Sweet Treats: Healthy Fruit and Ricotta Dessert

For years, Hubby and I have tried to eat a primarily from-scratch diet with lots of fresh veggies and fruits. Over the last year or so, we have tried to cut back on sugar a bit too.

It’s not that we never have an all out sugary dessert–we do, though we have tried to cut back on portions. But, we have also looked for other, healthier options to satisfy my sweet tooth.img_1668

I have never been a ricotta cheese fan, but a few of my favorite traditional desserts (mmm, cannoli) are ricotta based, so when I heard about this one, I decided to give it a go.

This is super-simple, and can be made with any fresh or frozen fruit. I like to use whole milk ricotta, but part skim works, too. (With the full-fat ricotta and frozen cherries, this is approximately 170 calories, with 24 g carbs, 19 g sugar, 2 g fiber, 7 g fat (5 g saturated), and  6 g protein.)

Cinnamon Ricotta Cherries

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Frozen Cherries
  • 1/4 cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 tsp. Honey
  • Dash Cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Slightly defrost the cherries, either by placing in the microwave for 30 seconds or allowing to sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, mix cherries with a dash of cinnamon.
  3. Top with Ricotta.
  4. Drizzle with honey. If desired, sprinkle with more cinnamon.
  5. Enjoy!

 

With mixed berries (and ricotta on the bottom)
With mixed berries (and ricotta on the bottom)

I use a 2 Tbsp. cookie scoop to serve the ricotta–2 scoops equal 1/4 cup. This is also great with fresh strawberries or mixed berries, fresh or frozen blueberries, or (hubby’s favorite), fresh pineapple. A little treat without a ton of added sugar. 🙂

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Do you have a favorite quick sweet treat that is a little on the healthier side? A go-to shortcut dessert? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

Signs of Spring

We are buried under a half-foot of snow in eastern Pennsylvania, but this week still showed some early signs of spring. Yes, I know that technically spring is still over a month away, but a girl can dream of warm, sunny days even in February, right? 😉

Wednesday was beautiful – 61℉ with mostly sunny skies. I went for what started as a short walk–and finally strolled back in the front door 6.4 miles later.

A beautiful day for a nice long walk.
A beautiful day for a nice long walk.

Unfortunately, as soon as the sun went down, temperatures plummeted, and by midnight it was snowing. I really can’t complain–this is really the first storm of the year. Until now it has been a very mild winter (almost North Carolina like).

A snowy morning. At least Pup was happy--she loves the snow.
A snowy morning. At least Pup was happy–she loves the snow.

Of course, I expect snow this time of year–it is February in the Northeast. But, I also know that there is one other awesome sign of spring that happens this time every year. Truck Day!

If you aren’t a baseball fan, you may be looking at the screen like I am insane right now. Heck, you may be doing that anyway. 😉

Truck Day is the day the MLB teams pack up all the equipment for spring training and head south, in most cases to Florida or Arizona.

I woke up on Monday morning to this:

I am a Phillies fan, but Hubby is a Red Sox fan, so this just made my week! Wednesday, the Phillies truck followed behind.

I love that Phanatic!

Next stop, Spring Training! Pitchers and catchers report on Monday. ❤

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Are you on the lookout for signs of spring? What are some of your favorites? 

Savoring the Spring Green

A winter shot of the golf course.
A winter shot of the golf course.

Spring is in full bloom in NC (and much of the east coast, I would imagine). My favorite part of spring is being able to spend more time outdoors, whether that is a simple walk around the neighborhood or a trip to the farmers market.

Late last summer, I finally joined my family–all major golf fans–and played my first round of nine holes. I followed that up with a few more rounds of nine before tackling my first full round of eighteen last weekend. Keep in mind this was literally my fourth time on a golf course, so it wasn’t pretty, but I did play all eighteen holes.

Some holes, I would love to ignore altogether. I may or may not have uttered language but I was not aware was part of my vocabulary.

Our scorecard--don't tell hubby I shared this! He was not happy with his round.
Our scorecard–don’t tell hubby I shared this! He was not happy with his round.

But all that was worth it for one beautiful hole. Check out number 13 on the above scorecard (ignoring 14 altogether). A beautiful drive, followed by a strong second shot, had me throwing a party because I made it on the green in regulation (two shots less than par, so for a par four, you should be on the green in two shots) for the very first time. Then I walked up to the hole, and saw this:IMG_7838

That yellow ball was mine. I’ve always been better on the putting green than anywhere else. I knew I was capable of making that shot, but I was also very skeptical. No one was more shocked than me when it actually went in.

Birdie!

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I immediately texted my mom, asking where she was with my birdie shot. I’ve never golfed with my parents (something I’m hoping to change shortly), but I have long heard about my mom’s little container of shots and the tradition that everyone does a round when someone gets a birdie.

I guess I’m just going have to figure out how to do that again. Hopefully, lightning really can strike twice. 😉

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What are your favorite spring-time activities? Are you a sports fan? Watching? Playing? Both? Or do you prefer to lounge outside with a good book (another of my favorites)? Any suggestions on how to celebrate the Birdie that I doubt will ever happen again? 😉  

Spring Veggies: Grilled Asparagus

Hubby and I have been focused on eating a bit healthier lately, along with adding in a lot more exercise. We both have more energy, and are feeling happier overall–which makes it so much easier to stick to our healthier lifestyle.

IMG_2366The biggest change for us was eating a lot more vegetables. We have always been good at having a vegetable with lunch and dinner, but now we have added veggies to breakfast and snacks, too.

I am a salad girl, so making sure to get a side salad in with dinner every day–with homemade dressing, of course–was easy. Not sautéing my veggies in boatloads of oil and/or butter should have been harder, but I have learned that grilling or roasting them gives just as much flavor with less added fat.

