Monthly Archives: January 2016

Unique Valentine’s Day Treats

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and if you’re someone who likes to give your valentines in the form of baked treats, you’re probably wondering how you can make something creative and popular without spending weeks in the kitchen.  If you’re a cook, chances are that you already have quite a few Valentine’s Day treat recipes up your sleeve, but if you’re all out of ideas for this year, or you’re simply looking to add a few more recipes to your collections and try something new, we have a few recipe ideas for this year’s Valentine’s Day treats.

Red Velvet Heart Sandwich Cookies
Everyone loves cookies, and these red heart cookies with delicious cream cheese frosting stuffed delightfully in the middle.  Not only are they creative and fun, but they are pretty easy to make and the perfect Valentine’s Day Treat.

RHI Photo Credit: raspberricupcakes.com

Ingredients:
250g soft, good quality unsalted butter
80g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
About 1 tbsp liquid red food colour, adjust as you like (I used gel colouring, which only
needed about 2 tsp)
75g (1/2 cup) cornflour (cornstarch)
225g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
1/2 tsp salt

For the cream cheese icing:
113g cream cheese
1 tbsp (14g) butter
1 cup (150g) icing sugar, sifted

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and line two baking sheets with baking paper. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add red food coloring and vanilla and beat until just combined. Sift flours, cocoa powder and salt over butter mixture and, using a wooden spoon, stir to form a soft dough. If you are making heart shapes you may want to chill your dough for about 10 mins before you start to shape them, to stop the butter in the dough melting from the heat of your hands

Keeping your fingertips lightly floured, press heaped teaspoons of dough into heart shapes that are about 0.5cm thick and 3.5cm wide and place on baking sheets (do not knead your dough, work it as little as possible). I could fit about 24 biscuits on each sheet. Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly colored. Stand biscuits on trays for 5 minutes, before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

To prepare the icing, remove the cream cheese and butter 30 mins before starting. Beat cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high until smooth and fluffy. Add sifted icing sugar and beat until smooth. Spoon on to cooled biscuits and sandwich together. Can be served immediately or stored in the fridge in an airtight container.

Recipe via Raspberri Cupcakes

Double Chocolate Heart Doughnuts
Not many people would turn down a chocolate donut, but what if you had a special heart-shaped donut for Valentine’s Day? It’s a proven fact that most home-cooked meals or home-baked treats taste better than that store-bought stuff, and this one will fit right into the collection.

RHI1Photo Credit: hungrygirlporvida.com

Ingredients:
1 cup cake flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablsepoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons milk

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350*F. Lightly spray a doughnut pan with cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and sugar. In a large measuring cup whisk together the buttermilk, egg, butter, and vanilla. Mix the wet mixture into the dry until just combined. Scrape the batter into a plastic bag, cut off the tip, and pipe batter into doughnut pan wells–about 1/2 way up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes (heart shaped) or 13 for regular doughnuts. Allow to cool about 5 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a rack to cool. Glaze and sprinkle once doughnuts have cooled.

Recipe via Hungry Girl Porvida

Chocolate-Dipped Heart Brownies
Brownies are an American favorite, and they only get better with these delicious Valentine’s Day special. If you know the delight of biting into a moist, melt-in-your mouth type of a brownie, you have to try this amazing recipe.

RHI2Photo Credit: recipegirl.com

Ingredients:
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
16 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (or chocolate chips)
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 Tablespoons instant espresso powder
7 large eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups granulated white sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 13x18x1-inch sheet pan. Line with foil or parchment that hangs over the sides for ease in getting them out (butter the foil/parchment).

In a heatproof, medium-bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, heat butter, and chocolates until melted and smooth; cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, espresso powder, vanilla and sugar. Stir the egg mixture into the slightly cooled chocolate mixture. Cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then add to batter. Stir the chocolate mixture. Then pour the brownie batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. A 2-inch heart-shaped cutter is perfect for this project.  Place the whole slab of brownies on a large cutting board and start cutting out hearts.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean with a few crumbs attached; do not overbake as you want them to be fudgy! Let cool completely, then cover tightly and chill for several hours or overnight. Chilled brownies are easier to cut. Invert the chilled brownie pan onto a large cutting board, peel off the foil or parchment and cut into squares.

