PB Honey Yogurt Dip

I was bent like a pretzel today. You know what I mean…in yoga class?

Today I headed downtown Milwaukee to a small, local yoga studio with my sister, Lauren. You remember Lauren, right? She was my guest blogger yesterday for “5 Life Lessons for a Healthier Life”. With Lauren’s recent diagnosis of lupus, she has taken it upon herself to live a healthier life. And yoga is just one aspect she has incorporated into her routine with the help of one of her co-workers.

I have done some yoga before. I’ve tried a few yoga videos and even “hot” yoga which I really enjoyed. When I first started yoga it really wasn’t for me. I was, or so I thought, an athlete who “didn’t do yoga”. I did clean & jerks, back-squats, heck, even flipped monster tires around for a bit. But my back disorder that I talked about here forced me to change my entire approach to exercise. Now I find that I really love yoga and pilates. They help my back immensely! Because I had the day off from school, I decided to head down and try out yoga again for the first time since probably early 2011.

Man! I feel great. My back was really hurting this morning while I was sitting throughout the morning as I studied. I was really grateful for the noon yoga to break up my studying for the day for a little back pain and emotional relief.

Have you tried yoga? Do you do it on a regular basis? If so, what do you love about it? 

After yoga, I headed back to the house to begin studying again. But I couldn’t help it and had to head to the kitchen to make a healthy snack for myself that I could share with all of you! Peanut Butter Honey Yogurt Dip!

Raise your hand if you LOVE apples? Keep them up if you are digging this harvest season when apples are the BEST! Yeah. I figured you’d all have your hand up. But I’m going to put mine back down because this whole typing with one hand is rather difficult.

Anyways, I think you will really enjoy this dip because, well, duh, it has peanut butter in it–but it is only 3 simple ingredients and can be made in a flash! If you are looking for a new way to enjoy your apples or need a side dish to pass at your next gathering–this is your dip.

Common’. Let’s get dippin’!

Heaven Sent Peanut Butter: PB Honey Yogurt Dip

Peanut Butter Honey Yogurt Dip

Recipe from: Two Peas & Their Pod

  • 6 ounces, 0% fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

In a small bowl, combine all 3 ingredients until well combined.

Serve with slice apples, graham crackers, or other cut-up fruit. Enjoy!!

Heaven Sent Peanut Butter: PB Honey Yogurt Dip

No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars

Okay, it’s official. Not only do I have a peanut butter obsession, it seems as though I have a homemade granola bar obsession. Remember when I made these for you last week? Oh, and these the week before that. See, told you. It’s a total obsession.

Heaven Sent Peanut Butter: No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars

I think part of the reason why is that I’m in this mode of trying to eliminating processed foods. Granola bars are always such an easy thing to grab and eat for breakfast as you head out the door, or very complimentary to a bagged lunch. When you make your own granola bars, even when you are adding some sugar, I still feel better about it because I know exactly what I am putting in my body. No preservatives and no odd ingredients that I can’t even pronounce–and we study food ingredients in school!

I put together these no-bake granola bars with pretty much anything I had in the house that I thought would go well together. Since I made Peanut Butter Pretzel Granola Bars last week, I still has some puffed wheat cereal left over. Other staples in my house that I usually always have on hand include: ground flaxseed, chocolate chips, oats (old-fashioned and quick), almonds, raisins, and duh–peanut butter! (Except this one time, but we won’t go there again!)

Without further ado…

Heaven Sent Peanut Butter: No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars

No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars 

  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 2 cups, puffed wheat cereal
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup whole raw almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, or your favorite nut butter

Lightly grease a 13×9 pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, cereal, flaxseed, raisins, and chopped almonds.

Next, in a small sauce pan on medium heat, add the honey and brown sugar. Stir and cook until well combined and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add your peanut butter and stir until melted and well-incorporated.

Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. It may be a bit tough to mix, but keep going until well combined. Lastly, add the chocolate chips and stir again.

