FIT Hits the PAN Friday – Skinny Blueberry Cheesecake

Let me begin by saying that I am not a great baker. Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake but my recipes don’t always come out how I had hoped. When my husband and I were dating I decided to make a low fat peppermint cheesecake. It looked so bad that my step-daughter cried because she didn’t want to eat it. This cheesecake did not produce the same results! This recipe is so simple and the flavors are wonderful. We all had two slices for dessert! You will have to forgive the photo as I am tuning my food photography skills. Plus, I was trying to hurry because my husband was chomping at the bit to get his hands on this very piece.

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You can find the original recipe here.

INGREDIENTS: 

1/2 cup reduced fat graham cracker crumbs (I used a pre-made reduced fat crust)
1 Tbsp light butter, softened
8-oz pkg reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar (for cheesecake)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
6-oz fat-free plain Greek yogurt
2 large egg whites
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, divided
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, divided
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar (for blueberry sauce)
1 Tbsp cornstarch, mixed with 2 Tbsp cold water
DIRECTIONS:
To make cheesecake:
1. 
Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick spray.2. Mix together graham cracker crumbs and butter with a fork until evenly moistened. Press evenly into bottom of prepared pan.

3. Gently beat cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract until smooth using an electric mixer. Gradually beat in fat free yogurt, egg whites, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and flour until just mixed. Fold in 1 cup fresh blueberries and pour over graham cracker crust.

4. Place the cheesecake pan in a larger baking pan, about 9 x 12 inches with about an inch of water on the bottom to make a water bath. Bake 25 to 28 minutes or until center is almost set and remove. Cool to room temperature. Chill a few hours in the refrigerator.

For the blueberry sauce:
1. While the cheesecake cools, make the sauce: In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the 1 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup of water, 1/3 cup sugar and  1Tbsp lemon juice. Stir frequently, and bring to a low boil.

2. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water.

3. Slowly stir the corn starch into the blueberries, taking care not to crush the blueberries. Simmer until the homemade blueberry sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, about 3 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and gently stir in 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.


To serve,  after cheesecake has chilled, cut into 9 squares and top with blueberry sauce.

Race Countdown – Women’s Half Marathon – 16 weeks

It’s about that time of year again! My mom and I signed up for the Women’s Half Marathon which takes place at the end of November. This is the 4th time we are doing this race (we missed one year because of a cruise). The picture below is from our first time in 2009! The race organizers always do a spectacular job even though the course is really tough. I am hoping the weather is nice this year. Living in Florida, you never know if it will be 70 degrees or 90 degrees in late November. I embarked on my first run of the season on Monday. I felt pretty good but I am Looking forward to some cooler weather so the humidity drops a bit. Image

If anyone else is training, here is a handy 12 week schedule posted by my friends on the Run Like a Girl Facebook page.

For more info on the Women’s Running Series, check out their website.

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Motivational Monday – Unconditional Love

This morning, I finally got back into my Bible study. We are studying the Pentateuch and this morning’s lesson was on Abram and his journey to the Promised Land and his covenant with the Lord. As I was reading, it occurred to me that when God created man, He did so with the intention of us being His companions. He created us with the intention of having a real relationship with us. No matter how poorly we act or how much we mess up, He loves us unconditionally. As humans we find that kind of love difficult to imagine. We put contingencies on our relationships and alter our behavior according to that of the other person’s. What if we gave all we had and expected nothing in return? What would our world look like?

Jeremiah 31:3

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

This week, try giving to someone expecting nothing in return. Give with your whole heart. You may be surprised at the results. 

FIT Hits the PAN Friday – Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup

I purchased a bag of split yellow peas from a local produce market. Having never made anything with split yellow peas, I went searching for recipes and came across this one on the Whole Foods website.  I had leftover sweet potatoes from the Loaded Black Bean Sweet Potato Boats. This recipe is simple and tastes wonderful!

I added a dash of ground nutmeg and garlic salt at the end to kick up the flavor a little. Don’t skip the toasted pumpkin seeds; they are a great addition!

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Photo: WholeFoods.com

Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 8 (I cut the recipe in half)

Ingredients:

8 1/2 cups water

1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

2 cups dried yellow split peas

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Directions:

Bring 1/2 cup water to simmer in a large sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook about 5 minutes or until translucent. Stir in ginger and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add remaining 8 cups water, peas and sweet potato cubes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Uncover and continue to simmer 15 minutes. Carefully purée soup with a hand held immersion blender or in batches in a food processor (I used a Magic Bullet Blender) until smooth and creamy. Garnish with pumpkin seeds.

Nutritional Info:

PER SERVING: 290 calories (50 from fat), 6g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 30mg sodium, 44g carbohydrate (2g dietary fiber, 5g sugar), 18g protein

Natural Foods Glossary

My mom came across this handy pamphlet at our local Publix Supermarket containing key terms we see throughout the grocery store . For those of you without a Publix in your area, I am SO sorry. They are by far one of the best grocery stores in the world (no exaggeration)! When I first started eating healthier, I was not familiar with the terminology being used. This list would have really helped!

