May 2015 Archive

Lemon Parmesan Popcorn

This crunchy and filling snack is topped up with a sprinkle of lemon zest, parmesan cheese and black pepper. A great healthy option when you’re craving some crunch! Gluten-free, vegetarian and full of fibre and antioxidants!

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Mmmm nothing beats the crunchy taste of popcorn…

Especially this popcorn.

I like to call this classy popcorn.

Who says you need to drench your popcorn in butter and shower it with salt in order to create a tasty bowl of popcorn anyways?

Now when you think about popcorn, I’m sure lemon, parmesan and black pepper are probably not the flavours that immediately come to mind.

But when I first tried this recipe, I was pleasantly surprised that these unique flavours meld together to form a nice crunchy, zesty and filling snack. Apparently, some of my family members agreed with me because I left the bowl of popcorn on the counter for a few minutes to go do something and it was practically gone when I got back.

I pretty much have to guard the food that I test at my house, or put up a sign that says “do not touch until consent has been provided.”

Seriously.

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They could be snacking on worse things though. Like buttery tubs of movie theatre popcorn.

The good new is that this popcorn is a lot lower in saturated fat and sodium found at the movies. And a heck of a lot cheaper too!

Plus, popcorn is high in fibre and antioxidants, which has amazing anti-aging and disease-fighting properties.

So when you hit that 3 o’clock slump or the post dinner nibbles, this makes a great snack because it contains fibre from the popcorn, protein from the parmesan cheese and a touch of healthy fats from the drizzle of olive oil. Because of its high volume, it will fill you up without filling you out. Provided you don’t eat the whole bowl all at once.

Feel free to adjust the level of lemon zest and pepper to get just the right balance for you.

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Now you just gotta host a popcorn and movie night!

Lemon Parmesan Popcorn

Yield: Approximately 12 cups popcorn

Ingredients

  • ½ cup popcorn kernels (or 12 cups of already popped popcorn like SkinnyPop)
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest of 1 small lemon
  • ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • Sea salt, to taste (optional)

Instructions

    Quick Microwave Method:
  1. Put ¼ cup of kernels into a brown paper lunch bag at a time. Fold the bag over at the top several times. Place in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, or until the popping sound decreases. Repeat with the other ¼ cup of kernels.
  2. Once all the kernels have been popped, place the popcorn into a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil over the popcorn and gently toss to coat.
  3. Use a Microplane or grater to grate some lemon zest and Parmesan over the bowl of popcorn, to taste. Add pepper and salt, to taste. Toss to distribute the seasonings. Let the popcorn sit about one minute before serving.
  4. Non-microwave method:
  5. Heat oil in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add popcorn kernels to oil in saucepan; shake lightly to distribute kernels evenly. Cover and cook 2 minutes or until kernels begin to pop, shaking pan frequently. Continue cooking 1 minute, shaking pan constantly. When popping slows down, remove the pan from heat and dump the popcorn into the bowl. Sprinkle the seasonings over the popcorn as stated above in the microwave method.

Adapted from My Recipes

Nutrients per serving (for about 2 cups popcorn):

• Calories: 128 • Fat: 6.6 g • Carbohydrates: 15.7 g • Fibre: 2.7 g • Protein: 4.1 g • Sugar: 0 g • Sodium: 91 mg • Cholesterol: 3 mg

Elysia, XOXO
27 Lessons for 27 Years
Gratefulness shot

Yesterday, I celebrated my 27th birthday. Woo hoo!! 27 already. Hard to believe.

With the hugs, birthday wishes and double chocolate brownie birthday cake (yum) also came a great deal of reflection and emotion.

Not emotion in the sense that another year has gone by, but more so emotion triggered by reflecting on all of the incredible blessings that have been poured into my life throughout the past 27 years.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend the day with my family, sharing stories, memories, laughter and tears. As I’ve gotten older and life has gotten busier, those moments don’t happen as often as they used to, so when they do, it’s something to be cherished.

When I first woke up, my mom presented me with an amazing little book that just happened to also be a huge tear jerker. She got me to read it out loud, and by the end of it, we were all in tears.  The book was all about little reminders to follow your heart. If I’ve learned one thing in my 27 years, that lesson would be to follow your heart and dream big.

As much as I love to inspire others with healthy recipes and pretty style, I also like to reflect and provide insight on what I’ve learned in my 27 years in this world. Not a long time, I know. But it’s long enough that I’ve been able to look back and reflect on some of the meaningful lessons that I’ve learned over the years.

