Healthy Apple Oatmeal Cookies

apple cookiesThese apple cookies are a variation on the Carrot Cake Cookies I previously posted, which is adapted from Amy’s Healthy Baking.  These are great when you want a little something sweet.  This version of the cookie has a small amount of almond butter, which adds some richness.  But to make them State of Slim Phase 2 friendly, just leave it out.  It won’t affect the way the cookie bakes.  Just like in the Carrot Cake Cookies, these are made with some Truvia brown sugar blend, which does contain a small amount of sugar.  It works out to be less than a gram per cookie, but the apple does have sugar naturally as well.  Be sure to read the label on your applesauce and make sure there is NOTHING in the ingredients except apples.

If you plan on having these cookies around for a few days definitely store them in the refrigerator.  They’re so moist that it doesn’t take long for them to get moldy at room temperature.  But I have a feeling they won’t be around that long anyway!

Healthy Apple Oatmeal CookiesSOS Phase 3

Makes about 24 cookies – Serving = 2 cookies (1 Protein, 1 Rebuild Carb)

2 1/2 cups quick oats

1 cup quinoa flour

1/2 cup Stevia in the Raw (or other granulated sugar substitute for baking)

2 tablespoons Truvia brown sugar blend

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg plus 1/2 cup egg whites

3 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons applesauce

2 tablespoons almond butter

1 cup grated apple, lightly packed (peeled first)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of ground nutmeg

Place all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until well combined.  Refrigerate the dough for 45 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Scoop the dough into heaping tablespoons and place onto two sheet trays lined with a Silpat, parchment paper, or coated with non-stick spray. I used a number 40 portion scoop, which is .875 ounce.  Flatten the balls slightly and place the cookies in the oven (they don’t spread much at all).  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  The cookies should be set, but still a little soft in the center.  Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes and then carefully remove them to a rack to cool completely.

Elisa’s Yogurt Inferno Sauce

Spicy food is addictive.  It starts out with a little drop of Sriracha sauce and ends with ghost peppers.  I’ve always enjoyed spicy food but wasn’t one of those people with an asbestos tongue that could eat a hot coal.  If you follow me on my Facebook page you may remember my post about how I want to make all my food spicy.  I started doing this as a way to get myself to drink more water.  So I’d squirt Sriracha all over everything and buy progressively hotter salsa.  And my plan definitely worked.  But the thing with spicy stuff is that you build up a tolerance and soon nothing seems hot enough.  I eventually graduated to Sambal Oelek, a fiery chili paste.  I’ll probably be moving on from that soon enough.

Yogurt Inferno SauceI originally made this Yogurt Inferno Sauce as a topping for my burrito bowl when I didn’t have any avocado.  And now I’m putting it on everything, including my daily egg white frittata, wraps, sandwiches, stir-fry bowls, pretty much whatever.  The yogurt helps to cool the heat, but make no mistake, this is spicy!  You can definitely adjust the heat to your taste.  I’m sure there are some serious addicts out there who will laugh at my notion of “hot.”.

Elisa’s Yogurt Inferno Sauce – SOS Phase 1

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup Sriracha sauce

1/4 cup Sambal Oelek

Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl.  Enjoy on everything and be sure to bring a big glass of water

Avocado Dip & Topping

I came up with the recipe for this avocado dip and topping when I learned that a serving of avocado on the State of Slim program is 1/3 of a medium avocado.  One. Third.  I mean, talk about depressing!  Avocado is so delicious, I can eat a whole one just to myself!  But I wanted to find a way for my personal chef clients, and myself, to enjoy the flavor and creamy texture of avocado, without eating too much.  So I figured, why not bulk it up with a bunch of other stuff so that the amount of avocado is extended, thereby increasing your enjoyment.  Genius.  Sometimes I deserve a pat on the back.

This avocado topping is a favorite with my clients.  It is delicious on top of burrito bowls, taco salad, and just about anything where you want avocado.  It also makes a great dip for fresh veggies.  And the added bonus is that the yogurt, lime juice, and green herbs helps keep the avocado green for much longer than normal.  You can make a big batch to keep in your refrigerator!  It’s not a bad idea to press a little plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the dip, to further help prevent browning.  But it’s not mandatory.  Make this dip and go forth and enjoy avocado!  You’re welcome.