(The brownies should be chilled for this part too).  Melt desired chocolate in a bowl (in the microwave) and stir until smooth.  I used red & white A-Peels for my chocolate, but you can use any.  Brush crumbs off of the top of the brownie and hold onto the sides toward the bottom.  Dunk the tops into the melted chocolate and place on waxed paper to dry (chocolate-side-up).  Sprinkle festive decor on top, if desired.

Recipe via Recipe Girl

These are some of the treats that we liked best, but we encourage you do your own research if you are looking for great Valentine’s Day treat ideas. Do you already have a great Valentine’s Day treat that others would love to know about? Leave your suggestions and instructions in the comments below!

Benefits of Cooking with Coconut Oil

RHIPhoto Credit: littlehouseonthevalley.com 

You may or may not have heard of coconut oil before. It’s not exactly new, but it’s becoming increasingly popular among health fanatics and those who are interested in losing weight. Originally, coconut oil received a bad rap for being high in saturated fat, but we now understand that saturated fat actually has quite a few nutritional values and that it’s really not so bad as we once assumed. On the other hand, coconut oil has many positive traits and can be used for many purposes, even outside of cooking. Groups of people who eat a lot of coconuts and coconut products are much healthier than western civilizations. Cardiovascular health is much higher in these people group. So, if you want to learn more about cooking with coconut and the benefits that it might bring to you and your family, we’ve provided a list of some of the most valuable benefits of cooking with coconut oil.

Helps Control Blood Lipids and Cardiovascular Disease
Unrefined coconut oil improves blood lipid profiles. Coconut oil can maintain appropriate levels of cholesterol, as well. Coconut oil helps to reduce LDL (the bad) cholesterol and it helps to increase HDL (the good) cholesterol. It’s been shown to have a positive impact on blood coagulations and antioxidant status. Coconut oil has also been discovered to ward off the chances of getting heard disease.

Aids in Weight Loss
There is considerable evidence that suggests that coconut oil helps you to lose weight. Compared to other types of cooking oils, coconut oil stands out in aiding weight loss endeavors by those in comparison studies. Coconut oil can increase energy expenditure, lead to a greater level of satiety with the foods cooked in coconut oil, and it can also lead to a greater proportion of weight loss.

Amazing Health Benefits
Coconut oil is likely to turn into ketone bodies in the liver. Ketone bodies can provide energy for the brain and they are especially useful in fighting epilepsy and other various disorders. Furthermore, coconut oil applied to the surfaces of skin acts as a ministrant, on teeth it can act as a natural whitening solution, and can even be used in place of shampoo has a cleanser and restorative treatment for damaged hair.

These are just some of the main benefits that come with heavy usage using coconut oil in the kitchen, but there are many more and we encourage you to do your own research to explore the ways in which coconut oil can be useful for you. Are you an avid coconut user? Let us know what your favorite uses for coconut oil include. Never heard of coconut oil before? Drop us a comment and let us know if you’d be willing to experiment with it for cooking and health purposes.

Kitchen Décor Ideas on a Budget

RHIPhoto Credit: decordesignn.com

When the kitchen becomes cramped or outdated, it can be one of the most frustrating rooms in the house to deal with. Older kitchens usually don’t feature the luxury of space that more contemporary kitchens have. It can make it difficult to cook or find storage room for the household groceries. Even if you do have a kitchen with plenty of storage, an outdated kitchen can feel somewhat depressing and can suck you dry when it comes to finding inspiration for new recipes and meal plans. Yet, the budget doesn’t always allow for kitchen renovations, even when you need them the most. Yet, sometimes even the smallest changes can make a big difference and make the whole cooking and cleaning process much easier. So, if you’re on a budget and don’t have the funds for a complete renovation, check out these tips that can help to make a world of difference in just a few small ways.

Repaint the Cabinetry
One thing that can make a kitchen feel brand new is a new paint job, and we don’t just mean a touch up to the existing paint. Choose a brand new color and fly with it. Feel free to change the color of the walls while you’re at it. If you’re feeling adventurous, choose a bright color such as baby blue or peach to update your cabinets, but whatever you do, try something that will make it feel like a new room by the time you’ve finished, and not just something that will be hardly noticeable.

