 oz) can chopped green chile peppers
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Crumbled tortilla chips
  • cream (sour or Mexican)
  • shredded cheese (cheddar or Mexican mix)


Instructions:

  1. Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chiles, garlic, water, chicken bouillon, and spices into slow cooker.
  2. Cover, and cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours
  3. When it’s done remove chicken and shred with 2 forks. The smaller the better since you can’t really cut up your soup.
  4. Tip – once you remove the chicken place the chunky stuff into a blender and blend until smooth. 
  5. To serve, mix in some cream, cheese and tortilla chips.

 

Crock Pot Cooking Made Easy

bigstock-hand-man-chef-cooking-vegetabl-54415118My crock pot has been a life saver on many occasions. Today for example, I was able to throw together a pot of chili that will feed us for several days! A friend of mine recently had a baby and she does not cook very much. I put together crock pot meals for her so she can focus on her sweet newborn.

I use a Hamilton Beach 6 Qt. with a digital timer. My slow cooker is probably 5 years old so they don’t make it anymore, but the link shows the current version. I love the timer and digital display!  

When doing research, be sure the website offers a grocery list to accompany the recipes. It is much easier to plan when you have everything together in one list. If you have a membership to BJ’s, Costco or Sams you can stock up on essentials like meat, canned tomatoes, beans etc. Be sure to check prices at local stores as sometimes grocery store specials can be less expensive than buying in bulk. Produce and farmer’s markets are the best places to get your vegetables. Not only are the prices typically better, the quality is higher since they are usually from local farms. You may find you have a lot of the ingredients already in your pantry! When you are shopping, don’t get sticker shock. Remember that these meals will last you an extended period of time. 

There are dozens of websites dedicated to meal prep for slow cookers. You can find 20 meals in 2 hours, 40 meals in 4 hours and more! Here are a couple of sites to get your started. 

10 Chicken Crock Pot Meals – This is the site I used for the meals I made for my friend. Her recipes are simple and well laid out. Plus, she includes a grocery list which made shopping so much easier! 

12 Freezer Crock Pot Meals – This is the website I am using this weekend to prep more food for my mommy-friend and our family! 

40 Meals in 4 Hours –  For the experienced prepper who is ready to go all out! You can plan your whole month in one day.

Don’t forget Pinterest! There are thousands of freezer prep meals and plans available. The key is to be prepared! Set up stations and of course if you can, get the kids and hubby to help! They can sort, dice, chop and bag the ingredients. 

Let me know which recipes you try and which ones you like the best! 

Enjoy!

Pay it Forward

No-one-has-ever-become-poor-by-givingA couple of weeks ago a story surfaced here in the Tampa Bay area that made its way to the national news outlets about a “Pay it Forward” chain at a Starbucks that spanned over 450 customers. It all started with one woman paying for her coffee as well as the order of the person behind her in line. The trend continued for 10 hours until one woman decided she was not paying for anyone else’s order, she only wanted to pay for hers. Not to be outdone, the chain started back up again shortly thereafter and at last count was up to 750 people. According to the employees at this particular location, this is a common occurrence. It is nice to see people looking out for one another.
When I was younger, I ran into the grocery store to grab a tub of ice cream while my mother waited in the car. The woman in front of me in line paid for my order. I was shocked and so grateful! Since then, I have looked for ways to help other people in a similar fashion. I was given the opportunity once when the debit card of the person in front of me wasn’t working. I asked them to “pay it forward” someday. There is something to be said for helping others when the need arises; not only does it bless them, it also blesses us.
Our days rush by in a blur of meetings, car pool lines, texts and emails. We get so caught up in our own “stuff” that we rarely take a moment to look around and see the many needs in our area. It could be the woman in front of your coffee shop with a sign that reads “Hungry” or the man sitting alone on the park bench every morning on your running route. I think many times we pass them by out of fear or skepticism. We hear stories of homeless or downtrodden people scamming the system so we are conditioned to say things like, “They probably make more than me!” or “They could work if they wanted to.” We don’t want our pride hurt by giving to someone who doesn’t really need help (or we have decided they don’t need our help).
Slow down and pay attention to people; look in their eyes and see them. Talk to them. Take a moment when you hand that person a couple of dollars to find out how they got there. Ask them their story. Your act of kindness could change their life! 

This song by Matthew West, “My Own Little World” sums it up perfectly! 
What if there’s a bigger picture?
What if I’m missing out?
What if there’s a greater purpose?
I could be living right now
Outside my own little world

 

 

FIT Hits the PAN – Cheesy Layered Potatoes

It has been almost two weeks since my last post. Things have been very hectic around here! My best friend had her baby so we were waiting in anticipation of meeting her. I also attended my 20th (yes, I am that old) High School reunion. I would like to diverge a bit before I move on to this week’s recipe. There were several people on our Facebook page posting why they would not go during the months leading up to the event. Of course there were a large group of us who were very excited and looked forward to reuniting with old friends. Some of the excuses were cost (which I understand), scheduling with the start of school year (another reasonable excuse), no sitter, etc.

IMG_0671      IMG_0732

One overwhelming reason we heard for not attending was that high school was not a good experience for them. I want to focus on that for a moment because all of you at some point will be faced the decision of whether or not to attend a reunion (10, 20, 30, etc). There are very few instances where basing your decision to attend any reunion on your experience in high school is valid. People change so much over the years and most of them change for good. I was not “popular” but I enjoyed my group of friends in high school and was friendly with the people I didn’t know. The best part about our reunion was that everyone was happy to see each other regardless of the crowd they were in all those years ago. It was one of the best nights I have had in a very long time. I look forward to cultivating the friendships that were made. In case you were wondering, the people who were not planning on going who decided to attend had a wonderful time!

On to today’s recipe!

Cheesy Layered Potatoes
Serves 6-8
Nutrition Info
122 calories/6g fat/7g protein/11g carbs/19mg cholesterol/1g sugar/1g fiber

I created this recipe because I had a potato that needed to be used as soon as possible. My husband loves scalloped potatoes. Personally, I am not a fan but these are pretty good. I love cheese so how bad could they be? ;)
P1130996

Ingredients

  • 1 large baking potato (1/8 inch thick slices)
    • I used a mandolin and I left the skin on for vitamins
  • 1/4 c. fat free plain yogurt
  • 3/4 c. part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

P1130999

Directions

  • Pre-heat oven to 375° F
  • Coat 8 x 8 pan with non-stick cooking spray or blush with olive oil
  • Add one layer of potato slices to the bottom of pan
  • Sprinkle with 1 tsp. each of onion powder, garlic powder and Italian seasoning
  • Spread 1/4 c. of ricotta cheese over potatoes
  • Drizzle 1/2 the yogurt over ricotta
  • Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheddar cheese on top
  • Repeat the process
  • Top the second layer with the parmesan cheese
  • Cover with tin foil and bake for one hour
  • Remove from oven and serve!

This dish would be great with steak or pork chops!