Add the complete mixture to your lightly greased pan. Using wax paper or parchment paper (to save your hands from getting greasy), firmly press the mixture into the pan equally distributing it. You want to be sure to press firmly so the end result is a bar instead of a granola mixture.

Cool the bars for at least 30 minutes, preferably in the refrigerator. Once cooled, cut into bars, approximately 16. To make it easier to add to lunches or for a grab-and-go breakfast, individually wrap the bars into small ziploc bags.

Yum!

Monday Digs + Peanut Butter Pretzel Granola Bars

Often times there are products or new things that I feel I just have to share with you. With that being said, I have decided to introduce “Monday Digs”. ‘Digs’ refers to what I am currently obsessed with, or digging. Brought to you today…uh, by me, is my first dig!

Today’s dig needs little introduction beside this someecard:

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Of course I went to Target today with a strict list–the items I knew I couldn’t purchase from Trader Joe’s. I think I deserve a gold star though, because the only thing I bought outside of the list was this:

Heaven Sent Peanut Butter: Angie's Kettle Corn

I almost bought a new coffee maker. But I’ll save that for purchase later this week and it will totally count that I still only strayed from the list for this one item.

My dig this week is Angie’s Kettle Corn…but not just any kettle corn, individual servings (0.5 ounce)! The cute popcorn packages were being advertised for trick or treat, but I quickly grabbed them because I often crave popcorn but cannot keep my portion control in check if I pop a whole bag. These little bags contain only 70 calories, 4 ingredients, are whole grain, free of high-fructose corn syrup and trans-fats, and gluten-free. Plus, they are only 2 WW+ points, if you are counting.

I’m excited to be adding these little packages to my lunch box when I have a long day at school and in need of a fun treat! Speaking of fun treats, these remind me of Clif Mojo bars. My lunch might be packed with both the kettle corn and these granola bars tomorrow. Don’t judge.

Heaven Sent Peanut Butter: Peanut Butter Pretzel Granola Bars

Peanut Butter Pretzel Granola Bars

Recipe Adapted from: How Sweet It Is

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup puffed wheat (or rice) cereal
  • 1 cup crushed salted pretzels
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon agave nectar (or honey)
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13×9 pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, cereal, pretzels, flaxseed, brown sugar, flour, and peanuts. Mix well. Slightly melt the 2/3 cup peanut butter in the microwave and then drizzle onto the mixture. Mix until well combined.

Next, add the melted butter and vanilla. Mix. Add the honey. Mix. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Press the mixture into the lightly greased pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely before cutting and serving.

Heaven Sent Peanut Butter: Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Enjoy!

Ranch Hummus

Ranch? Good on practically everything, right? Right.

Hummus? Delicious with carrots, pretzels, on a sandwich…or pretty much anything ranch is good on. I think we all know that ranch often adds a lot of calories and fat. Why not make RANCH HUMMUS to get the flavor of ranch with little fat and high fiber?

My thought exactly.

*I’m not going to lie, taking the “skin” off of each garbanzo bean is a little time consuming, but not a required step of the recipe. However, this step is what makes the hummus extremely creamy. If you choose to go this route like I did, I found it best to pinch the bean to remove the skin.

Heaven Sent Peanut Butter

Once you get the hang of it, it goes pretty fast. Other than this step, making your own RANCH HUMMUS is extremely easy.

Now go grab your bag of veggies and enjoy your homemade ranch hummus!

Heaven Sent Peanut Butter

Ranch Hummus 

Recipe Adapted from: 52 Kitchen Adventures

  • 1, 15.5 ounce can garbanzo beans
  • 3 tablespoons tahini paste, or Trader Joe’s Tahini Sauce (if you can’t find the paste)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1, 1 ounce packet ranch seasoning mix

Heaven Sent Peanut Butter: Ranch Hummus

First, drain the garbanzo beans and reserve the liquid in a separate bowl. Second, remove the skins from the garbanzo beans (*See note above*).

