Category Archives: Whole Living 28 day Challenge

Clean Eating Chocolate Cup Cake with Chocolate Icing

This is a clean eating chocolate cake recipe I have been playing around with the last few weeks. My inspiration for this cake came from Ellie Krieger’s moist mocha cake recipe, I made it earlier this month (minus the coffee) and we absolutely loved it. But I wanted to raise the nutrition bar with this recipe and kicked it up a notch with the ingredients to make them more wholesome. I used  honey, pasteurized honey for the cake and then for the frosting I used raw honey for it’s health benefits (the CDC recommends children under the age of 12 months not consume raw honey since it may contain botulism spores). You could use agave nectar but I ran out and used what I had on hand.

I made this cake for my son’s 10th birthday celebration (see football cake below) but didn’t add eggs because one of my nephews has an egg allergy. Overall my kids, my nephews, and my family loved it too.

My kids requested this cake the other day, they wanted me to pack it in their school lunch for dessert. I baked them little cupcakes with the clean eating chocolate frosting and embellished it with a heart-shaped banana slice on top of the cup cakes to remind them of how much I love them, plus this would make a  perfect Valentine’s Day treat! 

My son's 10th birthday cake!

Clean Eating Chocolate Cupcakes  without the frosting~ inspired by Ellie Krieger
Servings: 12/Serving size: 1 cupcake or 1/12 of cake
Weight Watcher points plus: 5
Calories: 155/protein: 5 g/fat: 7 g/carbs: 24 g/ fiber: 3 g
Dry Ingredients:
1.5 c. whole wheat pastry flour or white wheat fl our (regular ww flour makes a tougher, dense and dry cake)
1/2 c. dark cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Wet Ingredients:
1.5 c. Greek low-fat yogurt or regular yogurt
1.5 c. unsweetened apple sauce (banana puree and pumpkin puree taste great too)
2 Tbsp organic unsalted butter, melted
4 Tbsp grapeseed oil
2 egg whites (tastes great without eggs for food allergy sensitive person)
1 ounce of good quality dark chocolate ~ 60% or more cocoa (melted, in microwave or double broiler)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c. agave nectar
optional: 2 – 4 Tbsp water to thin out batter if too thick
12 cup cake liners for cupcakes or one 13 x 9 baking pan for sheet cake. I used a ceramic bowl that happened to be in the shape of a football.
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. If baking cupcakes, line the cupcake liners in muffin tin, lightly spray with vegetable oil. If using a baking pan, lightly spray pan so batter will not stick.
2.In a small mixing bowl, add all the dry ingredients and stir well until blended well; set aside.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, add all the wet ingredients, mix well until combined.
4. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredient in thirds. This makes it easier to blend well. You can whisk by hand or use a handheld blender, just don’t over mix or you’ll have a dense dry cake with pockets of air. The batter should look like fudge pudding,  if it’s too thick add a bit more puree or add some water to thin it out, try small amounts at a time like 2 tablespoons at a time.
5. Evenly pour batter into muffin lined tins, bake in the oven for about 18-20 minutes. I like to use a toothpick or butter knife to insert in the middle of cake to see if it comes out clean. When ready, place the cupcakes or cakes out of the oven, to cool before icing. My kids loved them plain without the icing.
Frosting ~inspired by Clean and Delicious with Dani Spies and Elana’s Pantry
Servings: 12 Serving Size: 1/2 tablespoon
Weight Watcher points plus: 1
Calories: 50/protein: 1 g/fat: 2 g/ carbs: 7.5 g/fiber: 1 g 
1/2 c. dark cocoa powder
pinch of cinnamon
3- 4 Tbsp honey (agave nectar) ~ I used raw honey*
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
*side note: Do not give raw honey to children under the age of one year’s old, because it may contain botulism spores.
Honey has a thicker consistency than agave nectar, especially raw honey, so I had to add some liquid to thin it out.  I used water, about 0.5 to 1 Tbsp water at a time to get the frosting consistency that I liked. You can use a splash of milk, soy, coconut, or rice milk, etc. in place of the water. Also honey is much sweeter than agave, next time I’ll use agave nectar.
1. Mix ingredients together in a bowl, whisk until blended and smooth. Since I used honey, I added about 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of water, but you may have to play around with it.
2. When the cupcakes or cake is cooled frost! Enjoy!
* for the vanilla frosting on the football cake,  I used  Cherrybrook Kitchen vanilla frosting mix.
Updated: June 16, 2012
Some Tips on the Cake to improve the texture:
  • If you are new to using whole wheat flour in your baked goods, I suggest starting with  1 part ww flour and 2 parts all purpose flour. Whole wheat flour has more protein than all purpose flour, which means it will result in a more chewier texture. 
  •  I made a mistake when I originally posted this recipe, I changed it to 4 Tbsp of grapeseed oil instead of 2 Tbsp.  
  • If the batter is still too thick (from using whole wheat flour)  add more oil or sugar but if you are wanting to keep it on the lighter side, add more applesauce to thin the batter out or water.

