Makeover Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Strawberry Pretzel Salad is more dessert than salad, and it’s one of my favorites.

The original recipe is packed full of sugar, excess butter, artificial coloring, and hydrogenated fats.

I saw some opportunities for nutritional improvement without sacrificing much flavor.  I started by reducing the amount of butter by half…and honestly it still was plenty.  I also cut the sweetener amounts way down and then substituted Truvia or Erythritol for the sugar.  I got rid of the hydrogenated fats by swapping out the whipped topping for protein rich Greek yogurt. And ditched a pile of sugar and artificial food coloring by using homemade gelatin from light cranberry juice that was colored with vegetable powder instead of box gelatin colored with food dye. This healthier version is worthy of potluck suppers.

Healthier Strawberry Pretzel Salad

2 cups (about 5 oz) roughly chopped pretzels (gluten free work too)

6 Tbs butter, melted

3 Tbs Erythritol or Truvia

8 oz Neufchatel Cream Cheese

8 oz Unsweetened Greek Yogurt

1/2 cup Erythritol or Truvia

1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

2 cups Low Calorie Cranberry Juice, look for an aspartame free variety.  I got mine from Aldi and it has 5 calories per cup.

1 Tbs plain Gelatin

  1.  Sprinkle gelatin over 1 cup of cranberry juice.  Let stand for 1 minute.  Microwave on high for 1 minute or until dissolved.  Stir in the remaining cup of cold juice and chill until thickened.  (About 30 minutes to an hour.)
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together pretzels, melted butter and 3 Tbs sweetener. Press evenly into the bottom of a glass 9×13 pan.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden.  Cool to room temperature.
  3. Beat together cream cheese, Greek Yogurt and sweetener until smooth.  Spread over cooled crust.
  4. Top cream layer with sliced strawberries, then pour thickened gelatin over all.  Chill for 3 hours or until set.Note: If you don’t let the gelatin thicken before pouring, it will sink to the bottom and make your crust soggy. I learned from experience

It makes 8 generous servings each with 262 calories; 16g fat; 20g net carbs and 8g protein.  I enjoy a piece for breakfast, or a snack, or both.

For the same size serving, the original recipe has 510 calories; 29g fat; 57g net carbs and 4g protein.

Have you given a favorite recipe a healthier makeover?  I’d love to hear about it.

This post contains amazon affiliate links.  Linking to the products that I personally use in my home. If you choose to purchase anything through one of these links, I will receive a small commission.

Grab and Go Muesli Breakfast Cookies

I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to simplify our lives, and if it makes us healthier too, it’s a double win.  Breakfast cookies are one of those double wins and are easy to grab and eat for a healthy breakfast on the go or an after school snack on the way to music lessons or sports practice.

I made these Muesli breakfast cookies last week for the Fit Mama meal plan and it was instant love. I had three the first day, one at breakfast and at each of my snack times. Inspiration for the recipe came from Sweet as Honey and I tweaked it to simplify the number of ingredients and to fit into the macro nutrition profile I needed for the Fit Mama plan.
I can imagine all sorts of different variations just by changing the type of dried fruit and seeds or nuts added.  Different fruit options include: dried blueberries, golden raisins, apricots, cherries, strawberries, apples, dates, bananas, mango, papaya, pineapple, prunes. Prunes are shockingly delicious despite their old person stereotype and taste sweeter than dates without as many active carbs . Nuts and seeds might also include macadamia nuts, almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, filberts, or cacao nibs.

I love dried fruits and nuts so much that it’s easy for me to overdo it and gain weight on them even though they are healthy foods.  By baking them into these cookies, there’s instant portion control.

After dropping the dough onto the sheets, you’ll want to use a silicone spatula to flatten and shape them into cookies.

Something you need to know about these is that they are HEALTHY and they taste like it.  They aren’t super sweet, just sweet enough to be pleasant.  More the sweetness of a piece of honey wheat bread instead of the sweetness of a chocolate chip cookie.

For that reason, I’m going to share the small recipe first.  It makes 4 large single serving cookies, enough for your family to taste them before you waste large amounts of ingredients.

