Thursday, January 30, 2014

Got a Bunch of Boxes?!

I don't usually complain about the weather...too much... But some days it is just TOO cold! So cold you don't feel like leaving the warm house. But when you work as a nanny, it can be tough to entertain a little one all day in the house. Sure, we color, paint, watch some tv, etc. That gets pretty old after a while. Today we decided to get a little creative. We didn't want to leave the house to go buy anything, so we worked with what we had. That happened to be lots of boxes.  Dad had invested in three space heaters for the next few frigid days!

We got to work with the boxes. The family recently got two kittens so we decided to build them some little houses!
Add some electric green duct tape and you got a prettty sweet kitty castle!

Kiddo desperatly wants a puppy so the next creation was a puppy house. I don't think kitty got the memo.

This killed about 2 hours and I think I might have had more fun than the kiddo... Overall I think the kitties had the most fun!
I don't know about you but as a kid I was always thrilled when my parents got a new appliance or something that came in a big box! We built space ships, cars, castles, the possibilities were endless!! 

What is the best thing you built out of a box??

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am so in love with super easy AND super healthy recipes lately.  I recently posted my easiest cookie recipe ever.  I stand by the fact that it is the easiest EVER! This might be second easiest though.  Equally yummy and healthy! Get ready for some cookies!
I have been looking for new breakfast ideas lately and these are perfect.  They are so great to throw in a little bag and take with you to work or school or just to the couch while you sip coffee! Very easy to customize too.  You can make a single serving or a big batch to share.  

This is all you will need. And actually, you don't even really need the cinnamon or chocolate chips. They are super good with them though.   

Simply mix together 3/4 cup canned pumpkin and 3/4 cup quick oats.  Notice the handy dandy 1:1 ratio?! You can make more or less, just keep the amount of pumpkin and oats the same.
Mash it up good.  Feel free to get messy with your hands or stay clean with a spoon.

Here is where you can get a little crazy.  Feel free to add basically anything you want! Raisins, nuts, spices, chocolate, some protein powder... I kept it simple with some a lot of cinnamon and just a bit of chocolate... I also snuck in a few splenda packets...  
I bet white chocolate chips would be amazing!!! Making a note to try next time. 

Using these measurements you will get about 10 cookies.  Roll into balls and smash em down a bit.  
You can put them really close together on the pan because they won't rise or spread at all!
Bake at 350 for about 12-15 minutes.  I only did 12 minutes because I like my cookies really soft.

And done!! They pretty much look exactly the same as they did in dough form.  Just a bit darker.  They are so soft and moist from the pumpkin.  I will make a few batches of these to freeze.  The entire batch is only 370 calories! Makes a nice breakfast to take on the go1

At only about 37 calories each (with 1 T chocolate chips) you can eat more than one all of them! No guilt!
 So that's it.  I would say second easiest cookie recipe ever! Healthy, tasty, easy, portable, customizable...what more could you want in a cookie?!

Pumpkin Cookies
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup quick oats
  • 1 T mini chocolate chips
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • sweetener if desired
  1. Mash together pumpkin and oats
  2. Add any additional ingredients you want! You can even leave out the chocolate chips and cinnamon for an even easier recipe
  3. Roll into balls and flatten
  4. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes (use parchment paper or baking mat)
  5. Enjoy!
Makes 10 small cookies
Entire batch - 370 calories
9F 66C 12P

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Treasure Hunt

With all this cold weather and school cancellations lately, I am trying to come up with some fun indoor activities with the kiddos! At -10 degrees, snowball fights and sled riding are not the best choices. I don't want to be the nanny that had a kid lose a toe due to frostbite!

Anywho... I decided to set up a little treasure hunt. I wrote out about 10 clues and hid them around the house.
Just be sure to make a little cheat sheet so you know where all the clues go after you write them. Notice I numbered each card to be sure the hunt would be successful! 

Coming up with hiding places is fun. In the freezer...
In the oven...
Next to all the bunny crackers in the snack cupboard...
Also, I make one clue down in the basement, then one up stairs, back down, up two flights of stairs...Gotta make the kid work for it!

Then put the treasure in the last spot. Nothing too fancy, but I know kiddo will be excited.
Then I ever so casually tell the kiddo I found a clue with his name on it. We are both baffled?! I suggest we follow the clue. He quickly agrees!
"There is a clue with the ice cream!!"
He is looking so hard!! This one took him a little while to find. 

We were getting a workout running around the house. He got more excited with each clue he found. The whole time he kept asking who could have done this?!? Elves?? Minions?? Daddy?? A spy?? All good guesses kiddo!
A wet clue in the bath tub. 
Ha, love this picture! He is really searching hard for that treasure.
Yaaay! And then the treasure is devoured! While watching some Curious George of course :)
Kid legit has NO idea who did it all! Happy hunting :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Easiest Cookies Ever!

