All Entries For treats

6 D.I.Y. Healthy Donuts

My love of donuts started on my sixth birthday, when my parents bought me donuts instead of a birthday cake. Ten years later my parents led my family through a pretty amazing lifestyle change that included diet and exercise. I’ll never forget walking into a well-known donut chain where you could watch them come off the line. My Mom and I asked for one without icing. They were shocked at the request, not able to comprehend. After convincing them we were serious about the no icing request, we asked for three. They delivered three dozen to the register.

Apparently, customers order them by the dozen there. This got me thinking how to enjoy the warm soft sweetness of donuts without the fat, calories and sugar of the traditional recipe. Here’s what I learned: start by substituting whole wheat flour, then use plain yogurt instead of oil and butter. Add natural ingredients—like berries, pumpkin, and banana—to add nutritional sweetness. Have fun with toppings too, using lemon zest, orange zest, cinnamon sugar, or add icing in moderation. Try baking instead of frying or make smaller ones to help with portion control. If you don’t own a donut pan, try a muffin pan instead. Donuts are a wonderful treat, but these recipes give you all the flavor, but not wreck your health goals. 
Posted 5/14/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 66 comments   488,940 views
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7 Homemade Girl Scout Cookie Recipes

I was a Girl Scout all the way through high school graduation. My grandmother and mother were troop leaders, and my mom earned a 25 year award for her commitment to scouting. We love the Girl Scouts in my family.

One of my least favorite parts of scouting was also one of my favorites: the cookies! I detest selling things to this day, so I never won any cookie awards. But I sure did love eating them! Now that I have the metabolism of a 30-something woman rather than a kid, I'm not going to be downing sleeves of Thin Mints like I did back then, but I do still enjoy them.

I just moved to rural North Carolina, where I don't know any Girl Scouts, so there will be no cookies for me this year. I might instead whip up a batch of these Girl Scout clone recipes (with some healthy ingredient swaps, perhaps?). We've rounded up seven homemade Girl Scout cookie recipes!

Posted 2/28/2013  9:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 61 comments   124,663 views
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7 Reasons You Can Feel Good about Eating Chocolate Today

Chances are good that you'll encounter chocolate at some point today. Chocolate has earned a bad rap as a guilty pleasure, but this superfood has some pretty amazing health benefits. We think you should feel good about eating chocolate--the dark variety, in moderate portions. Here's why:

1. Chocolate contains more than 300 chemicals, including phenyethylamine, an amphetamine-like substance that simulates the feeling of falling in love. Is there any more appropriate day than today to eat a treat that makes you feel like you're in love?

2. If you're feeling a bit glum, chocolate can boost your spirits and dull your pain, thanks to b-endorphin, a naturally occurring chemical similar to opium.
Posted 2/14/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 33 comments   14,591 views
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4-Ingredient Chocolate Tarts (Only 63 Calories)

This no-cook treat is a quick way to satisfy a craving for chocolate and cheesecake. We think it's perfect for Valentine's Day! With just four ingredients and five minutes of prep time, you'll love this not-too-sweet treat.

We used Nabisco chocolate wafer cookies. You want a very thin cookie, but you could also try a chocolate graham cracker (1 sheet=4 tarts). You could swap in your favorite fruit (such as blueberries or even kiwi) for the raspberries.
Posted 2/13/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 12 comments   21,746 views
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How Many Calories Are in Your Favorite Valentine's Treats?

Whether you're single, taken, or somewhere in-between this Valentine's Day, one thing is for certain: You're bound to be bombarded with chocolate. From the office candy jar, to the red and pink display in the grocery store, there's no escaping decadent truffles, chocolate-covered strawberries, and other pretty, sugary delights. The good news is that it you can have your chocolate and eat it, too, as long as you know what to choose! If you had a choice between three pieces of Godiva chocolate or five Hershey's Kisses, which would be the slimmer pick?
Posted 2/9/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Melinda Hershey : 50 comments   37,006 views
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What You Need to Know about Nectresse, the Zero-Calorie Sweetener

