Carrie's Kitchen: A trio of 'better for you' recipes

Happy New Year! I hope you had an enjoyable holiday, maybe even a week off work if you were lucky, and are now ready to go back to “the real world,” because that is what life demands of most of us.

Did you over-indulge during the holidays? Or did you OVER-INDULGE? I think I stayed in the first category. So rather than making drastic resolutions about how I’m going to “eat healthier and lose weight,” I’m going to start walking backwards, very slowly, eating the same types of foods I want to eat but just healthier versions of them.


I think this is the most sensible approach. So have no fear: these will be sneaky good-for-you recipes, or better-for-you recipes. I do not expect you to eat tofu stir-fries or brownies with black beans in them. Maybe those things are good, but just the thought of them gives me a frowny face.

Let’s start with a yummy breakfast. Pancakes, anyone? How about banana pancakes? These have 3 whole bananas (so it’s practically banana bread, which is like a dessert), but just 1 cup of oat flour (made by food processing your old fashioned oats), two eggs to make them rise, and a little butter and buttermilk to pull it all together. Oats help fight cholesterol (so says my Cheerios box) and bananas are full of potassium and help fill you up. Sounds like a great combination.

For lunch, how about a tuna salad with avocado? Here you use half the avocado in a homemade dressing, over spinach, celery, pepper, white beans, canned tuna and the other half of the avocado, sliced up. Filling and satisfying.

And since this is our first week post-holiday, we may need a little treat. Like chocolate chia pudding. I’ve made regular chia pudding with vanilla-flavored almond milk and chia seeds soaking it up overnight, but I think the addition of cocoa would be great. This recipe uses the unsweetened almond milk, so they add dates to it for the sweetness. Dates have some fiber, as do the chia seeds, and you’re getting protein and omega-3 fatty acids from the chia seeds as well. This could be dessert or breakfast, in my house.

Welcome back to the real world, and enjoy!

Banana pancakes

3 ripe bananas

2 tablespoons sweet butter

4 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk

1 tablespoon buckwheat honey

2 free-range eggs

1 cup oat flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground organic cinnamon


¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Stir together the bananas, melted butter, buttermilk, and honey. Add eggs one at a time.

Stir together dry ingredients in another bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in wet ingredients and gently combine in as few strokes as possible.

Spoon batter 1/4 cup at a time on a preheated skillet or griddle greased with a dab of butter or a few drops of canola oil. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on the first side until you can see many bubbles forming on the edges. Flip them over and cook for another minute, or until lightly browned.

Spinach salad with tuna and avocado

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 ripe Hass avocado

1 pinch cayenne (ground red) pepper


2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives

1 package baby spinach

2 stalk celery

1 medium red pepper

1 can white kidney (cannellini) beans

2 cans tuna, packed in water

In blender, combine lemon juice, oil, water, mustard, half of avocado, cayenne pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Puree until smooth, scraping container occasionally. Stir in parsley and chives.

In large bowl, toss spinach, celery, pepper, beans, and tuna with dressing. Divide among serving plates.

Thinly slice remaining avocado and arrange on top of salads.

Almost instant chocolate chia pudding

4 large almond milk ice cubes (see note)

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup chia seeds

5-6 pitted Medjool dates, to taste

2-3.5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (see note)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, to taste

Pinch fine grain sea salt or pink Himalayan sea salt

Fill an ice cube tray with almond milk. Freeze until solid. You can use leftovers in smoothies or for more pudding in the future

To make the pudding: Add 3/4 cup almond milk into a high speed blender. Now add the rest of the ingredients, including the almond milk ice cubes. Blend on the highest speed until super smooth. Enjoy immediately or chill in the fridge where it will thicken up even more.

Tips: Add the cocoa powder to taste. Some brands will be stronger than others.

Notes: You will want around 12 tablespoons of almond milk ice cubes added to the pudding. For my tray, this equaled 4 large cubes.

If your dates are firm, I suggest soaking them in hot water for at least 30 minutes before you begin. Drain well.

To turn this into a chocolate "frosty" add more ice cubes to make it super icy.

To make this nut-free, use a nut-free non-dairy milk of your choice.