I found everything except the unsweetened coconut at Aldi.  I also chose to use Great Value Sugar Free Syrup from Wal-mart instead of honey to keep the macros in fat burning zone. If I were making these for kids, I would use honey or real maple syrup as listed.

Muesli Breakfast Cookies, Small Recipe

3/4 cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

1/4 cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

1/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour or Almond Meal

1/4 cup Craisins

2 Tbs Pepitas (Shelled pumpkin seeds)

2 Tbs Sunflower Seeds

2 Tbs Fresh Ground Flax Meal

1 Egg

1/4 cup honey or real maple syrup

2 tbs melted coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients in the order given and shape by 1/3 cupfuls into 4 large cookies onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely before moving so they don’t fall apart. Enjoy with your favorite warm beverage.

They are also really good frosted with Natural Peanut Butter.

Muesli Breakfast Cookies, Family Size Recipe

3 cups Old Fashioned Oats

1 cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour or Almond Meal

1 cup Craisins

1/2 cup Pepitas

1/2 cup Sunflower Seeds

1/2 cup Ground Flax Meal

4 eggs

1 cup Honey or Maple Syrup

1/2 cup Coconut Oil, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients in the order given and shape by 1/3 cupfuls into 16 large cookies onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely before moving so they don’t fall apart. Enjoy with your favorite warm beverage.

Made with Sugar Free Syrup instead of honey, each cookie contains: 270 calories; 16g fat; 24g net carbs; 7g protein.

The batter is moist enough that I think I could stir in some vanilla protein powder for extra sweetness plus protein.  If I try it out, I’ll update with the results.

Do you ever have call for grab and go breakfasts? What’s your favorite?


Pumpkin Muffin or Cookies Jar Mix

This mix contains the epitome of autumn flavors with the butterscotch chips, pumpkin spice and pecans.  It has has been a family favorite for years and fits prettily in a quart jar and makes a nice appreciation gift or a welcome to the neighborhood gift.  This is another original recipe you won’t find anywhere else.

Pumpkin Jar Mix

1 1/2 cups All-purpose Flour

1 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp Salt

1 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Spice

1/2 cup Rolled Oats

3/4 cup Sugar*

1/2 cup Butterscotch Chips

1/2 cup Chopped Pecans

Layer in a quart jar

*If you are baking right away, brown sugar tastes better.  If it is a mix for storage then white sugar is best.  Brown sugar will dry out next to the flour and get hard and impossible to mix into the recipe.  Sucanat or coconut sugar would work in either situation.

For cookies: Mix 1/2 cup softened butter, 1/2 t maple flavoring, 1 cup of pumpkin puree and 1 egg. Add pumpkin mix, and mix just until combined. Drop by spoonful onto greased cookie sheets.  Optional, decorate before baking by pressing a pecan half into the top. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

For muffins:

Mix together 1/4 C butter or yogurt, 2 eggs, 1/2 t maple flavoring, and 1 cup of pumpkin puree. Add pumpkin mix alternating with 1 C milk. Fill greased muffin cups nearly full and bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. Or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Makes 15-18 muffins.

P.S.  Did you know that parmesan jar lids fit quart jars?

This is day 12 of 31 Days of Pumpkin Recipes

1 Pumpkin spice mix

2 Homemade pumpkin puree

3 Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

4 Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

5 Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

6 Pumpkin Bagels

7 Butternut Chicken Stew

8 Healthy Pumpkin Pecan Scones

9 Pumpkin Waffles

10 Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

11 Butternut Squash Chili

12 Pumpkin Jar Mix

13 Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

14 Easy Pumpkin Cake

15 Pumpkin Dump Cake

16 Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

17 Pumpkin Mousse

18 Pumpkin Cheesecake

19 Pumpkin Latte

20 Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

21 Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

22 Pumpkin Biscuits

23 Maple Pumpkin Butter

24 Stuffed Sugar Baby Pumpkins

25 Pumpkin Pancakes

26 Pumpkin English Muffins

27 Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

28 Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts

29 Pumpkin Biscotti

30 Pumpkin Caramel Monkey Bread

31 Impossible Pumpkin Pie

Little Chocolate Pots

This recipe has changed my week.  It’s one of the rare “health” foods that my kids are crazy about. I tested it for next week’s FitMama meal plan and thought I had double what I needed.  But my oldest daughter is singing a solo at district contest for the first time today and Monday she walked in the door a complete emotional wreck.  When I handed her a little chocolate pot, words were no longer necessary.  I loved knowing it was a tiny bowl of superfood to nourish her adrenals and her brain.  It wasn’t a false stab at comfort food that would fill her body with garbage and drag her down further.

