Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

6 Healthy Snacks to Start the New Year Right!

Now that the holidays are over, and January is the month for fresh starts and resolutions, I thought it appropriate to share 6 Healthy Snacks to Start the New Year Right! I don’t know about you guys, but I indulged way too much over the holidays, and I need a reboot. Try these healthy, easy, and incredibly delicious snacks to jump start a healthy new you. If you’re not into being healthy, they’re just plain good – and they just happen to be good FOR you.

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Eggplant Pizza

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Infused Water

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Apple Chips

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2 Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins

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2 Ingredient Strawberry-Banana Ice Cream

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Healthy Homemade Potato Chips

 

 

 

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2 Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Muffins

In keeping with my pumpkin theme (into November), today I’m sharing a recipe for 2 Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Muffins. Recipes like this are all over Pinterest these days (as I well know from my 2 week-on-the-couch-pinning-frenzy). This is THE EASIEST recipe ever – not even kidding!!! 2 ingredients, that’s it! I love recipes like this, and I know Grandma would have, too – they’re so interesting. Who figures these things out? Someone with unlimited funds and an awful lot of time on their hands? Maybe it’s not really that hard to do. Who cares?! The point is – they’re delicious! This particular recipe came from a member on Weight Watchers Connect (their Facebook type thing on the app), so it’s a bit healthier than most. There is some sugar from the mix, but no fat because you use the pumpkin puree instead. Simple dimple.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

2 Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Mix together:

1 box of cake mix (I used Spice Cake Mix)

1 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree

Bake at 350 degrees for  20 minutes.

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I mean seriously, you just mix the cake mix and the pumpkin puree – done. I’m sure you could add raisins or chopped apples or nuts to these, too.

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This makes a nice, thick batter. Into the liners and that’s it.

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I tried to get 24 muffins out of this, but I only got 22. Even though I want to be good and only have 1 at a time, when you make them this small, that’s really hard!

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A little secret about these muffins – try to wait and eat them the next day. They come out of the liners better and the flavor is better.

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These little hummers are delicious. They’re spicy and pumpkin-y and so, so good!

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I just can’t believe how ridiculous these are: ridiculously easy, ridiculously good, ridiculously perfect for this time of year! They’re perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack. Make up a batch today – no, wait – make a double batch because they’re going to go fast and you’re just going to have to make more anyway.

 

 

 

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Warm Pumpkin Spice Drink

I love Halloween. I always have. I love the old-fashioned black and orange decorations of flying witches, scary pumpkins, and jointed limbed skeletons. I love the costumes, as Lucy says in It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, “in direct contrast to her own personality” to dress up in and hide behind. I love the crispy sound of dry, colored leaves blowing and tumbling along the street. I love the eventual stark and empty tree branches silhouetted against a cloudy and misty sky. I love the fields full of haphazard pumpkins and gourds on their drying, twisting vines. I love the smell of a burning pile of leaves raked up and out of the yard by the family on the golden afternoons in October. I love the kids as they ring the doorbell, so proud to show off their costumes and shout the customary “trick-or-treat!”, running through the neighborhood and ruling the world.

You can see the beginnings of my love for Halloween in this photo from 1963. I started young. I wasn’t quite 2 years old, but totally ready for Halloween and trick or treating at my Grandma and Gramp’s house! By the reach of that hand trying to get the door open, you’d almost think I knew that there was candy inside there! Ha!

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I wish I still had the 101 Dalmatians costume!! That trick-or-treat bag is almost as big as me!

My love of Halloween is equal to my love of pumpkin. The recipe for today is one of those pumpkin recipes that I found when I was sick and on the couch and spending way too much time on Pinterest. There are so many interesting things to make with pumpkin out there now, and as you can tell by my latest posts, I am determined to try as many as possible this fall. I am always on the lookout for a warm beverage to cozy up with and enjoy in the evening, so I don’t like it to be caffeinated and I don’t like it to have too much sugar in it. This one does the trick. I found this delicious Warm Pumpkin Spice Drink on the blog Apple of My Eye, and this was one I had to try.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Warm Pumpkin Spice Drink

2 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk or milk of your choice

2 Tablespoons pumpkin puree (I used my frozen pumpkin stash)

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

whipped cream for topping

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This drink really doesn’t have very many ingredients, but man is this good!