Lessons learned post

Here are my top 27 lessons learned:

  1. Happiness is found in what you have, not in striving for what you don’t have.
  1. Believe in yourself even when you feel that no one else does. Confidence in yourself will be the bridge that carries you over doubts.
  1. There will be many mountains and valleys in life. Be grateful for the mountains and persevere through the valleys. Hope can survive all trials.
  1. Take time to pray and spend time with God. It is during these quiet times that you can truly hear the voice of God speak.
  1. When you believe in something, stand your ground. Don’t change or compromise just because you’re outnumbered or for fear of what others think.
  1. Be optimistic. See sunshine where others see shadows and opportunities where others see obstacles.
  1. Rely on God to help you turn large problems into small ones and small ones into nothing at all.
  1. Take care of your body and tend the garden of your soul. It’s the only place that you have to live.
  1. Never allow what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.
  1. Have the fortitude and faith to hang on to what’s important when others have let go.
  1. Realize that your failures and mistakes are merely steps of learning on your path to better tomorrows.
  1. Never have a day without laughing or loving, giving or forgiving.
  1. Smile even when you don’t feel like it. You never know when it might make someone else’s day.
  1. Take time when needed to silence the noise in your head and heart and remind yourself of what you truly want out of life.
  1. Dare to do the undoable.
  1. Recognize that all great achievements take time. And when you achieve great things, be grateful, kind and maintain a humble heart.
  1. Always find the sparkle that’s hidden in the gloomiest of days.
  1. When you hug, hug tight. When you talk, talk with your eyes. When you listen, listen with your heart.
  1. Learn to sail in all winds and across the seas of change. Change happens. Get used to it.
  1. Find joy in everything that you do. Never allow the music in your soul to fade into silence.
  1. Find your passion and pursue it. Make every moment count.
  1. Fall in love. There is no greater feeling in the world than finding someone that you adore, and who adores you in return.
  1. Live life right now, and don’t wait until, until, until….there’s no better time to start living than right at this very moment.
  1. Spend time with people that you admire and soak up every word they say. You can learn a great deal from their wisdom and experience.
  1. Do what you love. Find work that makes you happy. Live life with gusto. Positive energy is infectious.
  1. Be a positive role model. You never know who might be watching you.
  1. Life is short. Never take a single moment for granted.
Be lovely Elysia, XOXO
Skinny Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

So guess what?

Tomorrow is my birthday! Another year has rolled around again. Now I’m not doing a birthday blog post to inform the world that it’s my birthday. I’m also not looking to receive an abundance of birthday wishes. Not that I don’t want them. But I’m not asking for them.

I do, however, have a special birthday treat to share with you, and I thought, what better day to post it than on my birthday!

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For the past few years, I have made my own birthday cake.

Is that weird?

You don’t have to answer that. Maybe I’m the only one who makes my own cake.

BUT I have a good reason.

I make my own cake because that way I can be 100% sure that it has all of the ingredients that I LOVE. If I’m gonna have cake, I’d rather it be a cake that I drool over, rather than just some mediocre cake.

Cake is a pretty big deal for me because it’s not everyday that I indulge.

Now my one weakness just happens to be chocolate and peanut butter.

I remember one year, I slaved in the kitchen to make the most decadent chocolate peanut butter cake EVER.

It was amazing. It probably took me over 5 hours from start to finish. Great way to spend my birthday, right?

This year, once again, I felt a sudden urge to combine chocolate and peanut butter into some kind of concoction. Surprise, surprise.

I toyed with the idea of making a chocolate peanut butter lava cake. Or maybe the same cake that I made a few years ago.

But that’s boring.

So instead, I went with cupcakes!

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It all started when I came across this amazing chocolate muffin recipe from Chelsea’s Messy Apron. And then I started thinking..this would make an amazing cupcake if I could come up with a good frosting.

My goal this year was to make a healthier version of a cupcake, just to prove to myself that it could be done.

After eating healthy foods for years, my body does this weird thing now where it actually craves nutrients and healthy food.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about balance and I do like to indulge every once in a while. But even when I indulge, often times my body still frequently tells me to make the healthier choice.

My body and I have good communication. We chat all the time.

This year it told me that it wanted Skinny Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes.

So I listened. After all, good communication is a two way street.

