Baked Green Bean “Fries”

I have to admit that getting my kids to eat veggies has been a struggle. When they were babies, I made their baby food, hoping that they would taste the real veggie taste and develop a love for it. They ate like crazy as babies! Then, as they grew older, they became pickier and pickier. Thankfully, my oldest (who’s 8) has started to head back to the direction of being less picky. He’s still not exactly where I’d like him to be, but he’s eating more variety of foods, is more willing to try new foods, and is willing to eat more green veggies. The youngest (4) is still a stubborn little thing, but I’m hoping she’ll take after her brother and eventually go back to eating more foods.

I’m not at all above disguising veggies. Sometimes it makes them more fun! These green bean “fries” were a big hit with my son and I can’t blame him; they are delish! He dipped them in ranch because I’m pretty sure he’ll eat a shoe if it’s dipped in ranch, but I would think the dipping possibilities here are pretty endless. Or you can eat them as-is.  They had a great crunch on the outside and they were nice and soft on the inside. The coating had a nice flavor without completely masking the green bean taste so you can still taste the veggie just enough.  Also, they are very quick to make! Great for a side dish for a meal or even just a quick snack.

Since I was just experimenting this time around, I only made a small batch—about 10-12 beans. This is very much an eyeball-it type recipe. Make however much you want and use however much coating you think is necessary for you.

I read through a bunch of recipes for green bean fries and just sort of made one that worked for me.

A dozen green beans, washed and trimmed

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup flour

1 cup panko bread crumbs

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tsp garlic salt

Heavy sprinkle of black pepper

*have fun with the seasonings here. For example, cayenne for a bit of a kick would be yum. Cajun seasoning for Cajun fries would be good too.

Make your dredging station:

1.       Beat your eggs in one dish

2.       Add flour to another

3.       Combine the panko, cheese, and seasoning in a third dish

Coat each green bean in flour, then dip in the egg, then coat in the panko mixture.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay the green beans out in a single layer. Spray the top  of the beans with a light spray of the cooking spray.

Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.

Skinny Nachos

Other than cheeseburgers, I’m pretty obsessed with nachos. I mean, how can you beat a plate of really good nachos? The chips, the melted cheese, the chicken (or other meat), sour cream and guacamole. Beans? Yes please. It’s got it all.

My absolute favorite nachos are from Yardhouse. I could eat them at least once a week. I tell everyone about these nachos. Unfortunately, they clock in at a whopping 2,460 calories.  

Yes, I know you are supposed to share them, but even when it’s just my husband and I, that’s still 1230 calories each. Also, I’m not a huge fan of sharing food. I like my food to be my food. You can have some when I’m done. Plus, it messes up the check at the end of the night.

Anyway, I had to come up with something to get my nacho fix. The other day I was looking in my fridge planning lunch. The kids had their turkey and cheese sandwiches and I was *thisclose* to making that for the hubby and myself as well. Then I saw we had leftover turkey taco meat and the lightbulb went off.
SKINNY(ISH) NACHOS!!! They were delish. There’s not a real recipe here because that’s the beauty of nachos: Freedom. Make as much as you want, put whatever toppings you want. Just keep in mind that the ingredients I use are why I can call them skinny. Make all the substitutions you want, but be wary of whether or not you start to lose the “skinny” in the title.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, lay out a layer of Blue Corn Tortilla Chips (I used the Trader Joe’s brand that includes quinoa, chia seeds, and sprouted amaranth). 

Top that with a layer of taco meat. I used leftover turkey taco meat, you can really use any taco/tex-mex flavored meat you like here. Top that with a layer of cheese (I used low fat three cheese blend from Trader Joe’s). 

If you wanted to add beans, you can do that at this point as well.

Bake the chips/cheese/meat mixture at 375 for about 8 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the meat is warmed through.

Top with whatever you want to top it with. I cut up some cherry tomatoes and added a heaping scoop of guacamole. I also used plain nonfat greek yogurt in place of sour cream.

Chocolate, Banana, Coconut Greek Yogurt 

I’m a big snack person. When I first heard that it is actually recommended that you eat 6 small meals throughout the day instead of just 3 main meals, I was pretty ecstatic. Of course it took me awhile to get it down so I was doing it right (cookies and chips are not what they are talking about here, unfortunately), but still. Dieticians are saying to eat more often? You got it. I’m so there.
 It’s also good to have one of these snacks after a workout. A good post-workout snack has a both a good source of carbs and a protein because you need to replenish the energy you just expended and you need to help repair and recover the muscles you just worked. Plus, your body is still burning calories for a while after you work out, so you won’t be “undoing” anything you just burned. 

This snack was inspired by a picture I saw online, but I don’t remember where (sorry! I’m not trying to steal ideas here!), but it was actually really delicious. Like, you could make this a post-workout snack or a post-breakfast snack or a Tuesday-afternoon snack or a trick-your-kids-into-eating something-healthy snack or an anytime-you-damn-well-feel-like-it snack. It’s healthy and delicious and you will likely want to add it to your routine, whether you work out or not. 