I know I know, there are a lot of very easy cookie recipes. I guarantee this is the easiest one out there!! All you need is two ingredients. And guess what?!? You don't even need an oven! A microwave will do just fine :) I told you...EASY!

Quick oats and a super ripe banana is all you will need. 
Simply take 1 cup oats and mix it together with your banana. Mash it up good! Hands work best for the part.
Your dough is ready to bake at this point! You can also get creative with add ins here. I chose cinnamon and raisins. 
Ok, up to four ingredients, but still! EASY! You could also add chocolate chips, crushed nuts, pumpkin pie spice, blueberries, cranberries, sweetener,  vanilla, a little peanut butter...use your imagination. Just be careful not to add too much or your cookies will fall apart. 

Form into balls and squish them down a bit. I got 7 little cookies. 
Put parchment paper down on a microwave safe plate. It would probably work without parchment but I haven't tried it. Now for the "baking". Microwave for about one minute. Watch them closely! Depending on add ins they might need a little more or less time. I did 1:20. 
And done!! Super easy and healthy cookie! Great for a breakfast on the go. They are so chewy and moist!
And yes, I ate them all! Only about 400 calories for the basic cookies. A little more depending on what else you add. 
Leaning tower of breakfast cookies!! So that's it!! Easiest cookie recipe ever :)

Easiest Cookies Ever!!

- 1 cup quick oats
- 1 very ripe banana

Mash together. Form balls and flatten. Microwave for about 1 minute. Enjoy!

Whole batch without raisins - 400 calories
6g Fat
80g Carb
11g Protein 

What's your favorite breakfast on the go??

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ready for some super healthy chocolate chip peanut butter cookies!? Secret healthy ingredient is chickpeas! They turned out scrumptious!! 

Not many ingredients are needed so it's quite simple!! All you will need is 1 can of white beans, peanut butter, sugar free syrup, egg substitute, vanilla, baking powder,  sweetener of choice, and chocolate chips.
You can use any nut butter.  If you want to cut down on the fat content, try PB2! 
Sub honey or agave for syrup.
Any canned white bean will work! (Navy, Great Northern, Garbanzo, Chickpeas)

You will also need a food processor or some type of blender.  I used my magnificant Ninja! You will want to drain and rinse the beans first.  Then basically add all ingredients into the blender.  Everything except the chocolate chips that is. 
 Looks kinda like humus in the making...Should be a pudding-like consistency.

They wouldn't be chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips!
Add as much or as little as you like.  You could also use dark chocolate, white chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter chips...add some nuts, raisins...whatever you like!

The dough is super sticky so just drop the batter onto your baking sheet. 
I highly recommend investing in a silicon baking mat! At least use parchment paper.  Last resort...spray the heck out of your pan with nonstick spray. These cookies will stick!

I got 12 decent sized cookies. Bake at 350 for about 22-25 minutes.  Be smart about it! Not all ovens bake the same.  Check on them so they don't burn. 
I call that "Cookie Perfection" Slightly browned, with lots of chocolatey goodness!

  If you like a more crunchy cookie, these are not for you! Sorry...So soft!
At only about 45 calories each you can definitely eat more than one!!

Is there anything better than peanut butter and chocolate?
Didn't think so...

I will admit it...I don't love eating beans...but when you turn them into a cookie!!! I will take six!
I guarantee you will not be able to taste the entire can of beans in these cookies!

Since they are healthy, there is no guilt!
I love them for breakfast, after a workout, or for a tasty snack!

So go dust off that can of beans you have in your cupboard and make these amazing cookies!
I am not sorry to say that half the batch is already gone!!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 cup canned white beans (260g) (will be 1 whole can)
  • 3 T peanut butter/nut butter (48g)
  • 1/4 cup sugar free syrup (60ml)
  • 1 T egg substitue (15g)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • sweetener to taste (3 packets)
  • 2 T mini chocolate chips (28g)
  1. Drain and rinse beans
  2. Blend everything except chocolate chips until smooth
  3. Stir in chocolate chips 
  4. Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes
Makes 12 cookies
45 calories per cookie - 2.5F 4C 2P

535 calories for entire batch
24F 72C 20P

Check out my recipe video!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pumpkin Banana Pancakes

So, fall is over...BUT that doesn't mean all the pumpkin deliciousness has to be over too! Seriously, why only pumpkin in the fall?? Why only candy canes at Christmas?? ( I don't know about you, but I could enjoy a fun peppermint treat any time of the year ) Watermelon and corn on the cob only in the summer?? I could go on...