Rule of One
If you haven’t yet hopped on the DIY bandwagon and or you simply don’t have time for a DIY project, consider finding that one piece of furniture or that one appliance that is just going to transform your kitchen. Instead putting all your resources into a few different small projects, use your budget to by that new fridge, install a new island, or find a new range hood. The one major item can sometimes have a transformative impact on the rest of the kitchen space, making it feel like a new room.

Restyle your Style
As a last resort, you can always rearrange your existing furniture to make the room feel like a new space. Obviously, there may not be any other place for the main items, such as the sink, stove, oven, or fridge, but if you have a mobile kitchen island or enough space to rearrange the kitchen table, you might try to move things around so that you have a change of scenery that effects the whole design of the room.

DIY Creativity
If you’re a creative type and you have some ideas as to what you want to do with your kitchen, consider sacrificing the time and energy to do it yourself. If you don’t have the budget to spend on products and services, just save and purchase some discount supplies to create your own renovations with an emphasis on the creativity.

We know that renovating your kitchen is often something that feels like can’t wait, and we don’t think that you should have to wait. Even if you just do small renovations at a time, those little updates will eventually turn into a whole new kitchen. Do you have experience renovating a space in your house on a budget? What did you do and how did you make the most out of your budget? Let us know in the comments below!

Quick No-Cook Dinner Ideas

Whether it’s a lazy day off or a long days after work, we all have those days where cooking is our last resort.  Sometimes starving seems like a better option than spending all your time and energy in the kitchen for the rest of the night. Cooking means a leftovers to put away, dishes to wash, and appliances to clean and sometimes it’s just too much of a hassle to deal with. Just because you aren’t cooking doesn’t mean you can’t still make something at home, and we have some great ideas for quick and easy no-cook dinners on those nights when cooking just isn’t going to happen.

Create a Main-Course Dinner Salad
Salads are not only delicious, but they are also healthy, and they can make great dinner options when you’re looking for something quick and easy. Stop by the store and grab a head of lettuce (or a pre-leafed salad), a rotisserie chicken or your favorite kind of poultry, and your favorite salad toppings, such as avocado, tomatoes, black beans, corn, etc.  Or, if you already have these ingredients at home, just toss them together and enjoy your no-cook dinner.

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Make a Chicken Avocado Burrito
We have to admit, these are one of our favorite no-cook recipes. If you have some leftover, pre-cooked chicken, or you’re up for grabbing some from the deli at your local supermarket, chicken avocado burritos are a great no-cook dinner solution. Carve up some fresh avocado and stick it into a tortilla with some chicken and you’re all set. Add some cheese or your favorite dressing or hot sauce for added flavor.

RHI2                                         Photo Credit: recipehealthyfood.com

Spaghetti
Okay, so this one is kind of cheating of you consider boiling water to be a form of cooking, but you have to admit that spaghetti is a pretty easy and simple choice when it comes to no-cook dinners. All you have to do is boil some water, add the noodles, and add your favorite spaghetti sauce for a quick and easy dinner plan.

RHI1                                                  Photo Credit: norecipes.com

Chicken and Black Bean Tostadas
We’ve included the option of chicken in this recipe simply because it might add flavor bulk to the tostada, but if you don’t have time to pick up some pre-cooked chicken from the grocery store, this meal will also work as a vegetarian dish. Layer the bottom of the tostada shell with anything from guacamole to your favorite kind of salsa. The toppings are up to you, but some of our suggestions include rice, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese.

RHI3                                                Photo Credit: bettycrocker.com

Italian Vegetable Hoagies
A great Italian sub, all you need for this recipe is the lunch meet of your choice and your preferred sandwich fillings. Some popular options for an Italian sandwich are salami, ham, or pepperoni along with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, and juicy banana peppers.
RHI
                                                    Photo Credit: todaysdiva.com

With the hustle and bustle of daily life it’s good to have a few no-cook options on the back of the menu for those days when cooking just isn’t going to happen. What do you think of these recipe choices? Do you have any other great ideas for no-cook meals? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

Tips to Keep Your Kitchen Organized

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a large kitchen with plenty of storage. If you live in a studio apartment or loft, or if you have a home that is fairly old and never came with much storage to begin with, space might be a problem. While not everyone has the time and budget to begin a new kitchen project and renovate to add space, something that anyone can do is make a few tweaks to your space that can give you more room and make the kitchen feel less cramped and crowded. If you need more space in your kitchen, check out the following tips on how to keep your kitchen organized and create a more spacious feel when cooking and baking.