The tiny little bowls were from Big Lots.  At $2 each they were an affordable splurge.  I love the texture in the stoneware on the outside and the crackle glaze inside.

The only unusual ingredient in this recipe is Xylosweet.It’s a sugar free sweetener derived from probiotics+corn that I feel ok about using.  It tastes like sugar without messing with your blood sugar. You can use any sweetener you prefer or have on hand.  Another good choice is Monk Fruit In The Raw.  You can also use Truvia, but if you find it bitter, pick one of the other two.


Coconut Oil: thermogenic to boost metabolism; nourishes the brain and helps memory; reduces inflammation and boosts the immune system; nourishes skin, teeth and hair; anti-fungal and anti-microbial

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder:  Rich in fiber, protein, and anti-oxidants; boosts metabolism

Collagen:  Builds strong hair, skin, and nails; soothes the lining of the intestines and helps with digestions

Eggs:  Full of protein, vitamin A, Vitamin B and zinc.  Good for your eyes, brain and heart and reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome.

Cinnamon: Boost metabolism, helps regulate blood sugar, good for the heart and aids in circulation

Little Chocolate Pots

½ cup refined coconut oil, melted*

¼ cup ground xylitol**

Pinch salt

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ cup collagen

2 large eggs, room temperature***

½ cup hot water with ¼ tsp cinnamon****

1.Add all but the eggs and hot coffee to a blender and blend well.

2.Add eggs and blend well, one at a time. (If your eggs are too cold, the coconut oil will solidify too soon.)

3.Slowly drizzle in hot coffee while blending. Blend well. The hot coffee will “cook” the eggs.

4.Pour into 6 small ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours or until firm.

6 servings: 242 calories; 21g fat; 9 net carbs ; 7g protein

*Refined coconut oil does not have coconut flavor. If you LOVE the taste of coconut, you can use unrefined pressed coconut oil. MCT oil won’t work, because you need it to harden when cooled.

**You can use any no calorie sweetener you prefer. I grind my xylitol in a little coffee grinder. It helps it dissolve better. If you are subbing all the sweeteners with honey, this is not the meal plan for you. The fat burning process with these specific ingredients rely on no sugars

***The temp of the eggs is super important here. I didn’t remember to take mine out ahead of time, so I ran some really hot water in a mug for each egg and dropped them in. They stayed in there for 3-5 minutes and were warm enough for this recipe.

****You can change the flavor by subbing hot coffee or mint tea

If you are looking for a weight loss plan that works with your busy schedule.  Check out FitMama. The food is prepped ahead so it’s ready to heat up and eat whenever you need it.  Healthy food could soon be as easy for you as grabbing a bag of chips.

Here’s the meals for the first day for the March 12th Fit Mama Plan.  We have a private facebook group too, so if you need help with ingredient substitutes for preferences we’re on it :).

Breakfast: Guacamole Eggs

Snack: Little Chocolate Pots

Lunch: Salmon Chef’s Salad

Snack:  Giant Frozen Eggnog

Dinner: Grilled Steak with Asparagus and Whipped Cauliflower

Snack: Hot Creamy Peppermint Sipper

This post contains affiliate links.  Thanks for supporting us :).

Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodles


This is the kind of cookie that kids grab by the handfuls after youth group, and insist everyone in their family try.  It’s the kind of cookie that gets teenagers out of their bedrooms and into the kitchen for some meaningful conversation.  It’s the kind of cookie that garners requests like, “When are you making these again?  Will they be done by the time I get home from school?”