One of my goals is to start baking more.  I LOVE baking! I don't know why I don't do it more often.  I have been in a rut lately of eating easy snack foods like pretzels, protein bars, bagels, crackers, etc.  So when I have the time, I am going to start trying to bake/make things more often.  This morning I made some super yummy pumpkin pancakes!
I took a recipe from this amazing blog.  It's called Chocolate Covered Katie - The Healthy Dessert Blog.  She has so many awesome and healthy recipes.  I took her pumpkin pancake recipe and altered it a bit to fit my needs.  I am SURE if you follow her recipe they will be delicious!! I just made a few little changes.  I subbed oat bran for half of the flour, added extra cinnamon and pumpkin, left out the oil and pumpkin pie spice, and added some egg beaters and banana.
The batter was SUPER thick! I am sure you could add more milk if you wanted to thin it out.  I like more dense pancakes.  Almost muffin-like... In fact, I bet I could put this batter into a muffin pan and it would work great! I am gonna have to try that.
The batter was soooo thick.  Next time I probably will thin it out a little bit, but I do like them this way.  I sprayed the pancake flipper ( does it have a more proper name ) with some pam and pressed them down a bit.  
I am definitely NOT a pretty pancake maker!!! Meh, who cares...they taste the same no matter what! I don't have time to make them perfect circles!
Once again, not the most beautiful looking things...But they were yummy! I topped with some spray butter, sugar free syrup, and even more cinnamon.  

These are not what I would call your "traditional" pancakes.  They are not super light and fluffy.  They are more dense, kinda doughy, and hearty pancakes.  I love the pumpkin, banana, and cinnamon combo.  I think next time I will try baking them as muffins.  I will let you know how they turn out :)

Pumpkin Banana Pancakes
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (30g)
  • 1/4 cup oat bran (30g)
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 5 splenda packets
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 t apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (120g)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 banana thinly sliced
  • 1/16 cup egg beaters
Simply mix all the ingredients together by hand.  Get your pan nice and hot, a little non stick spray, and flip when ready! Since they are a lot thicker than your average pancake, you won't see them bubble when ready to flip. You just have to kinda check and see when the bottoms are a little brown.  

I have also made these before and just topped them with some cream cheese and cinnamon.  I haven't tried it yet, but I bet some peanut butter on top would be awesome too!

Do you prefer "traditional" pancakes or different flavors?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Protein Bar Craze

It is no secret the love I have for protein bars! They are convenient, easy to take on the go, relatively inexpensive, and they come in sooo many fun and tasty flavors! 

I eat at least one everyday. I like trying different kinds to mix it up. I did a protien bar review a while back and have tried so many more since then! These are by no means all of the ones I had, but some of my favorites. I definelty prefer desserty flavors as you will notice.

Most of these are pretty BIG bars. Can probably be enough for a meal for a lot of people. On my weight gain journey they are more like snacks :) Here we go!

This is my new favorite as of now. What's not to love about cake batter?? 320 calories and a whopping 24g of protein. It  does have that vanilla protein powder taste but I actually kinds like that. It's super soft and has white chocolatey coating. 

Anything peanut butter flavored is always a win in my opinion! Soft and chewy, tons of protein, 310 calories, and overall YUM! 

This is more like a dessert than a meal! It reminds me of those Keebler wafer cookies covered in chocolate. But this is a little better for you :) They come in all kinds of different flavors too. This one is peanut butter fudge and so good. 200 calories and 13g of protein.

Notice a peanut butter theme here... Add in some chocolate and you can't lose. This was the first PRO BAR I had and really liked it. 290 calories and 20g protein.

I am loving these Clif Builder's lately. Chocolate chip is my favorite flavor but they come in a lot more. 270 calories and 20g protein. A "harder" bar, with like a rice krispyish layer and a protein layer, all covered in chocolate.

Ok, this is a HUGE bar. 400 calories and 31g of protein. This is crispy apple pie flavor. It had white chocolate on the bottom, a rice krispyish layer, and then an ooey gooey apple layer. YUM!

Smaller bar here. 210 calories but still 20g protein. I really like this but if def has that protein powder flavor. It's a really soft bar which is my favorite kind. A nice change from all the chocolate bars out there.

This is more of a granola bar rather than a protein bar.  250 calories but only 9g of protein. BUT it tastes like a soft oatmeal cookie! 

Peanut butter cookiedough...sounds delish right?!? Meh, not so great. This is the loser of the bunch. It had a very fakey peanut butter flavor with an undesirable after taste. :(

I found most of these at the local grocery store, Giant Eagle. You can also get a lot of then online at
I like it because you can order just 1 of a lot od the bars to see if you like it. They also have allll kinds of other products.

Do you eat protein bars??
What's your favortie kind?