Week Four Whole Living Challenge {Broccoli Soup}

This is the last week of the Whole Living Challenge! Congrats if you’ve made it this far!Week 4’s challenge:  Ask yourself this question, “how do you feel today, compared to three weeks ago?” Take note of any changes that has occurred over the last three weeks with your body and your mood, do you feel any different? From here on out, challenge yourself by taking your eating plan up a notch. Raise the nutritional bar by adding more vegetables to your diet or Focus on adding more quality proteins, carbohydrates, and fats into your diet, and stop focusing on foods you shouldn’t be eating.  Whole Living Magazine suggests you challenge yourself here on out with incorporating the following foods in your diet:

  • Have 2 servings of fish per week {preferably wild caught, check out this site for safest fish to feed your family}
  • Eat 2 cups of dark leafy greens and at least 1 cup of fresh fruit per day
  • Add 2 or more herb/spices at every meal
  • Pay attention to portion size
 Whole Living Magazine suggests you avoid the following foods permanently:
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Artificial colorings
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated oils
  • GMO {genetically modified organisms}
  • Nitrates {found in processed deli meats, bacon, pepperoni, etc.}
  • Foods with high pesticide load {click here for the list}
 Limit or avoid the following foods:
  • Caffeine
  • Processed foods/beverages
  • Alcohol

Today, I’m sharing a simple clean eating broccoli soup. You can add some half and half cream to the recipe if you like a creamier soup. I prefer my soup to be light and low fat, I added a tablespoon or two of my lemon cannellini bean dip to thicken it and add some texture and flavor.

Lisa’s Broccoli Soup
Servings: 4/serving size: ~1 cup
Weight Watcher points plus: 2
Calories: 82 /protein: 5 g/fat: 1.5 g/ carbs: 13 g/ fiber: 4.5 g
6 c.  broccoli (stems and florets)
2 c. broth low sodium (I used chicken broth, but you can use vegetable broth for vegetarians)
1-2 c. water (depends on how thin you want the soup)
1/2 cup chopped onions ~1 small onoin
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
 1. In a medium sauce pan add olive oil and onions, sautee on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the onions are soft and lightly browned. Add the garlic, sautee for a few minutes longer; keep an eye on it burnt garlic doesn’t taste so good.
2. Add broccoli and broth, stir with a spoon. Let it cook for about 8-minutes or until it boils, I like to add the lid to the pan so the soup can heat up faster and so the soup doesn’t splatter everywhere. Lower the heat and simmer for about 5 more minutes.
3. Remove the sauce pan from the stove to puree.  I like to use my immersion blender to puree my soup, I leave the soup in the sauce pan and carefully blend until smooth. If you do not have an immersion blender, you can blend the soup up in a blender in small batches. This step you have to be very careful not to burn yourself when pureeing. Enjoy the soup while hot.
4. I’ll make big batches of soup to freeze for later. Store it in container or zip lock bags once the soup has cooled, label and date it, freeze for up to 3 months.
Nutritional Analysis for 1 cup of soup: calories: 82/protein: 5 g/ total carbs: 13 g/ dietary fiber: 4.5 g/ sugars: 3 g/total fat: 1.5 g/ saturated fat: 0 g/ monounsaturated fat: 1 g/ polyunsaturated fat: 0 g/ cholesterol: 0 mg/ sodium: 320 mg
% Daily Values based on a 2,000 calorie diet for adults: vitamin: k: 276? vitamin C: 186%/ vitamin A: 43%/ folate: 43%/ manganese: 17%/ potassium: 17%/ B6%: 18%/ vitamin E: 13%/ B2: 12%/ pantothenic acid: 10%/ magnesium: 9%/ calcium: 8%/ niacin: 8%/ iron: 7%/ copper: 7%/B1: 7%/ zinc: 6%/ selenium: 4%/ B12: 1% 

