Let’s talk about eating healthy.

Well, I’ll be honest with you, it’s hard. Like really hard!

It can be difficult even knowing where to begin.  There are temptations everywhere you go! Especially when you’re waiting in line for your morning cup of joe at Starbucks.  Next to the register awaits buttery banana walnut bread screaming to be paired with a salted caramel hot chocolate. I’m totally guilty!  After munching on this, a headache and guilt ensues.  My eyes were bigger than my stomach. Again.

I’m here to tell you that eating healthy takes a lot of experimenting.  Some days you’ll eat beautiful colorful salads, quinoa, and everything labeled organic and natural.  Other days you’ll feel as though your car drove itself to the McDonald’s drive thru as you barely remember chomping on salty french fries.  You’ll eat these Poptarts for breakfast simply because you love them. You’ll give yourself excuses too. Maybe your boyfriend and you broke up and you ate a pint of Ben and Jerry’s plus six chocolate chip cookies. (Okay you might have good reasoning here– that jerk)!  Of course we all have that love/hate relationship with Chinese buffets.

I’m obsessed with Berets.

No matter what the case, we all have downfalls!  Most of the time we feel regretful and guilty, but learning from those indulgences and moving on is the only thing you can do. While giving into your cravings is okay every once in a while,  the trick is realizing that your body is happier eating eggs and oatmeal for breakfast. Chocolate chip muffins bigger than your face are awkward to eat and big no-nos.  Oh, and that inhaling that box of Oreo cookies isn’t going to solve a crisis.  Even though I really wish they would.

But where do you begin with this health chaos you’re in?

First, don’t stress! You’ll get the hang of it! Making small changes in your diet allows for your body and brain to get used to bigger ones.  Start with fruit and veggies instead of chips at lunch. Chicken instead of beef at dinner. Yogurt instead of ice cream.  You are on your way to looking and feeling fabulous!

Other tips: Start a journal of what you eat and write down everything.  Plan your meals. Cook!  Don’t be too hard on yourself.  Allow for a treat every once in a while. Look at healthy cooking magazines.  Find online resources. Ask questions.  Find something that works for you.  Don’t forget you’re awesome no matter what!

I will tell you that desserts are definitely my diet downfall, especially when it comes to eating right for my body.  I am the type of person who needs to have something sweet every once in a while.  However, I don’t want to eat one slice of cake for 600 calories!  Therefore, I began a mission to find low-calorie, incredibly tasty desserts.

Here are my favorites that are completely delicious:

1. 100 Calorie Protein Brownie Cupcakes

Did you know that you can make brownies guilt free?  Super simple and require only three added ingredients: yogurt, egg whites and water.

Now typically I don’t use store-bought brownie mixes, but there are actually a lot of things you can do with these.  If you want to get fancy you can add swirl in sugar-free caramel, peanut butter, raspberry jam, sugar-free chocolate syrup, walnuts, or other tasty mix ins.

Another great option is cutting these in half and spreading a tablespoon of marshmallow fluff  for a low calorie S’more brownie!

The whole family will enjoy these. Guilt free goodness.

100 Calorie Protein Brownie Cupcakes

By Monique of Ambitious Kitchen

1 sugar-free brownie mix

6 ounces of plain greek yogurt

1 egg white

1/3 cup of water

Preheat oven to 35o degrees F.

Combine all of the ingredients together until well mixed. Spray 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray.  Place 1/3 cup of brownie batter in each. Bake for 18- 20 minutes.

This will also work with a regular brownie mix.  Add 1/2 cup of water instead of 1/3 cup. Will make more than 12 cupcakes.

Makes 12 brownie cupcakes.

2. Frozen Chocolate Greek Yogurt Mousse

I love the things you can do with Greek yogurt.  A better alternative to ice cream, this recipe is extremely satisfying.  I love topping mine with sliced bananas.  Sometimes I whip in a teaspoon of peanut butter. Outrageously awesome.

Frozen Chocolate Greek Yogurt Mousse

By Monique of Ambitious Kitchen

Take 6 oz of plain greek yogurt, 1 packet of stevia, and 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder.

Mix together and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Chocolate for only about 100 calories!

3. Peanut Butter and Banana ‘Ice Cream’

Who knew freezing ripe bananas and then blending them could result in love? I didn’t until I tried it.  You’ll fall in love and make this every night for a good two weeks.  Get your potassium!

Peanut Butter and Banana ‘Ice Cream’

Two ingredients: bananas and peanut butter. I typically add 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.