Here is a link to the Glossary on their website!

http://www.publix.com/wellness/greenwise/natural/Home.do

TERM DEFINITION
All-Natural Foods These foods are minimally processed and contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Allergy An unusually high sensitivity to normally harmless substances such as pollens, foods, or microorganisms. Common symptoms include sneezing, itching, eye irritation, and rashes.
Antibiotic A substance or drug used to treat infections, originally derived from fungi, bacteria and other organisms. Today, synthetic antibiotics have been produced to accomplish comparable tasks.
Antioxidants Substances, such as beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, which block or inhibit oxidation within cells. Antioxidants may reduce the risks of cancer and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Carbohydrate An organic substance, usually of plant origin with a carbon, hydrogen and oxygen composition, which serves as a major energy source in the diet.
Carcinogens Substances that are capable of inducing cancerous changes in cells and/or tissues.
Cholesterol A crystalline substance found in soluble fat, which serves in the transporting and absorption of fatty acids. However, excess amounts can be a potential health threat.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) Unsaturated fatty acids that are essential for health, but not produced by the body: EFAs are commonly found in cold-pressed oils, particularly in oils extracted from cold-water fish and certain seeds.
Fiber The indigestible portion of plant matter and an important component of a healthy diet. It is capable of binding to toxins and escorting them out of the body.
Free Radical An atom or group of atoms with at least one unpaired electron. Because free radicals are highly reactive, they can alter the chemical structure of cells and may accelerate the progression of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Functional Foods Foods that have been enriched or fortified with vitamins, herbs, or minerals to provide a health benefit beyond the product’s traditional nutrients. For example: orange juice with calcium.
Isoflavones Plant-based compound with estrogen-like properties that are found primarily in soy beans. Isoflavens can act as low-dose estrogens and can also lessen estrogen’s effect on cells and skin layers, possibly reducing the risks of estrogen-related cancers.
Mineral A micro-nutrient that is neither animal- nor plant-based such as calcium, iron, potassium, sodium, and zinc, which is essential to the nutrition of humans, animals, and plants.
Organic Foods The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) strictly enforces proper production of these foods by using the following categories:

  • “100% Organic” products include all organically produced (raw and processed) ingredients (excluding water and salt).  The “100% Organic” label may be used, as may the USDA organic seal.  The organic certifying agent must be identified on the label, as must the seal.
  • USDA Certified Organics are made with 95% or more organic ingredients.  These foods may be labeled as “Organic” and carry the USDA organic seal.  The name of the certifying agent must appear on the label, although the seal is optional.
  • “Made with Organic Ingredients” means foods may include 70-94% organic ingredients.  Up to 3 of these organic ingredients may be listed on the primary display panel, along with the “Made with Organic Ingredients” tag.  The name of the certifying agent must be included; the USDA organic seal can not be used.
  • Foods made with less than 70% organic content can include the organic ingredients on the ingredient label. This term can be found on the information panel on applicable products and identifying ingredients.  It can not be used on the primary display panel, however, and no seals can be used.

Specific requirements to be certified organic vary slightly for different types of livestock, dairy and agricultural producers.

RDA An acronym for Recommended Daily Allowance or Recommended Dietary Allowance. The estimated amount of a nutrient, or calories, per day considered necessary for the maintenance of good health as determined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Saturated Fat A fat that is solid at room temperature. Although most are of animal origin, some like coconut oil and palm oil come from plants. An excess of saturated fats in the diet may raise cholesterol levels in the bloodstream.
Vegan These products are derived solely from plant origin, excluding animal protein (such as meat, eggs, dairy products or honey).
Vegetarian Foods derived from plant sources, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and nuts. May contain some animal protein, usually using egg or dairy products as ingredients.
Vitamin One of a group of organic substances essential in small quantities for life. For the most part, they must be supplied through the diet, since the body does not manufacture them.

FIT Hits the PAN Friday – Loaded Black Bean Sweet Potato Boats

I stared at this recipe for about a week before I got to it and never actually read all the ingredients. I find myself starting recipes without reading through them all the way quite a bit lately…I must get that from my mother :). I did not have any sour cream since we still have not jumped back into eating a lot of dairy, so I topped the potatoes with diced avocado instead. I also substituted shredded low fat Mozzarella for the Manchego. I recommend using the Manchego; the smokiness will provide more flavor to the dish. I plan on making these again the correct way so I can get the full experience! However, even with the substitutions it is a terrific recipe and super easy! Enjoy!

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 50 mins

Loaded sweet potato boats with black beans, manchego cheese, salsa, onion and simple avocado crema.

Author: Minimalist Baker – Check out the rest of this site if you have some time; she is an amazing food photographer!
Recipe type: Entree, Appetizer
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Mexican
Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

  • 5 small sweet potatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ~1/4 cup grated Manchego or other Mexican cheese (such as Cotija or Pepperjack)
  • Avocado crema (1/4 cup light sour cream, 1/2 ripe avocado & lime juice)
  • Fresh Salsa, Cilantro and Green Onion for topping and dipping.

Instructions

  1. Bake sweet potatoes in a 400 degree oven directly on the baking rack for 40-45 minutes or until tender to the touch.
  2. In the meantime, make avocado crema by mixing 1/2 a ripe avocado, 1/4 cup light sour cream and a bit of lime juice until creamy and smooth. Refrigerate until potato boats are ready to serve.
  3. Remove from oven to cool to the touch, but leave oven on.
  4. Carefully cut sweet potatoes in half and scoop out insides to make “boats.” Leave ~ 1/4 – 1/2 inch of flesh so they don’t become too fragile and difficult to handle.
  5. Reserve leftover sweet potato for sweet potato almond butter muffins, or another recipe of your choice.
  6. Place sweet potato boats face up on a baking sheet and fill with black beans and top evenly with grated cheese.
  7. Pop back in oven to warm through and remove when cheese is melted and bubbly.
  8. Remove from oven and arrange on a serving platter. Top with salsa, avocado crema, chopped green onion and fresh cilantro. Additional toppings might include guacamole, hot sauce and lettuce.
  9. Will reheat well the next day or two in the microwave or oven.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 sweet potato boat Calories: 157 Fat: 5 g Carbohydrates: 23 g Sugar: 0 g Sodium: 44 mg Fiber: 4.6 g Protein: 4.8 g