Orange-Carrot Ginger Smoothie {Fitness Friday BH}

Sorry for the blurry picture, it was early in the morning! My "Anti-Inflammatory" Smoothie

So the other day, I mentioned how I woke up with inflamed stiff joints in both of  my hands. I’m not sure if it’s related to all the wheat I ate over the weekend and the extra sweets from my son’s chocolate birthday cake (will post soon) but I sure feel better when I limit or avoid wheat (gluten) and sugars in my diet. How about you?

I had to teach that same morning, so I whipped up a smoothie that I like to call the “anti-inflammatory” smoothie. I drank a few shots before I tought my barre class. I made a little extra for the ladies to try at the studio too. Not sure if they liked it, but little do they know they are my guinea pigs for my recipes before I post them! :)

I like this article I found on Today’s Health written by Joy Bauer, RD, ” Fight Arthritis with These Foods.”  She suggests we add the following foods in our diet to help reduce arthritic pain.

  • Omega 3 fatty acids:  Is considred an “esential fatty acid (EFA)because the human body cannot manufacture it and must come from food sources, such as salmon, sardines, fortified omega 3 eggs, walnuts, flax meal, and chia seeds. Omega 3 fatty acid actually works to decrease inflammation by suppressing the production of cytokines and enzymes that erode cartilages.(1)
  • Antioxidants : specificallybeta carotene, beta cryptoxanthin, anthocyanidins. Certain antioxidants may help to protect the body from the effects of free radicals, and are a critical part of an anti-inflammation diet. Research has demonstrated that certain antioxidants may help prevent arthritis, slow its progression and relieve pain. (1)
  • Vitamin C: Most people associate vitamin C with supporting the immune system to help fight cold and flu, however, many peopel may not know that vitamin C is one of the nutrients most responsible for the collagen synthesis, a major component of cartilage.(1) Though it’s best to get your vitamin C from whole food sources, however if you choose to supplement avoid taking mega high doses for a long period of time or else it can have some side effects to your health such as making your arthritis worse, nausea, diarrhea, oxalate-containing kidney stones. (1, 2) Sources include: sweet peppers, guava, oranges, lemons, straberries, tomatoes, and kale just to name a few.
  • Selenium: In a study of more than 900 people, those who had low levels of selenium were more likely to have osteoarthritis of the knee. People who ate very few selenium-rich foods were nearly twice as likely to have severe arthritis compared with those who ate a selenium-rich diet. (1) Food sources include: Brazil nuts, tuna (canned light is best~lower in mercury), shrimp, crab, oysters, lean meat, and wheat germ just to name a few.
  • Spices: ginger and turmeric: Not only is ginger used to help prevent or treat nausea and vomiting. There is some promising evidence that the phytochemical in ginger called gingerol may help reduce pain from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. (3)  Joy Bauer notes that ginger can act as a blood thinner so if you are on any blood thinning medications, take precaution. (1) Turmeric, also known as curcumin, may help arthritis by suppressing inflammatory body chemicals, according to some scientific studies. (4, 5) Try adding turmeric to your dinner, such as tofu, chicken or soup. Though I’m not  sure how it would taste in a smoothie! ;)