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I warmed it (I wouldn’t bring it to a boil) on the stove instead of the microwave.

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You can leave it plain, but I’m always one to gild the lily when I can, so I topped mine with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I suppose if you really wanted to, you could add a splash of your favorite adult beverage to this.

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Kids would love this drink, especially this weekend before Halloween. Maybe this would be nice after a tough evening of trick-or-treating. I think adults would like this delicious drink curled up in front a roaring fire, in your jammies, wrapped in your favorite quilt. Just enjoy the warm deliciousness and drift off to sleepy land. Nothing more cozy than that! How are you going to enjoy this warm cup of coziness?

 

 

 

 

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Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

It’s October and we’re heavy into fall right now. This is the time for pumpkin everything. I was perusing Pinterest a few weeks ago when I was under the weather, and I found a lot of interesting pumpkin recipes. I felt like trying a few, and this was one of them. This recipe for a Pumpkin Pie Smoothie was on a blog called Shugary Sweets and you can find the original here. It’s a pretty healthy treat and a great snack. You could even have it for breakfast and add some protein powder if you like (as suggested by the blog where I found this recipe). Let’s give it a try.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt

1 large banana

3 Tablespoons Milk

1 teaspoon agave or honey

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

4 ice cubes

1 scoop vanilla protein powder, if desired

Put all ingredients into the blender and blend.

Top with whipped topping and sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg.

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There aren’t a lot of ingredients in this smoothie, but it sure is tasty.

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It all goes into my good old 35 year old blender . . .

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and give it a whiz!

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Oh wow. This smoothie is so pretty, so good, and so good for you! Whip up one of these today and take it outside to enjoy the fall, all of those short-lived colored leaves, and the taste of pumpkin pie!

 

 

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Healthy Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Muffins – Sort Of

After the 6th day of the worst head cold known to man, making a permanent indentation on my couch, and pinning an incredible number of great ideas on Pinterest, I was going stir-crazy and it was time to get off the couch and make something. If that something happens to be good for me and is a great accompaniment to my daily gallon of tea or other warm beverage for my throat, all the better.

Have you noticed that people are obsessed with the pumpkin spice thing? I decided to try a recipe of my own. Well, using one that I already have, of course. A very good one. I reinvented the Oatmeal Muffin recipe of Grandma’s (one of my all-time favorites) using some of the huge stash of frozen pumpkin puree that I still have in my freezer. I just added pumpkin instead of butter in the muffins, and added the obligatory pumpkin pie spice. These Healthy Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Muffins didn’t turn out too bad, if I do say so myself. Oh yeah, and I’m calling them healthy, sort of, because of the lack of butter. There’s still plenty of sugar and sour cream in these. That’s why they’re only sort of healthy.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Muffins

2 cups oatmeal (plus extra for the top of the muffins)

2 cups sour cream

2/3 cup pumpkin puree

4 eggs

2 cups light brown sugar, packed

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Combine oats and sour cream.

Stir in pumpkin, egg, and brown sugar until well mixed.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.

Stir into oat mixture just until blended.

You can add 1/2 to 1 cup raisins to these – for a little added healthiness.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

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The pumpkin puree is a great substitute for butter. You really can’t tell the difference.

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I like to add the raisins, but you don’t have to.

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I don’t know why I had these gigantic cupcake papers, but they worked just fine. When I filled them, I used a 1/4 cup measure. A sprinkle of oats on top and they’re ready for the oven.

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They’re delicious and smell amazing!

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You can see by the color that they’ve got pumpkin and spice in them. The oats add a little extra crunch on top.

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Yes – these muffins are really good and go well with tea or any other warm beverage you like. I have to say they turned out pretty well – they’re really good and really tasty. Make a batch of these and join in the pumpkin spice trend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eggplant Pizza

My family loves pizza! We’ve been trying to eat healthier and one day I was trying to figure out how to have pizza without the crust. I wanted this option to be simple, and while we all LOVE pizza crust, I wanted to find something that was easy but tasty. I thought of eggplant, but since I’m not too familiar with cooking eggplant, I went online to see if there were any recipes as to how to actually do this. I found a recipe on EatGood4Life.com and used that as inspiration. You can find that original recipe here. Her idea of using these little pizzas on a sandwich is very intriguing – I HAVE to try that sometime when and if there are ever any left. I changed that recipe a little bit to kind of be my own and ended up with this Eggplant Pizza. You seriously will NOT miss the crust on these. They’re so delicious – just like regular pizza!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Eggplant Pizza

Slice an eggplant (or two depending on how many people are having these) 1/2″ thick.

