Monday, September 23, 2013

Why I Love Fall

Head over to my new website; 

See you there!

I'm taking a little break from blogging (1-2 weeks) because I'm switching over to Wordpress finally.  Yep, I've made the decision to give Blogspot the much-needed boot and start using Wordpress instead, which from what I hear is much better (and to be honest, from what I see on other blogs).  There are actually three other reasons I'm taking a little break from blogging; my feed isn't working (super annoying), I'm going on vacation soon, and I just started a new job that seems to be keeping me quite busy lately (the vacation was planned before I started my job, wahoo!).  But don't you worry (because I'm sure you are very, very worried) I'll be back in no time at all!  Until then, let me share with you some of the reasons I absolutely love Fall.

The Holidays are officially almost here.
I know, I'm crazy, but now that I don't work in retail I may start to LOVE the holidays again!

I married the love of my life in the fall.  
Yep, our anniversary (one year) is September 29th.  

It's butternut squash harvest time!  
I hope you love butternut squash as much as we do in this house, because in the coming months you will be bombarded with butternut squash recipes.

It's college football season.
Need I say more?

And here are some of my favorite fall recipes from the past....

Alright friends, I'll see you in a couple weeks.  For now, it's time to celebrate one year with the man of my dreams!  Thanks for reading, and enjoy this beautiful time of year, ok?!

The Candid Rd

Friday, September 20, 2013

Quinoa Almond Joy Bites

What's your favorite candy, of all time?  If you can't guess mine, I'll tell you; Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, hands down.  This is followed by Snickers and then Milky Way (Payday might be tied with Milky Way).  Like I said the other day, I think I have Halloween on the brain...I need candy!  Of course, I'm trying to stay healthy, practice what I preach, and keep my weight normal as I creep deeper into my 30s (and you know, the whole fertility thing is important too), so when I get candy cravings I need to come up with another plan, hence today's post.

You might be thinking it's strange that I chose Almond Joys as my candy to "Recreate" today, since it wasn't even on my top five favorite candy list, but, I love Almond Joys and they happen to be on my husband's top five (maybe even top three).  I'm such a good wife. I know, I know.

Almond Joy Quinoa Bites
Makes: ~18

1/3 cup dry quinoa
2/3 cup water
12 whole dates (or 14 prunes or 14 figs) - no sugar added variety
1/2 cup whole almonds, with skins **
1/3 cup grated sweetened coconut **
1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips
Optional: 1 tsp. coconut oil

** NOTE: If you are following a low FODMAPs diet be aware that coconut and almonds contain FODMAPs, but the amounts called for in this recipe should not cause any problems (as long as you stick to 1-2 bites in a sitting).  For most people 1/4 cup coconut and 12 almonds is the max recommended amount to consume if sensitive to FODMAPs.


1.  Add quinoa and water to a small saucepan, cover and bring to a boil.  Allow to simmer for ~15 minutes (or until water is all absorbed).  Cool to room temperature and refrigerate at least 2 hours (or put in the freezer for ~30 minutes, which is what I did).

2.  Using a food processor, add dried fruit and pulse until the fruit forms a ball.  Remove the fruit and place in a bowl.  Add almonds to the food processor and pulse until finely minced.  Be careful not to turn the almonds into mill.

3.  Add fruit, almonds, coconut and quinoa to the food processor and pulse until ingredients are well combined (add optional coconut oil here too).  Return the ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix well.  Add the chocolate chips and combine with the rest of the ingredients (**or, alternatively you can go on to step 4).  Start making small bites (~2 Tbsp each) and place on a baking sheet.

** 4.  If you did not add the chocolate chips to the bites, go ahead and melt them in a double boiler.  Once melted, drizzle over the bites, or dip the bites directly into the chocolate.  Set the bites back on the sheet and put in freezer for at least 1-hour.  Then, enjoy!

Quite honestly these bites were great even without the chocolate.

However.....I don't know about you, but I have to have some chocolate!  They wouldn't be "Almond Joys" without the chocolate.

If you're wondering why the coconut oil was "optional" it's because not everyone has a jar of coconut oil, and let's be honest, it aint cheap!  The first time I made these I didn't use coconut oil, and they were just fabulous. The second time I did use the oil and they were also wonderful. So, you choose.

Estimated Nutrition Facts for 1/18th of recipe
(without coconut oil)

Nutrition Highlights:  Under 100 calories, lower in sugar (and most of the sugar is from the fruit).

QUESTION:  I gotta ask, what's your all-time favorite candy??

HAppy Friday, and have a wonderful weekend everyone.  Thanks for reading!

The Candid Rd


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chocolate Bark with Nuts and Dried Fruit

I'm in a very sweet mood this week.  Today I'm posting this chocolate dessert, and then Friday I've got another chocolate dessert recipe to share.  Maybe I'm just excited about Halloween next month. Yeah, that's it, I'm celebrating early.

