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You're average run of the mill yellow (corn?) tortilla chips
Yesterday I posted a recipe to make a healthier version of a spinach artichoke dip, but I realized today while I was eating some of the leftovers that I probably should have included something about the chips, oops?

Tortilla chips are something I see all over the place normally being served as part of an appetizer like chips and salsa, or chips and spinach artichoke dip, or just a basket of chips to go with your meal. Let's be real, you know chips aren't good for you. Most kinds of chips are [deep] fried to make them crispy. I know there are bags of chips at the store that say they're baked instead of fried, but don't be fooled! Turn the bag over and look at the nutritional values on that thing! Sure, it's not AS bad as the regular chips, but just because they're baked doesn't mean that all the unhealthy ingredients they used have just disappeared!
This is the point at which I realized that making chips isn't all that hard (tortilla chips, at least). Normally, all you have to do is buy your own tortillas, cut them up, and crisp them up in the oven (instead of frying them). The problem arises when you try to find a tortilla to buy and take home; there are so many different brands and different kinds, it's almost as bad as looking for a "good" bag of chips, hah. If you're still intent on buying the store bought kind instead of the make it yourself version, at least go to HealthCastle.com's chip comparer. It's a website apparently created by dietitians, and this comparing tool allows you to filter through the top 40 chips to figure out which is the "healthiest" for your needs.

 
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The oh-so-famous CPK Spinach Artichoke DIp
Let's be real, I don't personally know anyone who doesn't like spinach artichoke dip with a heaping side of tortilla chips or bread. I completely understand the sentiments because I used to order that stuff from California Pizza Kitchen almost every time I went there. Hell, when I realized Costco sold Spinach Artichoke and Parmesan Dip in a container, I bought a container, bought some chips, warmed the dip up in the microwave, and tried to recreate my CPK experience at home. I definitely don't do that anymore  (see my Dining Out: CPK post), and the truth is that I don't have to! There's a healthier option people!!

Sure there are lots of copycat recipes out there that recreate the original spinach artichoke dip, but there aren't a whole lot of healthy options out there. I found a "skinny" spinach artichoke dip recipe on Pinterest, but it still called for mayonnaise and a lot of cheese. So what does that mean? Let's make it healthier! My version is in the pictures below. I think it looks pretty similar if you ask me...and I don't have to feel nearly as bad eating it either!!


 
I already wrote about some of the health benefits of avocados and posted a recipe for dark chocolate avocado pudding (see my previous post), but I couldn't help myself from making something else and posting about it immediately. I found a recipe on Food52 months ago for an avocado lassi, and I finally got to try it out today!

A lassi is a yogurt based drink from India, and it can be either savory or sweet flavored. I've only ever really seen two or so flavors of lassi when I eat at Indian restaurants, the most common being the most well-known mango lassi, though I've also tried a rose water lassi which had a much subtler taste. Since my first lassi, I've loved the way they tasted! I've even tried my hand at making my own mango lassi during the last mango season, but that can come another day. The traditional version of a lassi, however, is apparently more savory and is made with roasted cumin and spices as opposed to the more well-known sweet and fruity types.

I don't know where an avocado lassi falls on the savory vs. sweet scale, but I do know that it tastes good! So go ahead and make some for yourself!

 
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Avocados are definitely NOT in season right now (middle of January :P) in most of America, but I still have lots of avocado ready for use. "How?" you ask? By freezing it! It was one of the first Pinterest pins I actually tried out. Basically, it involved pitting, peeling, and mashing the avocado up with lemon juice, and then freezing it. And what that really means is that now that avocados are expensive and out of season, I still get to use them! Woot woot!

I took a bag out of the freezer yesterday to thaw with the intentions of making healthier brownies, but I ended up making a few other things instead. If you're confused by me saying brownies, just know that avocados make a good replacement for butter in lots of baking recipes! It's just as creamy but a million times better for you.


 
Let me tell you, it's hard coming up with so many different ways to use spinach! Sometimes a little inspiration is required...like today. I found a pin on Pinterest from the Undressed Skeleton blog with a recipe to make Banana Spinach Protein Bars. It sounds seriously crazy, but just like the blog says, you can't even taste the spinach because of all the banana. Honestly, I was really skeptical about that description and about the taste in general, but I've found that I'll really try anything at least once (even if that means I have to suck it up and literally eat all the failure when I'm done).

After following the original recipe, I tweaked it just a little to get a little more, nutrition-wise, out of each bite. I think I added too much banana on accident which made it a bit extra liquidy, so I added more flax seed meal and more protein powder than the recipe originally called for. Also the directions for what kind of vessel to cook them in was pretty ambiguous, so I just guessed on that. My tweaked version of the recipe is below. Small warning: It came out a little dry in the middle, but if you can live with that, go for it! If I make these again, I'd probably add more banana to keep it moist.