Sprinkle with salt and bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and turn on the broiler.

Top each slice of eggplant with tomato sauce and proceed to make your pizza.

We just make pizza like we would if we were using a crust.

Put on your seasoning: dried oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes – whatever you like.

Next put on toppings and then top with shredded mozzarella – everyone has their own way to make pizza the way they like it. I use: sliced mushrooms, sliced black olives, sliced onion, sliced or chopped red or green peppers, pepperoni, cooked sausage, ham (with pineapple).

Just make the little pizzas the way you want them and then put them under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is melted (I like my pepperoni on top above the cheese to make it crispy – that’s just me!).

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I don’t peel the eggplant, but if you don’t like the skin, go ahead and peel it first.

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Baking the eggplant first helps them be just the right consistency for pizza crust.

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On with the tomato sauce, seasonings, and toppings.

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Sometimes it’s hard to fit all the toppings that I want on my pizza! It WILL all fit – I promise – and they come out of the oven so beautiful and delicious!

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Glorious. I mean seriously, how pretty is this?!!!

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I added a little sprinkle of parmesan cheese, more dried oregano, and red pepper flakes to mine. You really won’t miss the crust on these little beauties.

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Try this interesting way of making pizza without crust. I have also done it on Portobello mushrooms and zucchini boats, but this is my family’s favorite. It’s fast food – just bake the eggplant while you get the toppings ready and before you know it – they’re done! I mean, who doesn’t love pizza, and if you can save a few calories in the process? Winner.

 

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2 Ingredient Strawberry-Banana Ice Cream

You make this Strawberry-Banana Ice Cream with two ingredients, that’s it. Frozen strawberries and frozen bananas. When you end up with those bananas that get to the point of not great for eating anymore, just peel them, cut them into chunks, and put them in the freezer. They will turn brown if left in there too long, so use them up as quickly as you can. Not that I have experience with that or anything. I mean, I did finally figure out what those black blobs in the zip top bag were. I guess maybe they had been in there a bit too long. I usually cut or break the bananas into 3 or 4 pieces before putting them into a zip top freezer bag and putting them into the freezer for smoothies or ice cream. I guess it might be a good idea to label the bag so you know what’s in there in future.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Strawberry-Banana Ice Cream

There really isn’t much of a recipe for this.

Pulse in food processor until smooth and combined:

2 cups frozen strawberries

2 cups frozen bananas

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I used the pretty little local strawberries for this ice cream.

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They all go into the food processor.

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I give them a few pulses, just to get things going, then let it go until the mixture is smooth.

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You can eat it right away and there it is – soft serve!

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Or you can put it into the freezer for a couple of hours to firm it up more.

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When leaving it in the freezer for a longer period, I let it sit out for about 10-15 minutes before trying to scoop it. I’ve also tried this with raspberries and bananas, bananas and cocoa, and just bananas. It’s so good and good for you! Just pure fruit and nothing else. The perfect summertime treat!

 

 

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Infused Water

Just in time for summer, here’s a great way to keep you hydrated. Very few of us drink as much water as we should, and this is a way to make it easier. Using fruit in your water is so beautiful and so tasty, you’ll want to make sure you get ALL of your 6-8 glasses in a day. I’m not into detoxify this and flush that, I just know that I feel better and my brain works better when I get all of my water in. There are many, many, many recipes for this water all over the internet, but I tried 5 different kinds of Infused Water. Now I can’t decide which is my favorite. You’ll want to try them all, too!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Infused Water

You can make a pitcher of water at a time (or just a glass at a time) and let it sit overnight so the fruit can really make the water tasty.

Put 1 cup fruit or berries into a water pitcher or container.

Muddle, if desired, with a muddler or handle of a wooden spoon.

Let sit overnight.

The next morning, add ice and you’re ready to go with your daily water intake – and it’s tasty!