Find a Lazy Susan
If you’ve run out of space in the pantry or cupboards but you still have seasonings and sauces that are left without a home, find a Lazy Susan to store them on. Even if you don’t have room on the table, a double-layered Lazy Susan will be able to fit twice as many items in half the counter space and will help your kitchen have a more organized and clean appearance.

RHI    Photo Credit: realsimple.com

Start Hanging
There’s only so much room for things like dish towels, cooking aprons, oven mitts, and recipe books. If you’re beginning to find that the small amount of storage space that you actually do have is being taken up by non-essentials, find some shelves that can be mounted to the wall or some racks where things can hang instead of using up valuable drawer and cabinet space.

RHI1                                                    Photo Credit: realsimple.com

Store Tools more Efficiently
If you have large items that just don’t seem to fit anywhere, such as pitchers or strainers, set these items out and use them strategically. Items that go without frequent use can be used to store other items, like cooking utensils or measuring tools.

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Photo Credit: realsimple.com

Utilize the Inside of Doors
If possible, try to add additional storage space on the inside of pantry and cupboard doors. Shoe organizers can be transformed into pocket pouches for food items for your pantry. Small wire shelving can be used on the inside of cupboard doors to add storage for small items such as seasonings or elongated utensils.

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Photo Credit: realsimple.com

Use a Cart
If you have additional space where a small, roll-able cart can sit, purchase a simple cart and use it for all those big items that just can’t go anywhere else. This can be a great way to optimize storage space, and after a while it will seem like just another part of the kitchen and will stop feeling like something in the way.

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Photo Credit: realsimple.com

Do you have any other great ways for maximizing storage space and making your kitchen seem ultimately making your kitchen seem bigger? Leave your feedback and suggestions in the comments below and let us know what about your favorite kitchen organizing strategies.

Tips for Kitchen Fire Safety

Fire PicPhoto Credit: elitecareemergency.com

If you spend a lot of time in your kitchen preparing meals, it’s probably a good idea to brush up on your fire safety tips every now and then. It may seem like one of those things that will never happen – maybe you’ve never even made the smoke alarm go off due to cooking, but kitchen fires remain one of the most common ways for residential fires to ignite. Fires are more likely to start when family and friends are joined together for parties or other festive get-togethers, such as birthdays, baptisms, coronations, etc. So if you have a large family that loves to have frequent gatherings at your place, or you’ve simply never taken the time to learn about kitchen fire safety, check out the following tips.

  1. Stay in the room when you are grilling, frying, or boiling food.
    If you’re a frequent cook, let alone a decent cook, you probably feel pretty confident in the kitchen. You know which gadgets to use for each part of the meal in progress and you probably have several different things cooking at once because you’re just that good. Yet, one thing that comes with being comfortable in the kitchen is a little too much comfort. It can be easy to feel like everything should be fine if you leave the room for a minute or two, but you should never leave the room with the stove on, no matter how short a time you’ll be gone. If you have to leave the kitchen for any reason at all during cooking, it’s a good idea to turn off the stove while you’re gone.
  1. Use a timer when cooking or baking.
    Even the best of us and can get sidetracked and forget that there’s something in the oven or slow-cooking on the stove. Have a small timer ready in the kitchen and get in the habit of using it when you’re cooking or baking. Even if you normally remember on your own, it can be a great reminder and prevents something from catching fire in the split second that you turn to do something else.
  1. Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove top.
    This includes when the stove is both on and when the stove is turned off. As a general rule, nothing but pots and pans should ever make contact with the stove. Potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, dish towels, recipe books, and plastic bags are all things that might be tempting to set on the stove, but it’s best to set them somewhere else.
  1. Keep your kitchen appliances clean.
    This includes the oven, stovetop, burners, and range hood. Frequent cooking causes food particles and debris to buildup on the surfaces of the kitchen appliances that are used. This buildup can later and become the cause of a kitchen fire in your home.
  1. Never use extension cords in the kitchen.
    All additional kitchen appliances, such as the microwave or toaster oven should be plugged into a wall outlet directly. If it doesn’t naturally reach the outlet, it’s best to rearrange your kitchen so that it can. Using extension cords in the kitchen can overload the circuit and increase the chances of a fire.
  1. Turn the pot handles toward the center of the stove.
    It seems like a no brainer, but people (and often times, children) walk into the handles of the pots and pans on the stove when they are not looking or paying attention. This is one of the biggest causes for serious burns that happen in the kitchen, and it can also help prevent kitchen fires.