Dr. Weil has a great overview on Osteoarthritis treatment, click here to read it. For my coffee loving friends,  you maybe dissapointed to find out that he suggests not drinking more than 2 cups of coffee per day in which it may contribute to calcium losses. :(

Lisa’s Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie
Servings: 2  Serving Size:8 fluid ounces
Weight Watcher points plus:5
Calories: 209/Protien: 5 g/Fat: 8 g/Carbs: 32 g/Fiber: 11 g
1 medium carrot sticks or 1 cup. carrots (beta carotene)
1 whole orange, peeled or 1 cup of orange segments  (vitamin C, beta cryptoxanthin)
1 inch piece ginger root, peeled ~ 3 tablespoons grated (gingerols)
1 cup strawberries (vitamin C, anthocyanidins)
2 Tbsp chia seeds (omega 3’s)
2 Brazil nuts~ add in the smoothie or eat it on its own (selenium)
1/4 cup water to blend or you can use tea or fresh squeezed fruit
1. Add your liquid in a blender, I used purified water. Add remaining ingredients; blend until smooth. Serve immediately over ice or add ice in the blender to make a slushy type of smoothie. Enjoy! :)
% Daily Values based on a 2,000 calorie diet (estimation): vitamin A: 222%/ selenium: 138%/vitamin C: 124%/manganese: 40%/ calcium: 40%/ B1: 18%/ B6: 16%/ folate: 16%/ potassium: 16%/ copper: 12%/ iron: 12%/ vitamin K: 12%/ B3: 11%/ B2: 7%/ zinc: 7%/pantothenic acid: 6%/ chromium: 4%
I sharing this recipe and linking up with Jill Conyers, “Fitness Friday” blog hop! Check out the other bloggers for recipe and workout ideas!
1. “Fight Arthritis with These Foods”, Today’s Health
2. Linus Pauling Institute, Vitamin C micronutrient page.
3. University of Maryland Medical Center, Medical Reference: Complimentary Medicine Ginger web page.
4. University of Maryland Medical Center, Medical Reference: Complimentary Medicine Turmeric web page.
5. Andrew Weil Overview on Osteoarthritis web page.

Lemon Cannellini Bean Dip with crudites

I’m totally lovin’ this bean dip. It’s so easy to make and it gets me to eat more fresh vegetables too! When I had my son’s birthday celebration with my side of the family this past Saturday, I made this dip as an appetizer. It was a big hit with everyone, including the kids, well except for my picky 5 year old (he likes his veggies plain).
You have to  head over to Linda’s site, she just posted a wonderful lemon focaccia recipe today. I wish I would have know about this recipe for my son’s party, it would have gone perfectly with my bean dip! :)
I’ve linked up this recipe to Traditional Tuesday’s Nutritious and Delicious blog carnival hosted by: KerryAnn @ Cooking Traditional Foods; Jessica @ Delicious Obsessions; Dawn @ Cultured Mama; and Adrienne @ Whole New MomHappy Tuesday! :)

 Lisa’s Lemon Cannellini Bean Dip
Servings:8 /Serving Size: 1/4 cup
Weight Watcher pts plus: 3
Calories: 96/ protein: 4 g/ fat: 5 g/ carbs: 10 g/ fiber: 3 g
1, 16 ounce can of Eden Foods cannellini beans, rinsed well (or you can use 2 cup of cooked beans ~cheaper, more wholesome)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp water to thin it or use more oil if calories aren’t an issue
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp lemon zest from organic lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp Italian herbs (I used Italian Seasoning blend from Simply Organic spice)
optional: red pepper flakes for a spicy kick.
black pepper
salt to taste ~ I used a pinch
1 tsp olive oil to drizzle on top
1. Add beans, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, water in a food processor or blender, blend until smooth. Transfer into a bowl, garnish with herb seaoning, black pepper, lemon zest, and 1 tsp olive oil. Serve with some crudites (fancy French word for raw vegetables).
Nutritional Analysis: Calories: 96/ protein: 4 g/ carbs: 10g /fiber: 3 g/ sugars: 1 g/ total fat: 5 g/ saturated fat: 0.5 g/ monounsaturated fat: 4 g/ polyunsaturated fat: 0.5 g/cholesterol 0 mg/ sodium: 150 mg 