IMG_7310My absolute favorite, especially in the spring, is grilled asparagus (though this recipe works well in a 425 degree oven as well). Spring asparagus is tender and sweet and cooks up in no time!

 

Grilled Asparagus

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

2 lbs. Fresh Asparagus
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  Kosher or Sea Salt
Fresh-Ground Pepper

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill on high or oven to 425.
  2. Clean the asparagus and snap the ends off each stalk. (Hold the top and bottom and bend until it snaps. This will break off the woody part at the bottom of each stalk.)
  3. Place in a large bowl, and toss with Olive Oil, Salt, and Pepper until well coated.
  4. Lay asparagus side-by-side on the grill across the grates, so it doesn’t fall through. Drop heat to medium and close cover.
  5. Grill for 3-4 minutes, until charred. Flip, and grill an additional 3-4 minutes.
  6. Alternatively, lay asparagus on a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes, flipping once.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Simple, healthy, and super-tasty, this has been a family favorite for years! I hope you enjoy it, too!

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Are you excited for grilling season? Do you have a favorite trick for eating more vegetables? Any great healthy recipes you can’t live without? Please share!

 

 

Baseball is Back!

Opening Day. One of my very favorite days of the year.

IMG_1018Full of hope, optimism for the year ahead. The media has analyzed every player, every stat, and have made their predictions, but none of the that matters now.

Now, all that matters is the game.

Two days in, and the hope is still alive. Win or lose, there is still plenty of time to make up any deficit, plenty of time to fix mistakes. At this point, everything is still a work-in-progress.

At a Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs game (the Triple-A Affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies)
At a Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs game (the Triple-A Affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies)

Normally, Opening Day is also a sign that summer is on its way and sunny days and warm temps are just around the corner. It seems that time can’t come fast enough for may teams this year, as games are cancelled for cold or snow. Brrr.

Even if I did have to turn my heat back on this morning, I am hopeful for an exciting season ahead, full of ups-and-downs, teamwork, new faces, and yes, warm weather.

⚾️Play Ball!⚾️

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Are you a baseball fan? What is your favorite part of baseball season? How are you combatting the spring cold? Please share! ❤

Beauty of Spring

Just as spring was starting to fully bloom in North Carolina, Hubby, Pup, and I had to make an unexpected trip to Pennsylvania. Because we had an already-scheduled vacation in our hometown a couple of weeks later, I ended up spending three (very cold) weeks sleeping in my childhood bedroom.
Early April
Just starting to come back around in early April.
When we arrived at my parents’ house in early April, we were amazed at the difference between eastern Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Everything was still bare—no leaves on the trees, very few flowers. At the end of our trip, flowers were blooming and the trees had buds.  Our allergies were a mess! 😉 Essentially, Pennsylvania was where North Carolina was three weeks earlier. (Yup, we got to go through peak pollen season in two states. Fun stuff. No wonder we were both sick this week!)
North Carolina Welcome Center
North Carolina Welcome Center
I have to be honest, while I watched the changes happening on our trip, I didn’t think much about how much would change at home in North Carolina. I’m not sure why, but I was expecting it to look about the same as it did when we left. It probably had something to do with the fact that we usually only travel for a few days or a week, so in my head, we weren’t gone long enough for a drastic change. I should have known better, but I didn’t really think it through.
The view from the same spot a few weeks later.
The view from the same spot a few weeks later.
On Sunday, we came back to summer views and perfect spring temperatures. Tons of bright flowers, full leaves on the trees, and no more yellow cloud of pollen. It is beautiful, and just being outside lifts my mood immediately. Even better, the summery view from my desk makes me crave beaches and boardwalks—which is perfect when writing a coastal mystery! 😉
What does it look like outside where you are? Has spring taken over, or is it still working? Do you find the bright days of spring lift your mood as much as mine? Does it make you think of beach-bound road trips? 😉 

Major Changes and Warmer Weather

The last few months have gone by in a blur.  In early February, my husband was offered a great new job. It was in the industry he wanted, doing what he wanted.  He was ecstatic. There was no question, this was the right move for him.  That didn’t mean it was going to be easy.

One of my favorite pictures, taken by my husband several years ago on the coast of North Carolina.
One of my favorite pictures, taken by my husband several years ago on the coast of North Carolina.

The new job is almost five hundred mile south of where we had both lived the majority of our lives. Rather than living minutes from our families, we would be eight hours (or more) away.

We knew it was going to be a challenge, but we decided to go for it.  We would be returning to an area we loved, the place we lived while hubs was in grad school.  Besides, after this winter, who wouldn’t want to go south? 😉

Two and a half weeks later, the two of us loaded as much as we could into my car, popped the dog’s bed (with her in it) on top of a suitcase, and headed south.  The other car was loaded on a truck a few days later, and would meet us down here. Read more

Some Early March Fun in the Sun!!

I had a great post planned for today, but that is just going to have to wait a couple of weeks. 🙂 After all, today is Fun in the Sun Friday, so I can’t help but post on the amazing weather we have been having here in the Northeast this week (and what looks to be for the rest of the near future).

Here is a screen shot of our forecast for the next week or so:

 For those of you in warmer-weather climates, this is not at all typical this time of year.  Average highs are in the 50s.  Last year we were struggling to get to the 40s, so this is a real treat! Read more

Spring is Springing?

The last two years have been odd to say the least.  Last year the Northeast had record-breaking snows and spring seemed like it would never arrive.  As of Easter, my tulips and Daffodils had barely began to sprout.

This winter, we had another record-breaking snow storm–in October.  Since then? Nothing.  We are looking at a few days with temperatures in the 60s this week. Read more