Using your food processor, blend the drained garbanzo beans for approximately 1 minute. Next, add the tahini, lemon juice, and ranch. Blend. Add some of the reserved garbanzo bean liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the hummus reaches your desired consistency. I used 3 tablespoons.

Cover and refrigerate the hummus until ready to serve.

No-Bake Energy Bites

Small BIG crisis…

Heaven Sent Peanut Butter

The. Peanut. Butter. Is. Gone. Seriously. I’mnotkidding.

I was hoping to make this recipe and noticed that my peanut butter jar was nearing the end. But I ALWAYS have an extra. I guess not this time. I went ravaging through my cupboards. Nope, nowhere to be found. Mom–If you’re reading this, we need to make a stop at Sam’s Club, ASAP!

Although this IS the current issue of the utmost importance in the house right now–forget the studying or research project for now–I did manage to have enough peanut butter to make these amazing No-Bake Energy Bites. I’ve made these once before and my husband pretty much gobbled them up before I could try them. But he’s gone all day, so maybe they will last until the morning…or midnight.

What really made me want to eat make these was the honey that was given to us this weekend from my husband’s aunt. She recently took up beekeeping and she has been very generous to share the sweet nectar as a result! Thank you, Auntie Lori!

You’re going to want to make these energy bites as soon as you see how easy they are to make. Ready. Set. Go.

Heaven Sent Peanut Butter: No-Bake Energy Bites

No-Bake Energy Bites

Recipe Adapted from: Gimme Some Oven

  • 1 cup, old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract

Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl until thoroughly mixed. Roll out approximately 20 balls and place on a pan or plate lined with wax paper. Refrigerate for approximately 1 hour.

Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week. Enjoy!!

Pico de Gallo

I don’t know what took me so long to try them, but the tacos at Chipotle are one of my favorite things in the past few months. In college I really enjoyed the burritos at Chipotle. After graduation brought an end to my competitive athletic career, I moved on to the burrito bowls. Not working out 4+ hours a day forced me to remove the calorie packed, yet yummy white tortilla from my order. Since then, I have been enjoying the burrito bowls with the yummy cilantro lime rice. But a few months ago, I don’t know what came over me one day, but I tried the chicken tacos and haven’t ordered a burrito or bowl since. Now every time we are in a pinch for dinner and don’t have much at home, I always start craving chicken or steak tacos with guac, corn salsa, and pico de gallo from Chipotle.

Heaven Sent Peanut Butter: Pico de Gallo Salsa

After finding a new recipe for pico de gallo, I quickly added homemade tacos to the menu. I designed the meal as “make your own tacos”. I diced up some chicken, seasoned it, got out some flour & corn tortillas, shredded cheese, lettuce, and of course guacamole.

Try this new, fresh salsa recipe this weekend! Create your own taco night or serve it as an appetizer with some multigrain chips.

Tonight we are making a pork tenderloin with yummy parmesan basil orzo! If you haven’t made this orzo yet either, you should really add it to your menu this week!

Heaven Sent Peanut Butter: Pico de Gallo Salsa

Pico de Gallo Salsa

Recipe Adapted from: Sweet Life

  • 4 medium tomatoes, seeded & diced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, minced (without seeds)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve on tacos or with chips!

Dipping Pretzels the New Castle Way

A few posts ago I shared parts of the road trip my husband and I took. When we stopped to visit with my godparents we enjoyed some local favorites of New Castle, PA. I was excited to try the local salad favorite which included french fries and lamb surrounded by a salad. I know you are asking, “French fries, in a salad? Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose?” Well, don’t think about it that way. Think about it that we had a salad with a side of french fries! 🙂

Although the salad was quite wonderful, there was a different New Castle favorite that blew my mind. Soft pretzels dipped in hot fudge! I know what you are thinking here too…”Why didn’t I think of that?!” I LOVE those mall pretzels. Every time I’m at the mall I try to make sure I don’t walk past the food court luring me with the smell of soft pretzels. Every once in a while I cave in–but they do have a new honey whole wheat pretzel which is pretty yummy! But back to the hot fudge. If my blog had a different name, it would probably include hot fudge. Peanut butter and hot fudge together, now that’s the best combination.

