Laura Rennie

Kristen's favorite guilt-free snack, entrée and dessert

Laura R.Comment

Hi readers of the cutest “Blog Around the Corner!” I’m Kristen. I met Laura the summer before our freshman year at JMU. Laura friended me on Facebook because she noticed we were going to be living in the same dorm. I’ve lived with Laura, introduced her to her stud-of-a-husband, and have grown a lot as a person due to my friendship with this stellar lady. Sidenote: I’m also the aunt to that cutie pie named Gideon that Laura has let you all meet through pictures.

To tell you a little about myself, I am passionate about my faith, my friends and family, and my health. That last one is a fairly recent one for me. I had been living overseas for a little over a year and had seen myself yo-yo back and forth with my weight. I finally decided in March of 2011 to make a real effort to have a healthy lifestyle instead of the constant cycle of diet/exercise/binge /gain weight I had gotten myself into. Since then, I’ve run two half marathons [third coming up in November!] and a “mud run," joined a gym that offers a variety of fun fitness classes like Zumba and Body Pump, and have been purchasing and preparing more healthful snacks, meals, and desserts for myself. A lot of my inspiration for this lifestyle change actually came from reading other blogs! 

mud run completed!
Laura asked me to share some of my favorite recipes with you all. I have to be honest and tell you that I am totally a wannabe chef. I wish I were more daring and creative in the kitchen, but I’m not, so I explore blogs looking for recipes that sound appealing to me while being healthy at the same time.

The first recipe I want to share is from fANNEtastic food. Anne P, the blogger behind the site, is finishing up grad school to become a registered dietician. I would label this recipe as a snack, but I’ve been known to grab one of these bars for an on-the-go breakfast.

For this recipe, I use whole wheat pastry flour, chocolate instead of dried fruit (though I’m sure that’d be tasty, too), and almond milk. I omit the walnuts - I just don’t care for them.

I do want to warn you and say that they don’t turn out like hard granola bars like you may be thinking. They’re more chewy and moist (I hate that word). Nonetheless, they are delicious and a great snack to grab and go. They store well individually wrapped in foil in the fridge. You can also freeze them.  Anne P has lots of other great recipes, so you should check out her blog!

The next recipe I want to share is from the EatSmart blog. I somehow managed to win a free scale from them in a contest and have been reading their blog since then. They offer lots of great recipes, most from guest bloggers.

When I started eating healthier, I knew I should be eating more vegetables. Incorporating veggies into my snacks, instead of Wheat Thins, Cheez-Its, and Goldfish was the first step. Two new snacks I started eating were sliced veggies and hummus and fruit smoothies where I would sneak in spinach (surprisingly, you don’t taste the spinach). As far as meals, I was always pretty good about adding vegetables as a side, but making a vegetarian entrée was foreign to me. I am a carnivore, but I do enjoy a vegetarian dish here and there.

This lasagna is a little more involved as you make your own sauce. Remedy this easily by just buying your own favorite sauce if you don’t have the time. The only time sucker is chopping all your veggies, though this may only apply to me since I’m newer to cooking.

The liberty I took with this recipe was adding even more vegetables. I followed the recipe perfectly the first time and realized I only had enough vegetables to make one layer of the lasagna vegetable filled. Maybe I put too much in one layer? Regardless, I think it’s better with more vegetables.

I used 3 zucchini, 3 squash, 1 red bell pepper, ½ onion [I don’t really care for red onion], and some minced garlic for the vegetable layer – all diced of course.

The sauce is fantastic and I do recommend trying to make the sauce if you have the time. I followed the sauce recipe verbatim except for using a regular onion in lieu of red onion.

I made this one time and took it to a co-ed Bible study. Even the hardcore carnivore men liked it! One guy didn’t realize until he was eating it that there wasn’t any meat in it, but complimented the dish anyway saying, “Thanks for making me-eating-vegetables taste good!”

If you’ve stuck with me this far, you’re in for a treat. It’s dessert time, folks. I could only think of one blogger to share with you for this part of my guest blog post: Chocolate Covered Katie. This lady takes our most favorite sinful, sugary, unhealthy recipes and makes them healthy, while striving to make them taste exactly the same as their unhealthy counterparts. You love her already, don’t you? Me too.

I’ve made this recipe a couple of times for group events, because I love to see the look on people’s faces after I’ve told them the base to this recipe is chickpeas. CHICKPEAS?! In a dessert? What. The. Heck.

Please be bold enough to try this and trust me when I say that you cannot taste the chickpeas. 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pizookie (Pizookie = Pizza Cookie)

The only changes I made to the recipe were using old fashioned oats instead of quick oats and using only 1 cup of brown sugar instead of 1 ½ cups. You truly don’t need all that sugar. In my opinion it's way too rich if you use the 1 ½ cups. You may even want to use a little less than 1 cup, but that worked for me and for those with whom I was sharing the dessert.

This is definitely one of my favorite desserts of Katie’s, but she has so many fun dessert recipes on her blog from milkshakes, to dessert dips, frostings, ice cream, and of course cookies, cakes and pies.

Well that’s all I have for you. Please feel free to comment with some of your favorite healthy recipes! I love playing in the kitchen with new recipes. What’s your go-to healthy snack, dinner, dessert?

Thanks for having me, Lou! 

thank YOU, blossom! I'm drooling over that pizookie and also wondering how long it will take for me to start calling everyone in my life "pizookie." I'm going to be bold and try the chickpeas (don't tell Andy). Miss you tons and tons!