 
It's almost like meatloaf is that school lunch or that dinner your mom makes that people just don't really ever want to eat. Even when I was in school, when they tried to feed us meatloaf as the entree for the day, I opted to eat a sandwich instead, hahaha. Now that I'm older, I realize that meatloaf isn't that bad tasting, but it's definitely not always that healthy either. Most meatloaves are made with ground beef and bread or croutons, and then it's topped with a ketchup based glaze or some similar concoction that may or may not include honey, BBQ sauce, sugar, etc. I disapprove, on many fronts. Ground beef: not the best choice. Bread and croutons need some analyzing. Ketchup is a no-no, and so are most of the things they put in those glazes.

My boyfriend's fridge is always a weird mish-mash of random goods and barely any vegetables. That being said, I normally have to find creative ways to make dinner something healthy and palatable. This is where the idea for turkey meatloaf (a.k.a. turkeyloaf) came from. I figured, as far as I knew, you could pretty much throw anything into a meatloaf, call it a meal, and still have it come out tasting alright, hahaha. And so my 7-Ingredient Turkeyloaf was born.

 
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I know that food aficionados would tell me that fresh fish is always better than frozen, but come on! Seriously? Fresh, not previously frozen fish are expensive, I definitely don't eat it everyday, and even if I did, I'm not about to make a trip to the grocery store every few days to buy more. SO....my freezer always has frozen fish stored away, and why not? Fish have been found to be a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. It's a good kind of fatty acid our bodies can't produce on it's own, so we need to ingest it from a marine or plant source. Granted, not all fish are raised equal.

Different fish have different levels of omega-3 in them, but you always want to pick a fish that is wild caught and NOT FARMED RAISED (if you can)!! Farmed fish, aside from sometimes deplorable living/growth conditions, can be raised using food sources that aren't healthy for us humans. Some farms feed their fish pellets made of other smaller fish and plants that have been collected from polluted waters, meaning that those contaminants can end up in the fish that you eat. In addition to that, since one sick fish could endanger a large group in an enclosed space, fish farmers like to administer antibiotics. That's just more unnatural chemicals added to your diet if you're not careful. Sure there are other pros and cons in the wild vs. farmed fish debate, but if you can, spend the little extra that wild fish will cost you. I think it's worth the price, especially if you aren't eating it ALL the time.


 
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There are LOTS of people these days touting the advantages of "green smoothies" and how healthful they are. I'm not really a smoothie kind of girl, normally because I don't find them to be quite filling enough. However, that doesn't stop me from making one every once in a while, and since I have spinach on the brain and a huge bag in the fridge, I decided to throw one of these little smoothies together.

For those of you who aren't sold on the idea of green smoothies, or more specifically, the idea of spinach in a smoothie, there are actually a lot of positive aspects to spinach that you should consider! I even did a bunch of the research for you! Hopefully, it's enough to convince some of those non-believers out there that spinach is at least worth a try.


 
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I hate carbohydrates because they're the source of "The Pouch" that most women, myself included, have. But it's more the scientific understanding of what carbs do to your body and the resulting flabbiness that I hate....BUT THEY TASTE SO FREAKING GOOD. Gah (T_T) They taste so good and it's so hard for me to say no, especially when sandwiches are involved. Sandwiches are such good vessels for throwing a whole bunch of random stuff together and shoving it into your mouth, hahaha.

Every once in a while though, I find gourmet-ish ideas for sandwiches, and I obviously can't help myself. For example, when I stumbled onto a pin for this spinach, avocado, and goat cheese panini, I seriously HAD TO make it! If only as an excuse to bust out the panini press I have.

I mostly stuck to the recipe, including making my own pesto, but I didn't make their recipe for pesto because 1) it was too involved, and 2) I wasn't about to go out and buy gross anchovy paste, ick. 


 
Pesto is always so flavorful! It's such a great kind of sauce to use for all kinds of things from pastas, salad, sandwiches, and the list goes on. The downside is that it normally contains a lot of oil, a lot of unnecessary oil! It's usually olive oil, which isn't the worst considering what else they could use in the world of oils, but it's not the best for you either, so overdoing and having so much oil it separates is a bit extra.

The original do-it-yourself recipe I found for pesto came from the recipe booklet that came along with my Magic Bullet. I thought, "Sweet! If I make my own, it'll be so much cheaper!!" I was a tad mistaken, given the cost of pine nuts...ridiculous cost for such a small amount of such a little nut...grr. Anyway, even though pine nuts definitely add great flavor and can really make the pesto, after my unfortunate expensive buy of a very tiny container of them, I decided I could use something else or just leave it out. Trust me when I say it still tastes just fine.