Snacking Healthier with Vita Tops + 10 Easy and Transportable Snacks to Curb Cravings

by Jessica Randhawa in , , , ,


Why a busy schedule doesn't have to mean poor, boring snack choices. Sharing why VitaTops Muffin Tops are my new favorite sweet and healthy snack + 10 other quick, easy and transportable snack ideas to curb pesky cravings.

Grab your own $1.00-off coupon for VitaTops here!
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If you know me at all, then you know how much I love a good run and a good cookie. I may even go so far and say that I love a good run more than cookies which is total crazy talk since I will never turn down a cookie. So, when I got hit with the flu last month (again) I was not a happy camper. Usually the stubborn, obsessive, type-A voice inside my head will push me to continue my workouts, but this sickness was different.

Oh boy was this sickness different...

Finally, just four weeks later, I am back from the land of the living dead after the worst flu-season ever.

During those four weeks I exercised three times and continued to eat whatever I wanted. You guys, my body is not happy with me. Too much sugar (have you seen my last two posts? They were good ones, but definitely not easy on the sugar) and not enough greens. I'm back to my handfuls of chocolate covered peanuts for breakfast and lunch (because I have no time to eat real food) and chocolate bark brownies for dessert.

Usually, I eat and live a fairly balanced lifestyle. I eat loads of fruit and veggies, whole grains, and lean protein; but, I enjoy dessert after my little energizer bunny is fast asleep and I finally put my feet up for the first time in 16 hours.

This past month has not been balanced.

Since I already know how to eat super healthy for breakfast, lunch and dinner, my obvious weakness is snacking. Especially when life gets in the way and prevents me from actually eating a real breakfast or lunch.

It's not as easy as it seems. I am a mom, wife, full-time blogger (this is a real 40+ hour/week thing) and self-admitted exercise addict (when I have the time). My days are spent running errands, cleaning, chasing after my child, cooking, photographing, editing, writing and managing a home so that my family can live a semi-organized life. Oh, and I try to work out once a day (because it keeps me sane).

I don't sit to eat my food. Until dinner time, that is. Dinner time is sacred time for me and my family. But, I digress.

To break my unhealthy snacking habits, I need to have healthy, easy, yummy and PORTABLE snacks ready to go at all times. So that I never forget what healthy snack options are out there, I've made a list (and even photographed some of them).

I'm a visual learner, after all :)

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Healthy Snacks to Curb Cravings


  1. Vita Tops Muffin Tops | These made the top of the list because they are perfect for all those times that I find myself reaching for chunks of chocolate or leftover brownies at 7am. These little muffin tops are seriously delicious and super fudgy. Made from clean and simple ingredients and between just 100-150 calories each, they offer a wide range of health benefits (like protein and fiber!) Found in the frozen section at my local Target store, each muffin top comes individually wrapped, making them a breeze to pack away for an easy snack or sweet and healthy treat. You don't believe me? Grab a $1.00-off coupon and give them a try.

  2. Trail Mix | Seriously, go nutty! Mix in all your favorite nuts, seeds or dried fruit. Use caution, however; many dried fruits have added sugar aaaaand too much of a good thing isn't always a good thing.

  3. Cheese and Turkey Roll-ups | You can also roll leftover sliced chicken breast in deli-sliced cheese. A fantastic way to boost your protein intake and stay full longer.

  4. Hard-boiled eggs | Prep a whole batch on Sunday night and munch on these the rest of the week.

  5. Hummus with Veggie Sticks | You can never go wrong with veggies and hummus. Toss a few tablespoons of hummus in a small mason jar and the veggies in a plastic bag and you're good to go!

  6. Fruit | Really, you can't go wrong with a classic piece of fruit. Plus, summer is coming! Oh the watermelon!!!

  7. Tomato and Cheese Skewers | Keep life simple and just chop up some cheese sticks. Pack some in your kids' lunchbox and set a few aside for yourself.