Since you are probably drooling over your keyboard by now, I should probably get to the recipe for the soft pretzels we made the other day. They were delicious on their own, but magnificent when dipped in hot fudge–Mrs. Richardson’s Hot Fudge for that matter. Yum!!

Heaven Sent Peanut Butter: Soft Pretzels with Hot Fudge

Soft Pretzels with Hot Fudge

Recipe Adapted from: The Food Network

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, plus more if you desire it for dipping
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt, if desired
  • Hot fudge

Begin by warming the milk in a saucepan until it reaches approximately 110 degrees. Pour the milk into your stand mixer bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let the yeast and milk stand for about 2 minutes. With the dough hook to the stand mixer, stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup of flour. Dice the softened flour and stir into the mix. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour and the 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix with the dough hook until well combined. The dough should be slightly sticky. You may add more flour if still very sticky, just don’t over do it.

Shape the dough into a ball and place into a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for about 1 hour until it doubles in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper. Punch down the dough to deflate it, then turn it on to a slightly floured surface. Now you can mold the pretzels into any shape you would like. I made mine into nuggets for easier dipping. You could also choose sticks or take the time to make them into pretzel shapes. To create the pretzel shape: Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each rope into a pretzel shape: Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each rope into a pretzel shape: “Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each rope into a pretzel shape.”

Regardless of the shape, dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups of warm water in a shallow baking dish.Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution and place on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt, if desired.

Bake pretzel nuggets or sticks for approximately 8 minutes. Bake the pretzel shape for 10 to 12 minutes. With a pastry brush, spread melted butter over the pretzels, if desired.

Enjoy your pretzels the New Castle, PA way!!

Heaven Sent Peanut Butter: Soft Pretzels

Roasted Cinnamon Almonds

Have you ever been to the ballpark and smelt those A-MA-ZING roasted nuts? YUM! If you enjoy that smell and almonds, you are going to love these cinnamon toasted almonds.

I grew up as a really picky eater. When I was in college and tried to start eating healthier by expanding my healthy food options, I finally landed on almonds. If you don’t know already, almonds are full of healthy fats and are low in carbohydrates. Keep in mind that calories can add up quickly, so consider your portion. A small handful would be appropriate.

If you are like me, sometimes the simply roasted salted almonds just don’t just cut it. Sometimes you are craving a little extra flavor; something a little sweet. So then you turn to the cinnamon, honey, or cocoa almonds you can find at the grocery store. Well, those don’t cut it for me either. They are often sweetened with sugar substitutes. Although I do believe sugar substitutes have their place (i.e. diabetic patients), I really don’t enjoy the flavor of sugar substitutes. If something is sweetened with sucralose (or better known as, Splenda), I can taste it. Some people have sensitive tongues like me, others are like my husband and really can’t taste it. Lucky. You save on calories.

Anyway, I landed on these Cinnamon Toasted Almonds from Taste of Home and couldn’t wait to try them. They hit the spot for a little sweet snack or even a dessert. Even better, they are much cheaper to make than to buy them at the store or at the ball park. Make sure your next bag lunch includes these yummy, healthy cinnamon almonds!

ImageRoasted Cinnamon Almonds

Makes: 4 cups

  • 2 egg whites
  • 6 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups unblanched almonds
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line two pans with spilmats or parchment paper, or lightly grease them. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy; beat in the vanilla. Add the almonds and fold the mixture until the almonds are evenly coated.

In a separate bowl, combine the sugars, salt, and cinnamon. Stir until evenly blended. Add the sugar mixture to the almonds and fold together until the almonds are evenly coated.

Spread the almonds on to the baking pans so that they lie in a single layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the almonds are crisp, stirring once. Cool. Store in an airtight container.

Note: If you are roasting the almonds on separate pans, be sure to rotate the pans half way during roasting to ensure the bottom pan does not burn on the bottom.

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