I'll be honest, I'm also excited about the holidays (I know, you hate me, right? I just mentioned the "H" word).  But seriously, everyone seems to be in the best mood around holiday time.  And now that I'm not working in a supermarket, I won't be forced to listen to holiday music all day long (although I secretly really enjoyed that, darn it).

I've already started creating a list of the cookies and chocolate desserts I'll be making come December, and I'm thinking this might just make the list.  These were so simple to make, I don't see why I wouldn't add them to this year's holiday goodie bags.

Chocolate Bark with Nuts and Dried Fruit
Source: Eating Well Magazine
Makes ~25 pieces

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used dried blueberries and strawberries)
1 1/2 cups assorted unsalted nuts (I used peanuts and walnuts)

** NOTE: If you are following a low FODMAPs diet, this recipe is low FODMAPs and safe to consume.  The dried fruit does contain some FODMAPs, but the small amount found in this recipe shouldn't cause any problems. If you are really sensitive, omit the dried fruit.


1.  Line a rimmed baking pan with foil (~9 x 9 inches).  Melt 2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips in a double boiler (make sure water is hot, but not boiling).

2.  Combine the melted chocolate with the nuts and dried fruit in a medium bowl.  Spread the mixture into the foil-rimmed pan.

3.  Sprinkle additional nuts on top if you wish.  Put in the freezer and freeze until set.  Break into ~25 pieces, and enjoy!

Estimated Nutrition Facts for 1/25th of recipe

Nutrition Highlights:  Under 150 calories (not bad for dessert!).  And....that's about it (although I suppose I could point out that the saturated fat in this recipe is mainly stearic acid, which is the saturated fat found in dark chocolate that is supposed to help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol.....supposedly.)

QUESTION:  Do you love or hate to get big trays of cookies and candies over the holidays?  I'll be honest, I hate it, but then I do it myself (I'm such a hypocrite!)

Thanks for reading!

The Candid Rd

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Breakfast Quinoa Bake, with Peanut Butter and Syrup

As a dietitian and a foodie, my friends and clients often share with me their favorite recipes that they believe I might enjoy.  They text me, e-mail me, call me, or personally hand me recipes that they've either tried and loved, or that they think I should try and let them know if they are actually as good as they sound. Last year I met someone very special and worked with him to adapt a healthier diet for his extreme endurance sporting events.  The first time we met he learned that I love to cook and blog, then afterwards he sent me a few of his favorite recipes, including today's recipe.  It took me a while to try it, but boy I'm glad I did!

I modified the recipe a tad, because that's just what I do.  I think I ended up with close to perfection. This was extremely tasty and filling, to say the least.

Breakfast Quinoa Bake
Source: Andrew H.
Gluten Free
Serves 9

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup vanilla soy milk or almond milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. maple syrup 
Peanut butter for topping; ~ 1/2 Tbsp. per serving

Optional: Extra syrup for the top (I used sugar-free) **

** NOTE: If you are following a low FODMAPs diet you will be happy to learn that this recipe is free of FODMAPs.  However, if you use sugar-free syrup for the topping like I did, be careful not to use one with sugar alcohols.  If you do, don't use much (maybe 2 Tbsp, max).


1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place quinoa in a large mixing bowl.  Line an 8 x 8 baking pan with lightly greased parchment (or just grease your pan and forget the parchment).

2.  In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, soy milk, vanilla extract, and cinnamon until thoroughly combined.  Add maple syrup and whisk.

3.  Add egg mixture to cooked and cooled quinoa. Stir with a large spoon to combine.  Pour into baking dish and spread around to ensure that it's even.  

4.  Bake ~20 minutes until set and golden.

5.  Gently remove the bake from the pan as soon as possible so that it doesn't steam (or stick to the pan).  Cool completely on a rack or plate and cut into 9 squares.  Serve with peanut butter and top with syrup, if you'd like.

I stacked the squares for photography purposes.  It just looks better this way, right?
You could eat one square, two squares, or three.
But, the nutrition facts below are for one delicious square.

Estimated Nutrition Facts for 1/9th of bake
Includes peanut butter on top
Doesn't include additional syrup

Nutrition Highlights:  Under 150 calories and a good source of protein (although you could have two squares and be just under 300 calories, which in my opinion is a good thing, remember my blog post?  Add some Greek yogurt on top or whey protein and bam, you've got 30 grams of protein!).

I saved the rest of the "Squares" for breakfasts throughout the week. I actually made the following a couple times for breakfast; 1 quinoa bake square, topped with Greek yogurt, frozen berries, PB2 and sugar free maple syrup.  Oh yum.

QUESTION:  What's your favorite fall breakfast?  I remember a couple years ago I went through an oatmeal lasted 2 years actually!

In other news, I just found out I get to go to Houston for the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in October.  I was there in four years ago and had the time of my life, so I'm pretty excited to have the opportunity to go again. If you will be there, please let me know and we can meet up!

Thanks for reading, and have a great Tuesday.

The Candid Rd