I turned the corner and headed down aisle #6--the baking section of my local grocery store--eyes peeled for the "new kid" on the shelf. The new zero-calorie sweetener, Nectresse from the makers of Splenda.  There it was, in canister and packet form. The label read: "100% natural" and "made from monk fruit."  Really?  100% natural?  Made from monk fruit? 
Now, it was time to investigate.
What is monk fruit?  Monk fruit (a dark-green, plum size fruit) comes from the plant, Siraitia grosvenorii, which is native to southern China and northern Thailand. The fruit also goes by the names Swingle fruit, Buddha fruit, luo han guo or luo han kuo. This fruit is noted for its intense sweetness, which comes from naturally occurring sweet constituents called mogrosides. In pure form, mogrosides are up to 300 times sweeter than table sugar.  There are five different mogrosides, numbered from I to V, with mogroside V being the desired component.  To remove the interfering components and aromas, manufacturers used an ethanol solvent solution
How do they extract the sweetener? The end product is a powdered concentrate of mogroside V which is about 150 times sweeter than table sugar (depending on the mogroside V concentration).  This non-nutritive sweetener is calorie-free and diabetic-safe, as it does not raise blood sugar levels.  The powdered concentrate is very soluble in water and ethanol, heat stable, and can be stored for long periods of time without changes in taste, smell, or appearance.  
Is it safe to eat? It is classified by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS).  Therefore, it can be used as a tabletop sweetener, as a food and beverage ingredient (gums, baked goods, snack bars, candy, drinks, etc), or as a component in other sweetener blends (since it may have an aftertaste at higher levels on its own).  There is very preliminary research investigating possible health benefits—anti-cancer properties, antioxidant activities, benefits for diabetes with insulin production.  However, much more research is needed before any health claims can be made.
What is in Nectresse? And is it 100% natural?
Posted 1/18/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Becky Hand : 60 comments   31,118 views
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Swap the Starbucks: 17 Skinnier Recipes Worth Sipping

The modern coffee house has become the de facto office space for thousands of work-from-home Americans, including yours truly.  When I need to change of scenery or to interact in-person with other human beings, my local java joint is my go-to option.  The people-watching is decent and I will often bump into a friend, which approximates the traditional water-cooler conversation. It’s also a place for nutritional choices and I often find myself struggling to stick to the program. Whether it’s the sweet aromas or the attractive displays, many of the items in the forefront are loaded with calories and easily put me over the top on my daily sugar intake. not to mention how terrible I feel later.  Even worse are the hidden calories in my original favorite drink, the latte. I thought I was being so healthy, because there was no minimal sugar, only to find out how many calories are in the deceptively large servings. I am happy to share, however, that I have learned a lot over the last year to take control of the coffee house menu to make it work for me and my health needs. 
Posted 12/13/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 26 comments   105,605 views
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13 Tips to Ensure Your Cookies Turn Out Perfectly

Thinking back to your childhood, what part of the holidays do you remember the most?  Seeing people kiss under the mistletoe, sipping hot chocolate after an afternoon of sledding, or opening presents under a real tree?  Heck no!  It’s the cookies your mom or grandmother made.  The baked treats were so much a part of the holiday that my siblings actually bickered over who would get my mom’s tins that she stored the baked goods in before the holiday.

Let’s face it. The winter holidays are so stressful and busy. If we make a commitment to bake cookies we want it to be fun, we need the recipes to be simple, and most importantly outcomes to be successful.  When you invest time and money into baking supplies for cookies, you want them to come out perfect, right? 

Stress no more. I've answered all your baking questions below, pondered all the "what-ifs" when it comes to making cookies, and even provided you with a brand-new, healthier, no-fail holiday cookie recipe, too!
Read This before You Bake:
Posted 12/3/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 10 comments   20,469 views
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Even Dietitians Have a Vice (Bidding Adieu to Ho-Hos)

If you recently thought you heard some strange, frantic scream coming from the direction of southeastern Indiana, you were right. Your ears were not deceiving you.  It was me, Dietitian Becky, mourning the death of my dear friend, the Ho-Hos.  I am not the only one in mourning. In fact, nutrition professor and food activist Marion Nestle is doing the same

It was actually my teenage son who informed me recently of this crisis. He keeps me up-to-date on most of the tragedies of the world.  ''Hey, Mom,'' he asked, ''What are you going to do without your Ho-Hos?'' 

''Without my Ho-Hos?  What the heck are you talking about?'' I responded.

If you haven’t heard, Hostess Brands is in deep financial trouble, closing plants, and wants to sell off its brands. It has been reported that more than 18,500 people will lose their jobs and full liquidation is expected since mediation with the striking bakers’ union has failed.   Bye-bye Twinkies, so long Ho-Hos, sayonara Sno Balls! 

While there isn’t a package of these Hostess products currently in my pantry and I didn't storm the supermarket the way others have, they have been known to appear from time to time.  

While I was never a fan of the golden sponge cake with creamy filling known as Twinkies, I adored those cylindrical, frosted, cream-filled cakes. As a child, these Ho-Hos were not found in my Flintstones lunch box often--mom said they were too expense and she made cookies weekly for my school lunch treat.  However, on special occasions, those Ho-Hos would show up to brighten my school day.  Heck, yes, I would get requests to trade, but nothing was worth giving up my Ho-Hos.  Except when I entered fourth grade and would share one (just one!) of the Ho-Hos with my beau, Terry.