Here are the different kinds of fruit combinations I tried:

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Raspberry Lime

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Blueberry Lemon

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Pineapple Mint

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Citrus with Lemon, Lime, and Orange

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Strawberry Lemon

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Fill your glass with ice and the fruity water and let the hydrating begin!

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Try mixing and matching your favorites – the possibilities are endless.

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Hot weather is upon us and being dehydrated is not good. Water is good for your brain, for your digestion, and for your overall health. Plus – it’s pretty in the glass!!! Let’s be healthy, let’s be hydrated, and let’s do it together! Bottoms up!!

 

 

 

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Apple Chips

I’m sharing another healthy and very easy to make snack today. We’re trying to be more natural and chemical free in our family – even more than usual! I love to make these Apple Chips when I know I’m going to be home for an entire morning or afternoon. They take some time, but are so worth it in the end. When you go to buy dried fruit or chips in the store, they’re always made with sugar and other chemicals you can hardly pronounce. These are all natural, made with only fruit and cinnamon.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Apple Chips

3-4 apples, or enough to fill two baking sheets

cinnamon

Slice the apples very thin – preferably on a mandolin.

Lay the slices out on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle with cinnamon (you can also sprinkle with a bit of sugar or sugar-free sweetener, but I never do – I don’t think they need it).

Turn over and sprinkle the other side, if desired.

Bake at 200 degrees for 2 1/2 hours, turning over after one hour.

Turn off oven and let them sit in oven for 1/2 hour – this last half hour makes them even more crispy like chips.

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I use a mandolin, because I could NEVER get the slices thin enough with a knife.

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Parchment helps the slices not stick to the baking sheet. Experiment with different fruit like pears, and different spices like nutmeg or ginger. I try to fill two baking sheets with apple slices so I can do as many at a time as I can fit in the oven.

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This is what the apple slices look like after the first hour.

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After they finish baking, they really do look like chips!

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These are delicious, and so good for you! It takes 3 hours of your time, but they’re so worth it. They’re crispy and a lot of fun. This would be great to do with kids – they get to make their own chips and then have the fun of eating them!

 

 

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Healthy Homemade Potato Chips

You know how sometimes you just want a little snack, but there’s nothing in the house, and you don’t want to head out into the 0 degree windchill to get anything? Well, today I’m sharing a salty snack that you can make in a few minutes, that’s actually healthy and good for you, and you can do it in the comfort of your own home! Did you know that you can make potato chips at home in your microwave? You can! And it’s easy!! You’ll want to try these Healthy Homemade Potato Chips today!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Healthy Homemade Potato Chips

1 potato, scrubbed ( you can also use sweet potatoes, beets, or carrots – I leave the peel on but you could take it off)

olive oil mister

salt or seasonings

Put 2 or 3 layers of paper towel onto a microwave safe plate (I used a dinner plate size) and set aside.

Cut  potato or other vegetable about 1/16″ thick.

Lay slices on paper towels on plate in a single layer.

Mist with olive oil.

Sprinkle with salt and/or seasonings.

Microwave 2-3 minutes, turn slices over (I used a tongs for this) and microwave another 2-3 minutes, mist again with olive oil and season again if desired, keep cooking in microwave a minute at a time until crisp and dry. My microwave took one 3 minutes cycle, I turned them and cooked another 3 minutes, and then an additional 2 minutes to get them brown and dry.

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This mandolin doesn’t make the slices incredibly thin, but thin enough to make these chips just right. You could just use a knife and try to get the slices thin enough, but my knife skills aren’t that good, and you can find mandolins that are pretty inexpensive.

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Just spread the slices out on the paper towels and top with the seasonings.

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I used a little seasoning salt on these, but you can find recipes for different kinds of seasonings online: sour cream and onion, barbecue, and you can even make them hot and spicy. Just a little salt with herbs and/or spices is nice, too.

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Nothing but potatoes, olive oil, and seasoning. No preservatives or chemicals in sight. Perfect.

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You can make these to custom fit your taste. It depends on how thick you like them, how crisp you like them, and how you like the seasoning. Make them however YOU like them. Try different things!

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These chips are the perfect snack. They’re healthy because they’re not fried, they’re good for you (if you can eat potatoes), and they’re just right when you want just a little something, not a whole bag of chips! Try these is all the different flavors mentioned above. They are so tasty – you’ll love ’em!

 

 

 

 

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