These are some of the best ways we know about to prevent kitchen fires as a result of cooking or baking. Do you know of any other great tips that can help prevent fires or other similar accidents in the kitchen? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Install a Filter on Your Kitchen Sink

BlogPhoto Credit: YouTube.com

Have you ever considered installing a water filter on your kitchen sink so that you can pour a fresh glass of water right from your kitchen sink faucet instead of constantly buying purified water or boiling water in order to cleanse it before consumption? Sure, there are pitchers that come with water filters, but those can only purify so much water at a time, and what happens when you need a cool glass of water but you go to pour some from the pitcher in the fridge and realize that the last person left it completely empty without refilling it? It may seem like a daunting task, but we promise you that once the filter has been installed, it will ultimately save you more time and energy than you currently realize.

Step One: Shut off the main water valve
To begin, you’ll want to make sure that the main valve for the cold water supply to the kitchen is shut off. You can usually find the shutoff valve in the basement, crawl space, or utility closet. If you can’t shut off only the kitchen’s water supply, then you’ll need to make sure that your home’s entire water supply is shut off for the time you’re working on installing the water filter. Make sure to let out any water trapped in the pipe between the sink before you begin.

Step Two: Cut into the water-supply line
Make sure the sink cabinet is empty and spread a tarp or an old blanket on the cabinet floor to catch any water that is released while you work. Once you locate the cold-water shut off valve under the sink, take a piece of emery cloth and buff clean the copper tubing just directly below the valve. Use a close-quarters tubing cutter to remove a 1-inch-long section of tubing and discard. Brush flux onto the freshly cut tubing ends and a ½-inch copper tee fitting. Slip the tee onto the tubing below the shutoff valve and solder it in place. Be sure to protect the cabinet with a fire-resistant cloth or metal shield.

Step Three: Solder on a new shut-off valve
Fit a ½-inch ball valve to two pieces of copper tubing and a female adapter, as illustrated at far left. Solder the assembly together before installing it under the sink, for maximum safety. Work from the bottom up, first soldering the copper tubing to the ball valve, then the ball valve to the next bit of tubing, and finally the tubing to the female adapter. Fit the assembly onto the tee fitting coming off the cold-water supply with a 90-degree elbow. Solder both ends of the elbow in place. Wrap Teflon tape around the reducer fitting and thread it into the top of the female adapter. Hold the adapter with pliers while tightening the reducer with a wrench.

Step Four: Drill a hole for the new filter faucet
Measure and mark a hole location for the filter’s faucet on the sink deck. Drill a ½-inch-diameter hole through the stainless steel deck with a step drill. Each graduated step on the bit is 1/8 inch wider in diameter than the previous step.

Step Five: Install the filter faucet
After drilling the faucet hole, use a wet/dry vacuum to collect the metal chips from the sink top and from inside the cabinet. Now place the washer, aluminum base (escutcheon), and rubber gasket onto the threaded stem of the filter faucet. Slip the faucet into the hole and make sure it sits flat on top of the sink deck. From inside the cabinet, reach up and place the mounting bracket, lock washer, and hex nut on the faucet’s stem. Tighten the hex nut carefully with a basin wrench to secure the faucet.

Step Six: Attach the plastic tubing to the filter
Remove the plastic cover from the top of the filter and install the 9V battery, which powers the electronic filter monitor. Next, cut a length of the plastic tubing that comes with the filter kit to reach from the reducer fitting on the cold-water supply line to the filter’s mounting location on the back wall of the cabinet. Push one end of the tubing onto the inlet fitting on the left side of the filter. Cut another length of tubing long enough to extend from the outlet fitting on the right side of the filter up to the faucet stem.

Step Seven: Mount the filter in the cabinet
Select a spot on the back wall of the sink base cabinet to mount the filter; mark two screw holes, spaced to match the keyhole slots on the back of the filter. Drive a screw into each hole; stop when the screw heads are about ½ inch from the cabinet’s surface. Align the keyhole slots with the two mounting screws. Push the filter flat against the cabinet wall, then pull down to lock the keyhole slots onto the screw heads.