It’s not low carb, low fat, or low anything.  It’s not high fiber, or highly nutritious.  Just delicious.  If you are on a weight loss plan, proceed with caution.

chocolate chip snickerdoodles 3

Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodles

1 cup butter, softened

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

3 cups all purpose flour

12 oz mini chocolate chips

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla extract.

Beat in salt, baking soda and cream of tartar.  Scrape the bowl, then add flour 1/2 cup at a time and beat in well without over mixing.  Scraping the bowl from time to time.

Fold in chocolate chips.

In a small bowl, combine remaining sugar and cinnamon

Roll dough into walnut sized balls and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Place 1 inch apart on greased baking sheets.

Bake for 10 (soft) – 12 (crisp) minutes or until golden brown. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

chocolate chip snickerdoodles 2

Creamy Pumpkin Mousse: A Weight Loss Recipe

I’m so excited about the flavors of autumn! Apples, cinnamon, maple, pumpkin, acorn squash….Yes please!  All of it.

Here’s a super simple recipe that is sure to please your fall cravings, but is still cool and refreshing for those warm afternoons.  It takes less than 10 minutes to prepare and is low carb.  If you’re following Trim Healthy Mama, this would be an S. The few carbs that are in it are naturally present in the Greek Yogurt and Pumpkin.

Pumpkin Mousse

Creamy Pumpkin Mousse

1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 cup plain Greek Yogurt (I used fat free but any fat content is fine.)

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp liquid vanilla stevia

4 packets Truvia

(If you aren’t counting carbs and just want to use sugar, I recommend 1/4 cup real maple syrup or honey to replace the stevia and Truvia.)

Put everything in an electric mixer with the whip attachment and whip until soft peaks form.  You’ll be able to see the trace of the beater through the mousse and the lines will stay when it is ready.

Transfer to 6 serving dishes and chill until ready to serve.  I’ve found my stevia sweetened things taste better when chilled for a couple of hours.  It helps the flavors blend and makes the stevia less bitter. My kids gave this 2 thumbs up even before chilling.

For a new prep-ahead weight loss meal plan every week, click here.


Baked Creamy Spinach Chicken Flautas

When you need an easy dinner idea, a packable lunch, or a substantial snack, I’ve got your back.  Here’s what I love about these little cuties:  everything is hidden inside.  Onions…check.  Spinach…check. My kids didn’t even notice.  Just bit right down and gobbled them up.   Sometimes you have to be stealthy with the veggies.

chicken spinach flautas 4

Baked Creamy Spinach Chicken Flautas

1 chopped onion

1 tsp minced garlic (or garlic powder)

2 cups fresh, chopped spinach

1 can, 4 oz green chilies

1 tsp ground cumin

2 cups cooked shredded chicken*

1 brick, 8 oz neufchâtel cheese

20-6 inch tortillas (I used flour, but corn works if you want to call them taquitos)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet saute onion and garlic until very soft.  Stir in spinach and cook until wilted. Add green chilies, cumin, and chicken.  Heat through.
  3. Push everything in the skillet to the outsides, making a whole in the center.  Put the neufchâtel cheese right there and stir it around until it softens and melts into a creamy liquidy pool. Then stir it into the chicken mixture.
  4. Place 2 Tbs of the mixture onto the edge of a tortilla and roll up tightly.  Place seam side down on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.

Serve with dipping sauces like: salsa, ranch dressing, sour cream, or guacamole.  For dinner add side dishes of tossed salad and cut fruit.

chicken spinach flautas 1

Zucchini Chocolate Cupcakes

At 3 pm everyone at my house gets the munchies.  I’ve taught my kids to be self-reliant when it comes to food.  It’s a habit of years of dealing with chronic illness. Now that I’m doing a bit better, I want to take back some of the kitchen control.  I like my kids learning to cook and make do, but I’m not loving the mess they leave behind.  It’s going to take some steady supervision to change the bad “clean up after yourself” habits I’ve allowed.  In the meantime, I’m being proactive by preparing after school snacks.  Rename these “muffins” and you can serve them for breakfast too :).