Week 3 Whole Living Challenge {Sunshine Burst Smoothie}

Good Monday Morning and Happy Martin Luther King Jr. day! My kids are home from school today in observance of his birthday. I have a few educational projects in mind for them to learn more about his great dream. My kids got a kick out of Kay’s post this morning. She wrote a short sweet post in honor of Dr. King, here. In her post she features an artist, named Pete Fecteau. Pete spent 40 hours configuring a monumental mosaic of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., back in 2010, made entirely out of Rubik’s Cubes called ‘Dream Big‘ , (click Pete’s name to view more on this project).  

Okay Now onto the Whole Living Action plan! We are half way there!!!

Week 3′s challenge is to keep up with the detox diet, but try to add some of the “avoid” foods back into your diet. Take note of how you feel and how these foods affect you. Also Whole Living magazine recommends kicking up your workout a notch, not a problem for me since I started the BodyRock 30 day challenge, today is week two day 1 for me. To get a glimpse of my workout, you can view it here.

Whole Living Magazine recommends the following foods to reintroduce into your diet. (This is an example I came up with to give you an idea on what days to introduce the single foods back into your diet).
  • Day 1: beans {start with a small amount}
  • Day 4: eggs
  • Day 6: natural sugars, honey, agave, maple syrup, brown rice syrup
Foods to avoid this week:
  • Caffeine
  • Added sugars, including artificial sweeteners
  • Processed foods/beverages
  • Alcohol
Optional foods to avoid:
  • corn
  • peanut/peanut products
I introduced wheat gradually last week into my diet, I felt fine up until Sunday morning. On Saturday, we had family over to celebrate my son’s 10th birthday, let’s just say I went a bit overboard with the “wheat” foods. I couldn’t resist “wheat” pasta, “wheat” bread and chocolate cake (made with wheat). Even though I ate perfect small portion throughout the day, I still woke up on Sunday morning with  swollen and stiff  joints in my hands, not to mention I experienced  some gastrointestinal issues.  It’s Monday and I feel much better today. Yesterday I made a special smoothie I like to call the “ant-inflammatory” smoothie, I’ll share with you later in the week!  
This month I am co hosting the Citrus-love blog-hop along with other wonderful food bloggers led by Junia at Miss Pensimentos. Scroll down below to check out the photo’s and links to their citrusy treats.
Lisa’s Sunshine Burst Smoothie
Servings: varies (mine made 16 fluid ounces)/Servings Size: ~ 8 fl. oz.
Weight Watcher pts plus: 5
Calories: 179 /protein: 4 g/fat: 1.5 g/carbs: 37 g/fiber: 5 g
1/4 cup liquid {I used fresh squeezed orange juice}
1 whole orange peeled
1 cup fresh strawberries (frozen works well too, just use no sugar)
1 whole ripe banana {peeled, of course}
1/4 c. Greek low fat plain yogurt
Add ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth! Enjoy!
A Little Bit of Everything ~ Astig Vegan ~ Baker Street ~ BigFatBaker ~ CafeTerraBlog ~ Cake Duchess ~ Cakeballs, Cookies and More Elephant Eats ~ Food Wanderings ~ Georgiecakes ~ Hobby And More ~ Mike’s Baking ~ Mis Pensamientos ~ No One Likes Crumbley Cookies ~ Oh Cake ~ Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives ~ Peaches and Donuts ~ Savoring Every Bite ~ Simply Reem ~ Smart Food and Fit ~Soni’s Food for Thought ~ Teaspoon of SpiceThat Skinny Chick Can Bake ~ The Art of Cooking Real Food ~ The More Than Occasional Baker ~ The Spicy RD ~ The Wimpy Vegetarian ~