  8. Edamame | Two words- protein and fiber.

  9. Yogurt Parfaits with Fruit and Granola | The key here is portion size and purchasing plain yogurt. Also, granola, watch out for some of the store bought granola sugar traps (you can try my naturally sweetened granola).

  10. Smoothies: Pack in the fruit, sneak in those veggies, add some unsweetened yogurt and you're all set.

Don't mind if I do...

VitaTops come in a variety of flavors including: Deep Chocolate, Wild Blueberry, Superfood CranBran, Chocolate Lovers Protein Peanut Butter Chip and Protein Banana Chocolate Chip.

I found my VitaTopDeep Chocolate at Target (sadly, they were all sold out of the Blueberry). You can find yours at your nearest Publix, Kroger, Stop & Shop, Shop-Rite or Target locations or locate your nearest VitaTop carrier here.

And, since saving money is awesome, grab a $1.00-off coupon for your very own box of VitaTops muffins to try out.

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Rainbow Sprinkle Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie + A Celebration

by Jessica Randhawa in ,


Today, I turned two.

Ok, not literally. That would be impossible and very weird. No, today marks the two year anniversary since my stroke. At this very moment, two years ago, I was just arriving at the emergency room unable to walk, unable to talk, and completely unsure of what my future held.

Two years ago my attitude toward life changed forever.

That said, even two years later I still haven't quite sorted through the whole event. With no known cause or risk factors, I have found it hard to move on without counting down the days until the next one.

As a result, I will never take this life for granted again. Not one moment. 

So today I celebrated with a giant cookie, extra rainbow sprinkles and ice cream.

Of course, there is so much more to write about a day as heavy and happy as this, but for now I prefer to express myself through food and quiet thought during much-needed long runs.

Rainbow Sprinkle Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie with Browned Butter

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 15-25 minutes
Total Time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: 1 serving
...Just Kidding! at least 4 servings
Type: Dessert + Sweets, Chocolate, Cookie

Ingredients

6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons plain Greek yogurt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking sida
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup milk chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
Ice cream + Fresh sliced strawberries, if desired

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Heat a 6-9 inch oven-safe skillet over medium high heat. Add the butter and and allow to fully melt and start the browning process (note: I browned my butter in the pictured dark cast iron skillet. If you're never browned butter before, I would suggest browning the butter in a lighter skillet the first couple times to prevent burning the butter). Once the butter has melted, it with foam up and bubble. Keep a constant eye on the butter, stirring every few seconds with a rubber spatula. Once the bubbling decreases, little golden brown specks will start to appear at the bottom of the pan and the butter will start to small nutty. Immediately remove your butter from the heat and carefully transfer to a mixing bowl to prevent further cooking. Allow the butter to cool for 2-3 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt until fully incorporated. Set aside.

  4. Once butter has cooled slightly, whisk in both the dark brown sugar and the granulated sugar and mix until fully combined.

  5. Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk for 2-3 minutes or until mixture is fully incorporated. Stir in the Greek yogurt.

  6. With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, gently mix the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients, mixing only until just combined. Gently fold in the dark and milk chocolate chunks and the rainbow sprinkles.

  7. Careful not to burn your hand on the skillet's handle, spread the cookie batter evenly into your skillet. Sprinkle the top with additional chocolate chips, rainbow sprinkles and sea salt (if desired). Bake for 15-25 minutes, or until edges are golden brown, and center is nearly cooked but slightly gooey. 

  8. Once cookie is baked to desired doneness, remove from oven and top with ice cream or wait 5-10 minutes, allowing the cookie to set, and slice like a pie.

Enjoy!

*Note: The larger the skillet you use, the less baking time will be required.

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Chocolate Bark Easter Brownies

by Jessica Randhawa in , ,


Hey! you guys! Since it's Monday, I made chocolate. But not just your average, regular chocolate. No way.