Check out this post from the Kitchn on step by step instructions for Banana Ice Cream!

Add different toppings and experiment!  You’ll fall in love every time you enjoy this.

 4. Organic Pure Bars — Vegan & Gluten free

When you enter into a grocery store, have you ever noticed the aisle of cereal and granola bars?  How do you pick one?  What’s healthy? What’s full of sugar?  It can be really difficult, especially if you don’t have the time to sit and read the ingredients on each box.  Pure Bars sent me their organic and natural bars to review, and I was completely amazed by the incredible taste of these healthy bars.  Brownie, Apple Cinnamon, Wild Blueberry, Crunchy. Just delicious flavors. All natural too!

The best part about Pure Bars is the story behind their founding.  Veronica Bosgraff created Pure Bars in her kitchen after her daughter became a vegetarian at the age of six.  They searched the grocery store for healthy vegetarian options, but were unlucky in finding anything suitable.  After experimenting with several recipes and testing these healthy bars on family and friends, they founded Pure Bars.

Yes that’s chocolate on my hands.

My favorite bar was the Chocolate Brownie, which was so similar to a brownie I had to check the ingredient list twice. Unbelievable!  Made from all organic ingredient which include nuts, cocoa, agave nectar and dates.  This bar comes together to create chocolate love for everyone!

My second favorite bar was the Wild Blueberry, which was crazy good enough to taste like a fresh blueberry muffin. Seriously these bars are perfect for breakfast, a snack or dessert. I love them. Kids will love them. You’ll love them!

Check out Pure Bar’s website, Facebook, and Twitter.  Oh, and Veronica has some pretty amazing recipes on Pure Bars blog as well.

5. Sweet & Healthy Popcorn Snacks for Dessert

I am a big popcorn lover.  I want people to eat it for dessert.  You can have three cups for only 100 calories, plus it fills you up with fiber and good nutrition!  Air popping your kernels gets rid of any fat and extra sodium.

Here are five wonderful ways to pop your popcorn, including in a DIY brown paper bag!

I’ve even come up with a few sweet popcorn snacks that I know you’ll be dying to try.

You know how much I love pumpkin. This sweet snack is incredibly addicting. Not kidding!

Butterscotch and Pumpkin Spice Popcorn Snack Mix

By Monique of Ambitious Kitchen

1 tablespoon of popcorn kernels (makes about 3 cups of popcorn)

2 cup of rice Chex cereal

1 cup of pretzel sticks

1 tablespoon of sugar-free butterscotch sauce

1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

Pop 1 tablespoon of popcorn kernels however you’d like.  Placed popped popcorn in large bowl. Add Chex cereal and pretzels.  Stir.

Drizzle butterscotch in bowl all over snack mix.  Sprinkle pumpkin pie spice evenly over mix and stir to combine.

Serves 2-4

Healthy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Popcorn

By Monique of Ambitious Kitchen

1 tablespoon of all natural creamy peanut butter

2 teaspoons of sugar-free chocolate sauce (Hershey’s is good)

2 tablespoons of popcorn kernels (makes about 6 cups of popcorn)

Pop 2 tablespoons of popcorn kernels however you’d like.  Placed popped popcorn in large bowl.

Melt peanut butter for 30 seconds in microwave safe bowl.  Stir until extra creamy, then drizzle evenly all over popcorn.

Next, drizzle chocolate sauce.

Stir popcorn around with spoon.  Share with a friend!

Serves 2

Wait, you are a sweet and spicy lover like me? Good! Spicy things get your metabolism revved up. Try this:

Salty & Spicy Dark Chocolate Popcorn

By Monique of Ambitious Kitchen

1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips

1/4 to 1/2 tsp of red cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you’d like it)

1/2 tsp of sea salt

2 tablespoons of popcorn kernels (makes about 6 cups of popcorn)

Pop 2 tablespoons of popcorn kernels however you’d like.  Placed popped popcorn in large bowl.

Melt dark chocolate chips in microwave for 30 seconds, stir until completely melted.

Drizzle dark chocolate all over popcorn evenly.  Sprinkle cayenne pepper and sea salt all over popcorn and then stir with spoon.

This is a kicker!

Serves 2

These recipes all can be doubled or tripled for a healthy appetizer or snack for any party!

I hope these simple and easy recipes inspire you a little bit! While I’m not an expert, I would love to answer any questions you have about health if I can, or at least point you in the right direction. I’m just a self-taught health enthusiast who is obsessed with all things food!   Feel free to contact me to share recipes, ask questions, or even just to say hello!