Step Eight: Connect the filter’s water-supply tubing
Attach a compression fitting onto the end of the plastic tubing that’s connected to the inlet side of the filter. Thread the compression fitting onto the reducer that’s attached to the cold-water supply line; tighten the fitting with a wrench while holding the reducer with pliers. Connect the other length of tubing to the outlet side of the filter and to the faucet stem, using a compression fitting. Open all the shutoff valves and check your work for leaks. Remove the aerator from the sink’s faucet and turn on the cold water for a minute or two to flush out any flux. Finally, open the filter faucet and let it run for five minutes to remove air and carbon particles from the cartridges.

Instructions brought to you by: This Old House

What did you think? Were these instructions simple and easy to follow? Did you successfully install your own water filter? Do you have a better way of installing the necessary hardware? Leave your suggestions and feedback in the comments section below!

Healthy & Delicious Recipes to Start Your New Year Off Right

So, it’s the New Year, and you’ve decided to create a new and better you. One of the most popular New Year resolutions is to transform one’s lifestyle into something that blends a perfect mixture of diet and exercise to create a healthier, more fulfilling sense of self. While you may already have an exercise routine down, making the right choices where meals come in is always a tough one. Not only do you have fight off those negative cravings, but you also have to find ways to supplement your previously less than wholesome diet with something that is much more nutrient-rich and wholesome. Not only do you have to mind the nutritious value of what you consume, but it helps to have some tasty meals that won’t have you spending all day in the kitchen. Check out these fast, fun and delicious healthy recipes and let us help you get the New Year off to a bright start!

Warm Brussels Sprout Salad
Greens are a fundamental part of eating healthily, and this salad is a delicious way to get those greens. Brussels sprouts can be delicious, even when you’re not a traditional brussels sprout lover, and we promise this salad will have you smiling by the time you finish.

Healthy                                                 Photo Credit: abeautifulmess.com

Ingredients:
1/2 french loaf cut into large cubes (I used a wheat loaf, you could use any bread you like)
1 lb. brussels sprouts
2/3 cup craisins
1/4 cup mayo
4 garlic cloves
1 lime
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (or more if you like a real kick!)
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons olive oil
salt + pepper to taste

Instructions:
In a food processor give the brussels a few pulses, so they are partially shredded and partially rough chopped. I have a smaller food processor, so I had to do this in three batches. Once all the brussels are chopped, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the brussels, tossing occasionally, until bright green and cooked through (about 6-8 minutes). During the last few minutes of cooking toss in the craisins so they’ll be nice and warm along with the brussels.While that cooks, in the food processor (again) combine the mayo, garlic and juice from the lime. Pulse the ingredients together until well combined. With the processor still running, drizzle in 1/4 cup olive oil. Taste and add salt + pepper as needed.Once you have the bread cut into large cubes toss in a few tablespoons olive oil. Spread in one layer on a baking sheet and season with a little salt + pepper. Bake at 375°F until brown and crispy (8-10 minutes).Once the brussels are cooked toss with the dressing. Add in the croutons and give everything a nice toss. Serve warm. If you like your salad even more creamy you could easily double the amount of dressing the above recipe calls for. Enjoy!

Recipe via A Beautiful Mess

Lemon-Butter Grouper Fish Tacos
Nothing says “diet” like a taco Tuesday party that you can’t join, but with this delicious recipe, you’ll never have to miss out again. And for the general taco lovers out there, this is the perfect dinner for any night!

Healthy2                                                     Photo Credit: averiecooks.com

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons butter
flour, for lightly dredging and coating fish
2 large grouper filets (about 1 1/2 pounds)
juice of 1 lemon, about 3 to 4 tablespoons
salt and pepper, to taste
taco or fajita shells
1 cup romaine or iceburg lettuce, chopped
1 tomato, diced
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterrey Jack, etc.)
1/4 cup grainy dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:
To a large skillet, add the butter and heat over medium-high heat to melt butter.
Dredge fish through flour, coating both sides.
Add fish to skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on first side, or until nicely seared and lightly golden browned.
Flip fish, season with salt and pepper, squeeze the lemon over the fish (use caution because the lemon juice will bubble up when it hits the hot skillet) and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes on second side, or until fish is lightly golden browned on both sides and cooked through. Serve immediately if desired.
To make the fish tacos,  lightly warm each taco shell momentarily on a dry skillet over medium-high heat before adding lettuce, sliced fish, sprinkling with tomatoes, and cheese; set aside while you make the sauce.
To a small bowl, add the mustard, honey, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and whisk to combine. Taste, check for flavor balance, and make any desired tweaks. Drizzle sauce over tacos and serve immediately. Fish will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 3 days and sauce will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Recipe via Averie Cooks