This is for one person, so you can adjust accordingly. This is only about 175 calories (you could do less nut butter if you want to lower this number, since that’s where most of the calories in this snack come from). You use so few of the coconut chips and the nibs, you don’t even have to worry about what they add. 

¼ cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt

½ banana, sliced

1 tablespoon peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice)

A few Coconut chips*

A small amount of Cacao nibs*

*I know, I know; the technical measurements here are really on-point.

Let’s pretend I didn’t forget to put the peanut butter in this picture…

In a bowl, mix together the Greek yogurt and the peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice). You may notice in the picture below that I didn’t do this. It just makes it easier to mix together before all the other stuff goes in. Then add the sliced bananas and sprinkle a few coconut chips crumbled up and some cacao nibs over the top.



1. I found these coconut chips at Trader Joe’s. I’m pretty sure you can get them or a similar product at most grocery stores. Coconut is sort of the It Girl of the food world right now so you can find products everywhere. 

2. Cacao nibs are a raw, pure form of chocolate, made from the crushed dried cocoa bean. Pretty much, they are nature’s chocolate chip. They have a deep chocolate flavor and a little goes a long way. Texture-wise, they sort of remind me of Buncha Crunch (remember those? Do they even still make those anymore?)

Tostones (Latin/Caribbean) 

Since I had plantains on hand anyway to try Mangú, I took the opportunity to try something else I’d wanted to make for awhile: Tostones.

Tostones are another popular Latin and Caribbean snack food. It is something eaten the way we eat potato chips or even french fries. Sometimes they are topped with cheese or dipped in a sauce, both options sound great to me! They are twice-fried plantains and they are super easy and delicious!

Plantains are nutritionally very beneficial. They are low in fat and calories (well, before you fry them anyway!). They are also chock full of vitamin A & C, Magnesium and potassium, even more than their cousin, the banana.

All you need are plantains, olive oil, and salt. You can buy plantains at most major grocery stores. I found mine at Sprouts for .99 each.

I initially tried to peel the plantain the same way I peel a banana, but it is too firm and it doesn’t peel the same way. I found it was much easier to cut off the ends and cut the plantain in half.

Then, cut a slit through part of the peel and slide your thumb underneath, separating the peel from the fruit. Just work your way around and the peel will come right off.

Slice the plantains into thick coins, about 1″ thick.

Fry the slices in vegetable oil until golden brown, about 3 to 3-1/2 minutes per side. Take them out of the oil and smash them. You can get a tostonera, which is a utensil for smashing out tostones, but I’m willing to bet most people don’t have one. I just used the bottom of an olive oil bottle. You can use whatever you have on hand.

Put the smashed plantains back in the oil for about 1 minute more on each side.

Take them out of the oil and add a little salt (to taste) immediately.  Let them cool for a minute before trying them because they will be hot right out of the oil.

These were so good! They were crispy on the outside and slightly creamy on the inside. I could see why these are so popular. I loved them and will definitely be making them again!

Can we talk about Chia Pudding for a second?

OK, so I’ve seen tons of recipes for Chia Pudding and I’ve heard all about how delicious it is and how it is a healthy addition to your diet. Well, who doesn’t like pudding?! I thought I’d give it a try.

Here’s how chia pudding works: when the chia seeds are soaked in liquid, they get all gelatinous, mixing with the liquid and forming a pudding-like consistency. You can leave the seeds as they are and it will be similar to tapioca, or you can blend them up and make it smoother. I’m a big texture person, so I blended mine up. I used chocolate almond milk as my liquid and mixed in slivered almonds, cinnamon, and a little vanilla extract. Sounds pretty tasty, right? Ugh… if only…

Let me break it down for you:

  1. When I opened the chia seed package, I expected to smell nothing. That is not the case. They smell earthy, and not in a good way. They smell like seeds. Like seeds you are planting in a garden. They do not smell like something I would put in my food.
  2. Everything mixed together fine and the “pudding” was ready in only a couple hours.
  3. The texture was weird with the seeds still whole, so I decided to blend it up. I saw a picture on another blog of blended up chia pudding and it was smooth and silky. I think she just used a photo of actual chocolate pudding because when I blended mine, you could still see bits of chia seed. It was fine, though, texturally speaking.
  4. The pudding tasted NOTHING like chocolate. Or pudding. Not even a teeny, tiny, little bit. You know what it tasted like? Seeds. Like seed you are planting in a garden. I could taste a hint of the cinnamon I added, but none of the almonds. I ended up adding a bit more vanilla, some sliced bananas, and peanut butter, but it was still very bland and seedy.

Bottom line: It was not good. I mean, it was edible enough in that it didn’t make my stomach turn. I ate it for breakfast 3 days in a row to give it a fair chance, so I feel like I’ve earned the right to say I do not like it. Maybe chia should just stay on weird pet-statues.

Cha-cha-cha- Chia!!

I cannot deny the health benefits of chia seed pudding, but I feel like I was duped, like that time I tried Kale Chips only to discover it was like eating bitter, crunchy leaves. “You won’t miss the real thing” they say.

Yeah, right.