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Zucchini Chocolate Cupcakes are loaded with veggies, fiber and protein.  You can choose how you want to sweeten them.  I used a mixture of xylitol and sucanant.  To get the right texture, you should include real sugar for at least 1/3 of the sweetener.

You can also be creative with the flour you use.  I used fresh ground whole wheat flour, unbleached flour or a gluten free flour blend (if it has xanthan gum in it) will also work.  If you are using an alternate flour option, add it gradually and stop when the consistency is cake batter right.   Some flours (like coconut flour) absorb a ton more water than wheat flour and you will need quite a bit less.

Zucchini Chocolate Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt

1 3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 Tbs vanilla extract

2 cups shredded zucchini

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves

1/4 cup cocoa powder

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a stand mixer, beat Greek yogurt with sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Stir in Zucchini.
  3. Add baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, cocoa powder, stirring well after each addition.
  4. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring just until incorporated. Do not add chocolate chips at this time.
  5. Fill greased or lined muffin cups 2/3 full.  (I like to use an ice cream scoop to measure it.)
  6. Sprinkle the top of each cupcake with 1/2 tsp of mini chocolate chips.
  7. Bake for 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing cupcakes to finish cooling.

Nutrition Information for Zucchini Muffins

Homemade Wheat Thins

wheat thins 1

(This recipe was originally published in June 2009) I love Wheat Thin crackers. I’ve tried lots of recipes on the web, but never found one quite like the store bought kind.  Last night, in the wee moments before falling asleep, I realized the box has the recipe practically on it!  I took the ingredients off the box, which are in order of amount, and then typed them into the nutrition calculator at  By multiplying the nutrition amount by 10, I was able to build a recipe for serving 10 people.

wheat thins 2

I made a few changes in the recipe, substituting sugar for high fructose corn syrup and malt syrup.  I also decreased the amount of all purpose flour and increased the amount of whole wheat flour.  I left out the corn starch and increased the amount of wheat germ, using raw wheat germ for the defatted germ on the label.  We baked them today and they tasted very close to the original, only healthier.  Next time I’ll roll the dough thinner and they’ll be perfect!

3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup wheat germ

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 plus 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon soy lecithin (optional)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup water

Combine the first & ingredients (saving 1/4 teaspoon of salt).  In a separate bowl, combine the oil and water.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the oil mixture.  Lightly mix until a dough forms.  Divide into 2 balls, wrap each ball in plastic wrap and chill for an hour.

Roll one ball 1/8″ thick.  Cut with cracker cutters or a knife.  Poke holes with a toothpick or kabob skewer. Sprinkle with the reserved salt. Bake on a silicone baking sheet (or greased cookie sheet) at 375 for 12 minutes.  Cool completely. Bake again at 375 for 7 minutes or until crackers are crisp.

Avocado Crab Rangoon

crab rangoon 6

Avocado Crab Rangoon:

This super simple recipe is so delicious you’ll need to invite friends over to prevent eating the entire batch by yourself!  Avocado replaces the traditional cream cheese in these crab rangoon and enhances the flavor.  That’s delicious news for dairy free freinds.  

crab rangoon 1

Prep time 5 minutes.  Cook time 2-3 minutes per batch.

3/4 cup avocado mashed with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 can, 6 oz, crabmeat, drained

2 green onion tops, snipped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

1 48 oz bottle of vegetable oil for frying

Small wonton wrappers (Located in the refrigerator produce section at the grocery store and sold in 60 count packages.) (For a recipe to make your own click here:

Pour the vegetable oil in an electric skillet and heat to 350 degrees. 

crab rangoon 2

Meanwhile, In a medium bowl, mix the mashed avocado, crab, green onion, garlic, sugar, and soy sauce.  Place a teaspoon of crab mixture on each won ton.  Moisten the edges of the wrapper with a wet finger (keep a water bowl handy.) Press the edges together to seal in little bundles.

crab rangoon 4

Deep Fry for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown, turning once.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve with sweet and sour sauce.

crab rangoon 5 crab rangoon 3

Prefer to bake yours?  Place on a greased baking sheet.  Spritz with non-stick cooking spray and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Avocado Crab Rangoon