I’m sure everyone has Thanksgiving dinner on the mind right now (me included!), but I wanted to share a couple of “hidden gems” that I’ve made the past week that are super delicious AND healthy! Imagine that!
So the first is a homemade granola. My boss brought in a batch and I couldn’t stop eating it! Most store-bought granola is pretty high in calories and sometimes fat & sugar. So being able to make it from scratch allows you to control what goes in it and customize it to your taste. This stuff is seriously so delicious and takes literally 5 minutes to throw all the ingredients together before you throw it in the oven. It’s a great grab & go snack, too. (I keep mine in single serving plastic containers, although you could definitely put some in a glass jar and add some ribbon/decoration and give away as Christmas presents too!) The recipe makes a TON of granola, so beware!
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (if you use Splenda brown sugar, it tells you on the back of the package the difference in amount)
1/2 cup water (you could substitute applesauce to give it more flavor)
4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp salt (NOTE: you may want to use slightly less if you end up using any salted nuts…otherwise, you may have salt overload!)
8 cups rolled oats (NOT Quick One-Minute oats, use the “Old Fashioned” oats)
2 cups whatever nuts you want (I love sliced almonds!)
1-2 cups of raisins/dried cranberries/any dried fruit (optional)
2 tbsp cinnamon (can add more for taste)
Optional: 1/2 cup powdered protein whey (vanilla flavored). I didn’t try this yet, so not sure if it affects the taste of the granola.
-Heat oven to 275. Put parchment paper or cooking spray on 2 cookie sheets.
-Mix brown sugar and water (or applesauce) in bowl. Heat in microwave until the brown sugar is dissolved, about 2 min. Add to this the vanilla extract, salt and cinnamon.
-In a BIG ASS bowl, mix oats, nuts and brown sugar syrup mixture (and whey if you use it.) Stir until well mixed.
-Spread granola onto cookie sheets and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (until crunchy). Put in fruit after baking- either immediately after it comes out of the oven or after it cools.
The other recipe gem that I wanted to share was one from Weight Watchers. Shameless WW plug: I’ve been doing WW since July and have lost almost 30 pounds as of today, so I’m definitely pleased and am a couple of weeks from being a lifetime member *fingers crossed*! Anyways, WW has TONS of delicious recipes that are great for you. Even if you aren’t on the program and counting “points,” their recipes are still healthy and worth giving a shot! One of my favorite finds from them is their Crispy Italian Wontons. The wontons are a baked version of the Chinese appetizer but with a delicious Italian twist! These are so quick and easy to make (which I’m a fan of) and if you are counting points, an entire wonton PLUS marinara dipping sauce is only 1 point! It is so decadent, flavorful and cheesy- definitely worth trying!
Crispy Italian Wontons (from Weight Watchers.com):
4 spray(s) olive oil cooking spray
1/2 cup(s) part-skim ricotta cheese
3 Tbsp reduced-fat pesto sauce
3 Tbsp roasted red peppers (packed in water), chopped
2 Tbsp shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
16 item(s) wonton wrapper(s)
1 cup(s) store-bought marinara sauce, warmed
-Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a large baking sheet with a good amount of cooking spray.
-In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, pesto, peppers and mozzarella.
-Place wonton wrappers on prepared baking sheet so wontons become saturated with oil. Place 1 tablespoon ricotta mixture onto center of each wrapper. Dip a finger into water and use it to moisten edges of wrapper; fold over one corner of wrapper to make a triangle and press sides together to create a seal (click here to see a video demonstration of this technique). If desired, create decorative lines along edges of wontons by pressing tines of a fork along bottom edge of each wonton.
Bake until wontons are golden brown on edges and dough is just cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes (mine took longer- more like 10 minutes). Serve with marinara sauce for dipping. Yields 1 wonton and 1 tablespoon sauce per serving.