Avocado Dip & Topping – State of Slim Phase 2

Makes 3 servings

1 medium sized ripe avocado, peeled and pit removed

1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt

1 clove of garlic

1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)

2 green onions, roughly chopped

small handful of cilantro leaves (about 1/3 cup loosely packed)

Salt (or salt substitute) and freshly ground pepper to taste

Put all of the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Skinny Tartar Sauce

More Gettin’ Saucy!

Is there anything better than fish and chips?  Well, probably, but I really do love fish and chips.  Especially with some tartar sauce (and malt vinegar) for dipping that golden fried fish!  Let’s get real for a moment and say that fried food is really just a means to get dip in my mouth.  Because what goes better with crispy fried goodness than a nice fatty, creamy sauce?  Unfortunately, all this food naughtiness is pretty much out of the question when one is trying to lose weight. But like I said in my previous  post, having sauce with my meals makes me feel “normal.”  So of course I had to come up with a healthy tartar sauce.

This skinny tartar sauce is made with non-fat Greek yogurt and really packs a lot of Tartar sauceflavor.  It’s perfect with any fish.  I like it best with pan-seared cod.  If you follow the State of Slim plan be sure to use low-fat mayonnaise.  If you’re in maintenance I suggest olive oil mayo as it has better flavor and texture.  If you can find low sodium pickles definitely use them.  If not, just rinse off your pickles (and capers) and pat them dry to reduce the overall salt content.

Skinny Tartar Sauce – SOS Phase 1

Makes a little over 1 cup – Serving Size = 2 Tablespoons

1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise

1/4 cup roughly chopped shallot

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon capers, rinsed and drained

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/4 cup dill pickle chips (low sodium preferred, or rinse and drain them)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon dried dill (or double the amount fresh)

Freshly ground pepper to taste

In the bowl of a food processor (a mini size one will work best) add the shallot, garlic, capers and pickle chips.  Pulse several times until everything is roughly chopped.  Add the yogurt, mayonnaise, Dijon, and lemon juice and blend just until combined, all the ingredients should be finely chopped but you don’t want the sauce pureed, it should have a little texture.  If you don’t have a food processor just finely chop all the ingredients by hand and mix into the yogurt, mayo and mustard.

Gettin’ Saucy!

I love sauce.  Sauce makes food tastier and more interesting.  Besides that, I graduated from a Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, so I was taught that sauce is mandatory. Whenever we planned dishes our chef instructors ALWAYS asked, “What sauce are you using?”  Sauce, in some form, was never an option.

I’ve noticed that MANY “diet” recipes are simply different ways of seasoning ingredients.  While that is an easy way to cook and a great solution for those who don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen, for me it’s not a very fun way to eat.  I want complete meals, which includes delicious sauces.  This is what makes me feel like a normal human being while on my weight loss journey.  I don’t want to eat plain cooked vegetables and meat that just have various spice blends on them.  That’s boring and unsatisfying, both as a chef and someone who loves to eat.

Any of my clients will tell you I do a lot with sauces.  And since almost all of them, and myself included, follow the State of Slim program I’ve learned to use ingredients like avocado, non-fat Greek yogurt, vegetables, herbs, spices, and sugar free jam to make delicious sauces, dips and dressings that adhere to this plan.  So I’m going to share in several posts some great healthy sauces to help you make your meals for enjoyable.

Teriyaki GlazeThis teriyaki glaze and sauce is perfect for brushing on any meat and using in stir-fry.  When roasting a whole piece of meat, like pork tenderloin, I brush the glaze on the meat  before cooking and then brush on more just before the meat is finished (if using the grill brush it on just near the end of cooking so the glaze doesn’t burn).  When using it in a stir-fry I add a few tablespoons to my cut up meat and let it marinate for about 30 minutes before cooking.  Then I drizzle in another tablespoon or two at the end for a nice finish and to season the vegetables.


