Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken + Homemade BBQ Sauce

I love making sauces and dressings from scratch. You can control exactly what you put in it! No worrying about ingredients you don’t like. This homemade BBQ sauce uses SPLENDA® Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend which is made from only two ingredients: stevia and cane sugar. There is no weird aftertaste and it has 50% fewer calories than plain old sugar. I’ve been on the stevia bandwagon for a while so I was super excited to use this product to create a recipe for you!

This recipe is great for meal prep! Make the chicken and slaw on Sunday and warm up and assemble the sandwiches when you’re ready for a weeknight dinner.

*I received free samples of SPLENDA® Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by SPLENDA® Sweeteners and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.


Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken + Homemade BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

BBQ Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup SPLENDA® Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend
  • 1 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

BBQ Chicken:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup homemade BBQ sauce
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • 4 whole wheat burger buns

Broccoli Slaw:

  • 1 bag broccoli slaw mix
  • 1/4 cup Primal Kitchen honey mustard dressing
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

In a medium bowl whisk together all BBQ sauce ingredients. Place chicken breasts in slow cooker. Cover chicken with 1 cup of homemade BBQ sauce – save the rest. Cook on high for 3-4 hours. Meanwhile in a small bowl combine honey mustard dressing, apple cider vinegar, Greek yogurt, salt and pepper. Dress the broccoli slaw mix with the Greek yogurt mixture. Set aside. Shred the chicken when cooked through. To assemble add BBQ chicken to whole wheat buns, top with extra BBQ sauce and broccoli slaw. Enjoy!

Number of servings: 4 | Serving size: One sandwich
Calories: 588, total fat: 11 g, total carbohydrates: 87 g, dietary fiber 5 g, sugars: 50 g, protein: 39 g

What’s your favorite type of BBQ sauce? Tell me below!

Raquel

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Adobo Chicken & Mexican Street Corn Tacos

I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t love a good taco! Taco nights at home are always fun. Taco nights with a margarita on the side are even better! This month for the Recipe Redux we were challenged to make tacos. At Trader Joe’s I found some adobo chicken that inspired me to make these tacos combined with one of my favorite sides – Mexican Street Corn. I had these tacos for lunch and dinner this week so I know they’re delish.


Adobo Chicken & Mexican Street Corn Tacos

Ingredients

  • 2 cups adobo chicken, shredded
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbsp cotija cheese (or queso fresco)
  • Juice 1/2 lime
  • Handful shredded cabbage
  • 8 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 avocado, sliced

Directions

Prepare adobo chicken by seasoning chicken breast with adobo seasoning or using pre-marinated chicken (I use Trader Joe’s chicken). Shred chicken once fully cooked and cooled. In a small bowl, combine corn, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, cilantro, cotija cheese and lime juice. Assemble tacos by warming up tortillas in a skillet then adding sliced avocado, chicken, corn mixture and shredded cabbage. Enjoy!

Number of servings: 4 | Serving size: 2 tacos
Calories: 466, total fat: 16 g, total carbohydrates: 59 g, dietary fiber: 9 g, sugars: 8 g, protein: 28 g

What is your favorite weeknight taco recipe? Tell me below!

Raquel

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Double Chocolate Peppermint Protein Cookies

It’s the season for baking! I love getting my hands on holiday cookies from cookie exchanges, holiday parties and family. One of my favorite recipes is a chocolate sandwich cookie with peppermint filling. I decided to change it up into a healthy, protein holiday cookie. There are many great healthy cookie recipes out there, but I like mine without oats and with some added protein. Chocolate doesn’t hurt either! Top your cookies with whatever you have on hand – candy canes, sprinkles or chocolate covered pretzels.


Double Chocolate Peppermint Protein Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flourprotein-cookie-4
  • 1/2 cup chocolate protein powder
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp peppermint chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, protein powder, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine eggs, coconut oil, vanilla extract and peppermint extract. Add in coconut sugar. Add flour mixtures in a few batches and mix until combined. Stir in dark chocolate chips. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll dough into balls and gently press on parchment paper to flatten cookies. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool for 10-15 minutes before decorating. Create a double boiler by boiling water and placing a glass bowl overtop. Melt white chocolate chips and peppermint chips together. Dip cookies into melted chocolate and sprinkle with toppings of choice. Place in the refrigerator to let chocolate harden. Enjoy!

Number of servings: 12 | Serving size: 1 cookie
Calories: 200, total fat: 11 g, total carbohydrates: 23 g, dietary fiber: 2 g, sugars: 13 g, protein: 6 g

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What’s your favorite healthy holiday cookie? Tell me below!