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Hope you enjoy this healthy little indulgence!

Skinny Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Yield: 9 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp. oat flour*
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup creamy all-natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons dark chocolate chips
  • * You can buy oat flour or make it by blending regular oats in the blender into a fine flour consistency. Measure the oat flour after it has been ground into a flour.
  • Frosting:
  • 4 tbsp. Greek yogurt
  • 4 tbsp. cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extra
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray 9 of the muffin tin cups and fill the other three up halfway with water. This ensures that the cupcakes will bake evenly.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the cocoa powder, oat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the peanut butter, egg, applesauce, Greek yogurt, vanilla, and honey. Stir until completely combined.
  4. Mix together the dry and wet ingredients. Make sure to not over mix the cupcake batter, as this will increase the density.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 15 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool.
  7. While the cupcakes are cooling, add the Greek yogurt, cream cheese, maple syrup, peanut butter and vanilla extract into a mixing bowl. Beat on high speed with an electric mixer until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add the cocoa powder to the mixture and beat on low speed until combined, and gradually increase to a higher speed until the frosting is smooth.
  8. Spread or pipe the frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes. Enjoy!

Cupcake recipe adapted from Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Nutrients per serving:

• Calories: 227 • Fat: 15g • Carbohydrates: 19g • Fibre: 3g • Protein: 7g • Sugar: 12g • Sodium: 115mg • Cholesterol: 39mg

Elysia, XOXO
Berry Caprese Skewers

The berries have been on sale for the past little while at the grocery store, so I’ve been on a real berry kick lately. I’m sure you can tell judging by the overwhelming amount of berry posts I’ve been doing over the past few weeks.

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Berries are great. But do you know what’s even better?

Berries combined with little mozzarella pearls and basil on a little wooden skewer.

Adorable. And very classy.

If you can’t tell, I am super excited about this recipe. These little appetizers are beauties. And they’re really light, refreshing and healthy too.

In my opinion, that’s the best type of appetizer there is.

Healthy. Tasty. And pretty.

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I served up these little beauties at an event right before Easter at the grocery store where I work. At first, I’ll admit that I got some strange looks. Like really weird and awkward looks.

Almost like those passing by skeptically looking at the tray out of the corner of their eye were saying, “who puts a berry on a stick with a little white ball and green leafy thing?”

I know. It’s a little weird.

But after clearing up what was actually on the little stick, some customers were brave enough to give the little skewer thingy a shot.

And guess what!?

After giving them a try, the customers couldn’t believe how refreshing they were. The women were all over it, listing off all of the places that they could serve up this gorgeous appetizer.

“For Easter brunch. At the cottage. And even for Grandma Martha’s 85th birthday party.”

And even the men said in a whispering tone that the appetizer was pretty darn good, as they nervously looked around to make sure no one saw them pick up the little pretty berry skewer. Which, of course, would totally ruin their reputation and manliness.

Blackberryskewers

What I love about this appetizer is that it only requires three simple ingredients. Blackberries (or insert berry of choice). Mozzarella pearls. Fresh basil. Easy peasy!

Berries are wonderful because they are chocked full of fibre and antioxidants and also are one of those fruits that are lower in sugar. The mozzarella pearls offer a dose of protein and calcium. And the basil offers a wonderful refreshing taste. Winning combo for a healthy appetizer.

Try em’ out for your next get together. Everyone will be commenting about how pretty they are!

Berry Caprese Skewers

Yield: 30 Skewers

Ingredients

  • 30 fresh black berries
  • 30 fresh mozzarella pearls
  • 15 fresh basil leaves
  • 30 wooden skewers or toothpicks

Instructions

  1. Wash berries and basil leaves. Tear basil leaves into quarters. Skewer one piece of basil, then a mozzarella pearl, followed by another piece of basil on a wooden skewer or toothpick. End with a blackberry.
  2. Serve & enjoy! If you have any leftovers, store in an airtight container. They’ll last for a few days in the fridge.

Adapted from Butter with a Side of Bread

Nutrition per skewer (based on one blackberry, one mozzarella pearl, 2 pieces of basil)

Servings: 30 • Calories: 12.6   • Fat: 0.6 g • Carbohydrates: 0.9 g • Fibre: 0.5 g • Protein: 0.8 g • Sugar: 0.4 g • Sodium: 5.7 mg • Cholesterol: 2.5 mg

Elysia, XOXO