Teriyaki Glaze and Sauce – Phase 1 SOS

Makes a little over 1 cup – Serving Size = 1 Tablespoon

1/3 cup sugar free apricot jam

1/3 cup reduced sodium tamari or soy sauce

1/3 cup rice vinegar

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon ginger, minced

2 to 3 packets sugar substitute like Truvia or Splenda, more or less to taste

In a small pot or pan combine all the ingredients over medium heat and whisk well.  Bring the glaze to a boil, whisking frequently until the jam is fully melted.  Let simmer a few minutes, just to cook the ginger and garlic.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.  It should be very sweet AND savory, with a nice punch of ginger and garlic.

When the sauce is cool it’s thick and suitable to brush over meat.

The Best Tuna Salad. Ever.

What makes this the best tuna salad ever?  It’s healthy and loaded with veggies.

tuna saladTuna salad is pretty polarizing; you either love it or you despise it with the intensity of a thousand suns.  I fall into the “love it” category.  While tuna itself is pretty nutritious, when made into salad form it isn’t known for being healthy.  Funny how slathering things in heaps of mayo can do that.

I made this tuna salad last week when faced with the dilemma of only having one can to use, but I wanted to make a bigger batch for several meals.  My standard procedure for extending food is to bulk it up with LOTS of veggies.  I also added some hard boiled eggs for more protein.  And of course I wanted to make it healthy and State of Slim friendly.  So I used trusty Greek yogurt and a whole mess of other ingredients to make it skinny and delicious.

You can eat this tuna salad on top of your favorite salad greens or tucked inside a delicious sandwich.  I used a whole grain wrap and even more veggies and it really satisfied.  I think it would be equally delicious with Ezekial bread or a whole grain bagel thin, or in a tuna melt with lots of cheese if you’re not currently watching your waistline like I am!  I used just a little reduced fat mayonnaise in this recipe to help cut that yogurt flavor (do you get tired of everything tasting like yogurt because I sure do!).  If you’re currently in SOS maintenance and OK with incorporating a little more fat in your diet, I recommend using olive oil mayo because it has better flavor.

tuna salad

I turned some of this salad into a wrap with arugula and roasted peppers.

The Best Tuna Salad.  Ever.

Makes 3 servings

1 can tuna, drained

4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1 small bell pepper, small diced

1/2 cup cucumber, small diced

1 carrot, peeled and shredded

3 Tb. reduced fat mayo

1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

2 Tb. Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp dry dill

1/4 tsp. smoked paprika

Salt (or salt substitute) and pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients into a medium bowl and mix together until very well combined.


Low Sugar Barbecue Sauce

I’m a HUGE fan of barbecue.  In 2013 my partner and I went to Memphis and I pretty much ate my weight in barbecue.  The rich, fatty, smoked meat, the sweet sauce, and all the delicious side dishes just make me so happy!  It’s one of my most favorite categories of food, not just because of the taste and variety, but also because the tradition of barbecue in this country is steeped in history and a glorious example of American regional cuisine at its finest.

Traditional barbecue is pretty much out of the question on the State of Slim program. Way, way too much fat and sugar.  When I decided to make some low sugar barbecue sauce and then enjoyed the results on my ridiculously easy Crockpot Shredded Chicken I was actually mad at myself for taking so long to do this.  But after devouring it I knew that I absolutely had to make it again with pork, my favorite meat!

This low sugar barbecue sauce has a BIG flavor; very sweet, very tart and a little bit of kick.  When you follow a healthy diet that’s low in fat, salt and sugar it’s especially important to really be bold with your seasoning so that food tastes good.  A little goes a long way with this one.  I call it “low sugar” because Truvia brown sugar blend does contain some sugar, as do tomatoes.  But it’s much healthier than traditional barbecue sauce, which is usually made with mass quantities of brown sugar and/or molasses.  Enjoy!

Low Sugar Barbecue Sauce

low sugar barbecue sauce

I used this low sugar barbecue sauce to make pulled pork in the Crockpot.

Makes almost 1 quart

1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 cup of water

1/2 cup cider vinegar

3 Tb. Dijon mustard

1/4 cup Truvia brown sugar blend (or use another sugar-free product like Splenda to taste)

2 tsp. smoked paprika

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. chili powder

1 Tb. reduced sodium Tamari or soy sauce

1 Tb. liquid smoke

1 Tb. Chipotle Tabasco

Combine all the ingredients in a heavy, medium sized pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low to maintain a simmer.  Cover the pot and let the sauce simmer until the onion is very tender and the sauce is thickened and reduced, about one hour.  Pour into a blender and CAREFULLY (remove the steam vent from the lid and place a towel over the top) puree until smooth. If you have an immersion blender you can use that, but be careful of splattering the molten hot sauce on yourself.