Raquel

Ditch These Five Foods

My philosophy on food is everything in moderation and eating whole foods as much as possible. However, there are definitely a few foods that you should skip! Making small changes to your diet will help you stay on track and reach your goals. These five foods can be swaped for better choices or you can ditch them altogether.

Ditch These Five Foods

  1. White bread – This is the easiest food to avoid. Whole wheat bread has much more fiber and is very easy to find. Pick one with 100% whole wheat as the first ingredient. Fiber helps to control blood sugars and lower cholesterol.
  2. Sugary cereal, granola and granola bars – Many brands are packed with sugar, but use great marketing to get you to buy it anyways. Look for cereals, granola and granola bars that have less than 10 grams of sugar per serving. If those brands also have protein and extra fiber then you’re set for a healthier option for breakfast or a snack.
  3. Soda and diet soda – I probably don’t have to tell you twice, but there is absolutely NO nutritional value in soda. It is simply pure sugar or packed with sugar substitutes. If you crave the carbonation grab a sparkling water instead. If you’re trying to lose weight cutting out soda should be your first step.
  4. Processed meats – This includes lunch meats, hot dogs, bacon, etc. Most processed meats are loaded with sodium and nitrates and nitrites which have been linked to cancer. Aim for cooking fresh meats like chicken, turkey, fish, beef and pork.
  5. Yogurt with fruit on the bottom – I love eating Greek and Icelandic yogurt almost daily. Yogurt can be a nutritious snack if you pick the right one. Yogurt with fruit on the bottom or with sugary toppings can have up to 30 grams of sugar! Make sure you always read the nutrition facts label.

Raquel

Olive and Almond Pasta

Let’s talk healthy fats. This pasta dish is loaded with ’em! Olives, olive oil and almonds make for a delicious dish that becomes sweet and salty with the addition of golden raisins. A few years ago I was at Jon’s family reunion. No Italian family reunion is complete without a pasta cook off. This dish is inspired by the winner! Whole wheat pasta is definitely not Italian approved, however it adds more fiber and I love the taste.

Olives and olive oil are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) one of which is omega-9 or oleic acid. Oleic acid may help control the ratio of LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol. New research suggests that the ratio between the too is more important than the actual levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol. Don’t be scared of healthy fats! They can help you feel full and are heart healthy. Eating a moderate amount of healthy fats should do the trick.


Olive and Almond Pasta

Ingredientsolive-pasta-1

  • 8 oz whole wheat linguini pasta
  • 1/2 cup mixed olives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Pinch salt and pepper

Directions

In a small bowl, combine olives, raisins and almonds. Add enough olive oil to coat mixture. Let sit for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain when done. Stir together olive mixture and pasta. In another small bowl, combine bread crumbs with Italian seasoning and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread pasta out on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and broil until the top is golden brown. Drizzle pasta with olive oil to finish.

Number of servings: 4 | Serving size: 1/4 pasta dish
Calories: 438, total fat: 21 g, total carbohydrates: 53 g, dietary fiber: 7 g, sugars: 10 g, protein: 11 g

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What is your favorite source of healthy fats? Tell me below!

Raquel

Three Things

whole grain benefits

1. Whole grains can help you live longer. A study at Harvard found that people who ate 70 grams of whole grains per day had lower risk of premature death than people who ate little to no whole grains. This is not surprising as a diet high in whole grains is generally more nutrient dense than one lower in whole grains. Whole grains are high in fiber, magnesium, potassium, and selenium. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 48 grams of whole grains per day. Good source of whole grains include whole wheat bread and pasta, oats, brown rice, and quinoa.

2. Do you have healthy habits that are part of your daily routine? These eight things are absolutely something I try to do everyday. I try to drink at least 75 ounces of water everyday. I try to stay active and get outside as much as I can. I eat my veggies and enjoy every meal I eat. I absolutely treat myself and avoid depriving myself of things I love. I try to get enough sleep (that one can be tough!) and I try to be grateful for my health and what I have.

3. Yoga and meditation may be good for the brain by strengthening thinking skills and helping to stave off age-related mental decline. Practicing yoga and meditation weekly can help reduce stress and increase physical activity. A study found that yoga and meditation topped the benefits of 12 weeks of brain training. When I’m feeling especially stressed yoga helps me to relax and it is a goal of mine to start meditating everyday!