Mondays call for rich, gooey, decadent, and (obviously) delicious Chocolate Brownie Bars. Now, don't be fooled by the Easter decor on these brownies. I am not as prepared as these brownies make me out to be. I have no idea what we're doing for Easter and I definitely haven't registered us for the community egg hunt or decided if I'm going to wait in line to get a photo of my child with a giant scary white bunny. I should probably get on it, though, since my darling little sandbox pooper is all about Easter eggs. When I asked him what he wanted from the Easter bunny he said "Lots of eggies filled with special treats".

What Octavian means- eggs filled with m&m's. What i'll do- fill eggs with one m&m each.

Just kidding. Between me and his Nana, my child is spoiled rotten. 

Although, side note, since we're on the topic of sweets and sugar. Octavian officially does not like cookies or cake or most chocolate (except m&m's apparently). We were at a bday party yesterday and my usually bread-hating child practically inhaled at least 5 pieces of pizza in less than 2 hours (I lost count). When he was offered a cupcake he hardly even came up for air from his pizza. Not even the neon blue frosting tempted him.

How is he my child??

I mean, I can easily eat a whole pizza, but cookies and cake?!? You all know about my cookie and cake obsession. It's real.

Anyway, these are not your average brownies. These brownies are covered in melted dark and white chocolate swirled together and cooled. Not only were they fun to make, they are so pretty to look at! I kept the topping simple with pretty Easter sprinkles and chocolate eggs, but seriously, you guys, don't be afraid to go crazy! Marshmallows, sour gummies, jelly beans, pretzels... the world is your oyster, my friends.

Chocolate Bark Easter Brownies

Total Time: 90 minutes to 1 hour
Yield: makes 1 8x8-inch pan, or 12-16 brownies
Type: Chocolate, Holiday, Sweets + Treats

Ingredients

FOR THE BROWNIES

1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon flour

FOR THE CHOCOLATE BARK

12 ounces quality dark chocolate, chopped
8 ounces high-quality white chocolate, chopped
Sprinkles
Chocolate Easter eggs

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Instructions

PREPARE THE BROWNIES

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 8x8 baking pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray.

  2. In a large bowl whisk together the melted butter, cocoa and sugar until fully combined. Mix in eggs, one at a time, stirring after each addition. Add vanilla and mix. Using a rubber spatula, gently mix in 3/4 cup flour, salt and baking soda until flour is just combined (being careful not to overmix). In a small bowl, mix remaining 1 Tablespoon flour with chocolate chips and fold into brownie batter. 

  3. Spread the batter in the prepared 8x8 baking dish and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until set. Remove from the oven and allow brownies to cool completely before adding melted chocolate.

PREPARE THE CHOCOLATE

  1. Add 1" of water to two medium saucepans or pots over low heat. Bring to a very gentle simmer- do not boil!

  2. Place a heat-safe bowl on top of the pot so that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. The idea is that the steam generated from the water will slowly warm the bowl. That said do NOT allow stream to escape from the pot, if possible, as this is not good for the chocolate.

  3. Add the chocolate to the bowl, the dark chocolate in one bowl and the white chocolate in the other, and gently stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until chocolate is fully melted.

  4. Remove from heat.

  5. You can also melt the chocolate in the microwave (however, I've had very bad experience with this), by placing the chocolate in microwave safe bowls at 50% power for 30 second intervals, stirring after each.

PREPARE

  1. Pour the dark chocolate over the cooled brownies and gently use a spatula to spread to to the edge of the brownies.

  2. Use a spoon to drop approximately 1 tablespoon of white chocolate onto the dark chocolate in approximately 4-5 evenly-spaced spots and use a sharp knife to gently swirl the dark and white chocolate together (be careful not to over mix). With the left over white chocolate, add 1-2 drops of red food coloring (start with less), until you get desired pink color. Repeat the same process with the pink chocolate.

  3. While the chocolate is still wet, gently drop your favorite Easter decorations over the top. You can keep it as simple or as crazy as you like!  Have fun!

Enjoy!

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