Today, as a Registered Dietitian, I really can’t report much nutritional value of these Hostess goodies. But they do teach perhaps another lesson (or two)! 
Posted 11/30/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Becky Hand : 88 comments   23,531 views
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The Apple Pie You Gotta Wrap Your Hands Around

This Thanksgiving, you can put away the pie server, the pie plate, and even those forks because the pie you'll be serving up is of the grab-and-go variety--though it's so delicious you'll want to sit and linger over it!
Just like petite pies in mini muffin tins were popular last year, this year it's all about hand pies. These tasty, versatile treats are perfect as a dessert after a holiday meal, in a lunch box or as after school treat. They're also a great single-serving dessert for all the holiday open house parties. If you remember the personal size fruit pies from your youth, fear not: I've cut more than half the calories and fat. 
Chef Meg's Apple Hand Pie National Brand Apple Hand Pie
161 calories 470 calories
9 grams fat 20 grams fat
In addition to traditional fruit pies, you can turn these into portable lunches, too. Savory or sweet, these pies are easy to make and easier to eat! And they only take eight minutes to bake and 15 to prep. Let's get started!
Posted 11/12/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Meg Galvin : 19 comments   14,319 views
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Don't Be Tricked by This Sweet Halloween Treat!

Halloween candy can be downright scary. All of those colorful ''fun-sized'' bars may tempt you to have just one piece, but beware—those tiny, innocent-looking treats can add up if you're not careful! Some people forgo the chocolate candies altogether in favor of low-fat choices, such as Starbursts and Twizzlers, thinking that they are doing their waistlines a favor. But does low-fat always mean low-sugar? If you were to choose between a chocolaty fun-sized bag of peanut M&Ms and a serving of Twizzlers, which one would be the least sugary choice?
Posted 10/27/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Melinda Hershey : 21 comments   21,468 views
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Food Showdown: Know Before You FroYo

It's safe to say that the frozen yogurt trend has taken the US by storm—and it doesn't show any signs of stopping. Several ''FroYo'' franchises have cropped up over the past few years, including Pinkberry, Red Mango, Orange Leaf, and many others with tasty names and even tastier flavor and topping offerings. Some of these yogurt shops claim that their product is a healthier alternative to ice cream, made with ''all-natural,'' wholesome ingredients, including good-for-you probiotic cultures to balance your digestive system. But can you believe the hype? Between two big-name frozen yogurt chains, Pinkberry and Red Mango, which has the most ''natural'' yogurt with the fewest ingredients?
Posted 8/4/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Melinda Hershey : 33 comments   38,837 views
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Burn It Off: How Much Hopping to Undo a Chocolate Bunny?

Earlier this week, I was reading about the 10 Easter treats I could enjoy for 100 calories or less. I won't lie: I really, really wanted to eat some (OK, all) of that candy. I've previously shared that I have a major sweet tooth, so anything sugary sweet is always a temptation for me. But I try to eat healthy most of the time and keep my portions of sweets and treats small.

One thing that does keep me from overdoing it on "extras" like Easter candy is to think about how much exercise it would really take to work off those calories. So, going with our Easter theme today, the exercise of choice is hopping (aka jumping). Whether you're jumping rope, performing box jumps or following my Jump Start Cardio workout, hopping around is hard work. It's intense and it burns a lot of calories, but it's far from easy.

So how much bunny hopping (in the form of a jumping jack) would it take to undo a standard milk chocolate bunny?
Posted 4/22/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 64 comments   23,351 views
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Tips for a Healthier Spring Candy Fling

Candy tempts me just as it does everyone else, especially when it is chocolate. Estimates suggest that Americans spend over $2 billion a year on Easter candy making it the third largest candy-consuming holiday. In a SparkPeople poll asking which Easter candy is most tempting, Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs are the leader. They are the most tempting to me too especially after Easter when they are on the clearance table!
Many of us have a love-hate relationship with chocolate. We love the melt-in-your-mouth texture and flavor of chocolate especially when we enjoy it with family and friends during celebrations. We hate the guilt that loving it brings as well as the potential damage it can do to our weight loss goals. With Easter only a few days away, the clearance candy is not far behind. Here are some strategies to help keep your spring candy fling in check.
Posted 4/5/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 29 comments   10,703 views
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Cool Infographic: How Kids Consume Food Marketing

As some of you may remember, Coach Tanya recently blogged about how First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined celebrity chef Rachael Ray and announced last month that there will be changes to the school lunch program. To help support these new nutritional standards in schools, has created and shared the following infographic with statistics that share lifestyle, consumption, and media activity relating to children, which contribute to obesity in childhood (and for some, into adulthood).

Posted 2/16/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Denise Tausig : 22 comments   15,028 views
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