Crockpot Shredded Chicken is a Game Changer

OK guys, this chicken rocks my world.  SO easy, SO delicious, and SO adaptable to other flavors.  The chicken is impossibly moist and tender and you can use it in many different ways; in a burrito bowl, in a wrap, on a salad, in soup or stew, whatever!  Trust me, you won’t be sorry you made this.

It’s no secret that chicken breast gets dry very easily because it’s so lean.  This chicken gets cooked slowly in the Crockpot all day, which would lead one to believe that it’s going to be dry as a bone.  And if you ate a piece of it before you shred it all up it is pretty dry.  The trick here is that the meat shreds up incredibly fine and then soaks up all the liquid in the Crockpot.  Think of it as a chicken web that traps in all the flavor and moisture.

My partner and I were actually laughing when we ate this because we were calling it “chicken fringe,” and “chicken strings.”  Which sounds bad, but when you make it you’ll see what I mean.  I used this same method to cook the meat two ways – one with salsa for a Mexican style, and the other with homemade BBQ sauce.  Both ways were AMAZING!

It doesn’t get easier than this, seriously.  I don’t even have a real recipe for this but here goes.

Crockpot Shredded Chicken

crockpot shredded chicken

The plain chicken looks unassuming but it is seriously delicious!

2 to 2 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast

16 ounces of your favorite salsa (I used Tomatillo Salsa from Sprouts)

Salt (or salt substitute), freshly ground pepper, and garlic powder to taste.

Put the chicken and the salsa in the Crockpot, cover and cook on low for 6 hours.  If your Crockpot automatically switches to the “low” setting when the time is up that is great, it will continue to get even more tender.  Shred the chicken up using tongs or a spoon, trust me it won’t be difficult.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Burrito Bowl 2

I used the chicken to make delicious burrito bowls with sauteed veggies, seasoned brown rice, pinto beans, avocado and nonfat Greek yogurt that I spiced up with Sriracha and Cholula. DELICIOUS!



Healthy Granola, Really!

In case you missed the memo, let me just break the bad news to you now.  Granola isn’t healthy.  It’s kind of strange that we use the word granola as a way to describe healthy people, as in, “She’s a total granola cruncher.”  But the fact of the matter is that most of it is loaded with sugar, fat and calories.  In fact, one cup can contain upwards of 600 calories and 30 grams of fat.  You might as well start your day with a milkshake.

Back when I owned and operated an espresso cart and catering company I made granola from scratch that I used in Greek yogurt parfaits.  And let me tell you it was the furthest thing from healthy.  I loaded it up with honey, brown sugar and butter.  Man that stuff was delicious!  But now that I understand, and CARE, more about nutrition I actually feel guilty that I served it to people.

granolaSo I’ve been thinking for a long time about how I’d like to make a healthy granola.  I really like the crunch on top of yogurt and it’s been sorely missing from my meals.  I finally got around to making some so that I could use it in some meals for one of my State of Slim clients.  I’m definitely pleased with the results; the granola is hearty and crunchy but only very lightly sweetened.  I use Walden Farms Pancake Syrup in this recipe because it’s calorie and sugar free.  But if you don’t like artificial sweeteners you could definitely use something natural like agave, honey or maple syrup.  Of course that adds sugar but definitely do what you’re most comfortable with.

The State of Slim program that I follow allows for almonds as a fat serving. To determine the amount of nuts to use in this recipe I weighed 16 almonds and multiplied that by four so that I know there is one fat serving included in each serving of granola. You’ll want to pay attention to how many nuts you get when you scoop it out, so that you don’t eat them all at once.  If you rather save your fat servings for something else, just skip the nuts.  On the SOS plan you could also use pistachios or walnuts in this recipe, just be sure to count or weigh the nuts so your portions are accurate.

healthy granola

I used my healthy granola to make these cute Mason jar parfaits.