Raquel

Spring Vegetable Pasta

Whole wheat pasta may not be the prettiest, but it sure does have some great qualities! It has more fiber and protein than your average pasta. One cup of whole wheat pasta has 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. Plus, it has B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B6. This is one of the easiest swaps you can make for a healthier dish. I always use whole wheat instead of regular in any recipe that calls for pasta. It does have a slightly nuttier flavor, but it’s nothing you can’t get used to.

Add a protein to this dish like chicken or shrimp and you’ve got the perfect dinner. Or add some mushrooms to keep it vegetarian. Spring and summer produce some of my favorite vegetables so take advantage of all of them with dishes like this!


Spring Vegetable Pasta

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta, cookedDSC_0838
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 head of broccoli, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Juice 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. While pasta is cooking heat olive oil in a medium pan. Add all chopped veggies and basil to the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute for 8-10 minutes until soft. Squeeze lemon juice over the top. Add reserved pasta water and shave Parmesan cheese over top. Combine with cooked pasta and serve.

Serves: 4 | Serving size: 1/2 cup pasta, 1/2 cup veggies
Calories: 215, total fat: 9 g, total carbohydrates: 28 g, dietary fiber: 3 g, sugars: 3 g, protein: 8g

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What is your favorite transitional dish from winter to spring? Tell me below!

Raquel

Pasta e Fagioli

“Pasta e fagioli” in Italian literally means pasta and beans. It started out as a peasant dish and needless to say the ingredients are still inexpensive and easy to find. This recipe cost me about $18 to make and will last me all week! To be traditional, ditalini pasta should be used. I had on hand brown rice “penne” pasta from Trader Joe’s so that’s what I used. That makes this recipe gluten free!

I always recommend using 100% whole wheat or whole grain products when possible. This is the perfect recipe to do so especially if you haven’t gotten accustomed to the flavor of whole wheat. Using whole wheat products increases the amount of fiber in any dish. You can use whole wheat pasta, breads, tortillas, and flour in place of white products in many recipes. Make sure you check the label on whole wheat products. The first ingredient should say “whole.” Other examples of whole grains include barley, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, brown rice, and farro.


Pasta e Fagioli

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic, mincedDSC_0639
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 12 oz Italian chicken sausage, cooked and diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 29 oz can tomato sauce
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can red kidney beans
  • 15 oz can cannellini beans
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup whole wheat ditalini or elbow pasta

Directions

In a large stock pot over medium heat, spray with olive oil cooking spray. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are translucent about 5 minutes. Add cooked Italian chicken sausage, carrots, celery, chicken broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beans, and Italian seasoning and stir. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add pasta of choice and bring mixture back to a boil for 10-15 minutes or until pasta is cooked through. Serve immediately or store for later!

Number of servings: 8 | Serving size: 1 1/2 cup
Calories: 250, total fat: 3 g, total carbohydrates: 41 g, dietary fiber: 10 g, sugars: 11 g, protein 19 g

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What are your favorite ways to add fiber to your day? Tell me below!

Raquel

 

Filling Fiber

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate. Fiber cannot be broken down into sugar molecules like most carbohydrates so it is passed through the body undigested. Fiber helps you feel full for longer by slowing digestion. It also helps lower blood cholesterol and helps keep blood sugar levels normal. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water while insoluble fiber does not. We need enough of both types of fiber in out diet.

Most people need 20-30 grams of fiber each day. Eating whole fruits and vegetables, choosing 100% whole wheat products, and choosing a variety of foods will help you reach your fiber goal. Below are foods to focus on to get enough filling fiber.

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Filling Fiber Foods

Legumes

  • Black beans 15 g per cup
  • Lentils 15.6 g per cup

Vegetables

  • Artichokes 10.3 per medium artichoke
  • Broccoli 5.1 g per cup
  • Brussels sprouts 4.1 g per cup

Fruit

  • Apples 4.4 g per medium apple
  • Avocado 6.7 g per half
  • Berries 3-8 g per cup
  • Pears 5.5 g per medium pear

Grains

  • Barley 6 g per cup
  • Bran flakes 7 g per cup
  • Brown rice 3.5 g per cup
  • Oats 16.5 g per cup
  • Whole wheat pasta 6.3 g per cup

Extras

  • Chia seeds 5.5 g per tablespoon
  • Flax seeds 2.8 g per tablespoon
  • Nuts 2-5 g per 1/4 cup

What are your favorite sources of fiber? Any sources that surprised you? Tell me below!

Raquel