Healthy Banana Muffins
When it comes to breakfast, muffins are a national favorite, and these banana muffins are certainly up to standard. Whether they’re freshly baked on the morning you’re ready for them, or they’re stored for later for a quick morning meal, these muffins are sure to hit the spot wherever you are.

Healthy3                                                Photo Credit: cookieandkate.com

Ingredients:
⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup maple syrup or honey
2 eggs, preferably at room temperature
1 cup packed mashed ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
¼ cup milk of choice (I used almond milk)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling on top
1¾ cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
⅓ cup old-fashioned oats, plus more for sprinkling on top
1 teaspoon turbinado (raw) sugar or other granulated sugar, for sprinkling on top

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius). If necessary, grease 11 cups of your muffin tin with butter or non-stick cooking spray (my pan is non-stick and didn’t require any grease).
In a large bowl, beat the coconut oil and maple syrup or honey together with a whisk. Add eggs and beat well. Mix in the mashed bananas and milk, followed by the baking soda, vanilla extract, salt and cinnamon.
Add the flour and oats to the bowl and mix with a large spoon, just until combined. If you’d like to add any additional mix-ins, like nuts, chocolate or dried fruit, fold them in now.
Divide the batter evenly between the 11 muffin cups, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a small amount of oats (about 1 tablespoon), followed by a light sprinkling of sugar (about 1 teaspoon). Bake muffins for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack to cool. You might need to run a butter knife along the outer edge of the muffins to loosen them from the pan. Enjoy muffins as is or with a spread of nut butter or regular butter.

Recipe via Cookie and Kate

Black Bean Burrito with Guacamole
If you’ve got a craving for a burrito and you’re about to go off track, take a minute and breathe! This delicious black bean burrito with guacamole can be just the thing you were hoping for without all the fat and calories.

Healthy4                                                Photo Credit: naturallyella.com

Ingredients:
Guacamole
2 ripe avocados
¼ cup minced red onion (see note)
¼ cup minced cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
1 lime

Burrito
2 large whole wheat flour tortillas
½ cup cooked brown rice
½ can black beans, drained and rinsed if using canned
⅓ cup shredded Cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
½ cup shredded lettuce
3 tablespoons minced red onion

Instructions:
To make guacamole, slice avocado in half around the pit and spoon out the avocado into a bowl. Add in the onion, cilantro, garlic, and salt. Cut the lime in half and squeeze 1 to 2 tablespoons of lime juice over the guacamole and stir. Taste and adjust salt/lime juice as needed.
Spread about ¼ to ⅓ cup guacamole in the center of the tortilla. Layer half the rice, beans, cheese, lettuce, and onions on top of the guacamole. Roll into a burrito (see note) and tuck in the ends.
Heat a grill pan or panini press over low heat and place the burritos seem side down. Place a weight on top and let cook until tortilla is browning and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Serve with remaining guacamole or salsa.

Variations for the Black Bean Burrito
I’m usually unwavering when it comes to changes in this burrito because I’m a guacamole lover. However, there have been a few variations throughout the years that can work with what you might already have on hand.
Tomatoes: the original recipe called for tomatoes both in the guacamole and in the burrito but I tomatoes are one of those items I really don’t eat during the winter and I don’t really add to my guacamole anymore. However, feel free to add them back in if desired.
Vegan: I love that the black bean burrito is heated long enough to make the tortilla crispy and start to melt the cheese but the cheese isn’t going to make or break the burrito. Feel free to ditch to keep it vegan.
Homemade Tortillas: If you have a bit of extra time, try your hand at some homemade flour tortillas.

Recipe via Naturally Ella

These are just a few of the many health-conscious recipes that are not only nutritious, but also delicious. Just because you’ve decided to change your lifestyle and do things a bit differently it doesn’t mean that you have to starve or deprive yourself of good things. These recipes are wholesome and will make you feel like you’re not missing out on anything. Have other great recipes you’d like to share? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!