Healthy Granola

Makes 4 servings, about a heaping 1/2 cup each

Counts as 1 Reignite Carb and 1 Fat on the State of Slim program

2 cups rolled oats (NOT quick or instant)

1/4 cup Walden Farms Pancake Syrup

3 Tb. egg whites

2.4 ounces raw almonds

1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or substitute the same amount of extract)

pinch of cinnamon, more or less to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet pan with a Silpat, foil or parchment paper and lightly coat it with nonstick cooking spray.

In a bowl combine all the ingredients and toss together very well until everything is coated. Spread the granola out on the pan and place in the oven.  Bake for 10 minutes and then stir up the granola so that it cooks evenly.  Place back in the oven and bake for an additional 10 to 12 minutes, until toasted.  The granola will be soft and chewy when warm, but will be crunchy when it cools.  Store at room temperature in an airtight container.


Eggroll Bowls

All the ingredients in an eggroll, made healthy and convenient in a bowl!

I’m really into bowls.  Both the empty vessel itself and the types of dishes that can be eaten in bowls; salads, soups, burrito bowls, Mediterranean bowls, and now Eggroll Bowls.  I found this recipe by Mostly Homemade Mom on Pinterest and thought it sounded like a great dish that I could easily adapt to be State of Slim friendly.  And since I absolutely adore sauce on everything, I knew that my Sweet and Sour Sauce would be perfect for drizzling on top.

You could make this bowl with any type of extra lean ground meat; turkey, beef, or chicken.  I happened to find 93% lean ground pork at Sprouts, which was a real treat because I never see a lean version of this fatty deliciousness.  Now obviously this is more fat than what is required on State of Slim (we’re supposed to use 96% lean), but I made a personal choice to go with pork because 1) I love it, and 2) eggrolls are typically made with pork and I wanted to stay in that theme.  But you should definitely use whatever lean meat you enjoy most and are comfortable with incorporating into your diet.

Get a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw mix in the salad section for this recipe, it makes it super easy.  The cabbage REALLY cooks down so I added frozen green beans to bulk it up.  But you could vary the veggies you use, really anything would be great.  Try adding more carrots, bell peppers, greens, snow peas, etc.

eggroll bowl

I garnished my Eggroll Bowl with a little fresh cilantro.

Eggroll Bowls

Serves 4

1 1/4 lb. extra lean ground meat (beef, chicken, turkey)

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

1 bag shredded coleslaw mix (without the dressing)

3 cups diced veggies of your choice (I used frozen green beans)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced

1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce, divided usage (I use gluten free tamari)

2 Tb. rice vinegar

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium high heat and coat it with non-stick cooking spray. When hot, add the sliced regular onion (not the green) and the ground meat.  Break up the meat and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender and the meat is fully cooked. Drizzle half (2 tablespoons) of the soy sauce over the meat and stir well until fully combined.  Season with freshly ground pepper, you could also use a little garlic powder and/or chili flakes if you want to spice it up.  Remove the cooked meat to a bowl and set aside to keep warm.

Heat the work or skillet again and coat with non-stick cooking spray.  When hot, add the 3 cups of raw veggies and stir-fry, stirring frequently, until the veggies are tender, but still a little crisp.  The amount of time will depend on what you used and how big they are cut. Add the bag of coleslaw mix, the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic and ginger.  Mix until well combined and cook, stirring frequently, until the cabbage has wilted and softened, but still a little crunchy, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the sliced green onions and remove from the heat.

To serve, spoon some of the veggies into a bowl and top with 4 to 6 ounces of the ground meat mixture.  If desired, drizzle a few tablespoons of the Sweet and Sour Sauce over the top.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

Makes a little less than one cup

1/3 cup Walden Farms ketchup (sugar free and calorie free)

1 Tb. tomato paste

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1 Tb. reduced sodium soy sauce or tamari

1 packet Truvia or sweetener of choice, you may want more depending on your taste

Combine all the ingredients in a small pan or sauce pot over medium heat, whisking well until smooth.  Bring the sauce to a simmer, taste and adjust the seasoning.  If you’re like me and like the sauce to be extra sour, add a little more vinegar.  Remove from the heat and drizzle over your eggrolll bowls if desired.

eggroll 1

This terrible picture doesn’t do it justice, but the Eggroll Bowl was delicious!