Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

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You know fall has arrived when pumpkin recipes start popping up everywhere and you get the urge to run to the nearest store, pick up a can of pumpkin and bake a delicious fall treat.  I love pumpkin and can eat it in just about anything.  I also love the combination of pumpkin and chocolate, so these bars definitely hit the spot!

These bars are quick to whip up and are a delicious treat for any fall afternoon.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart http://www.marthastewart.com/336431/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-squares


2 Cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1 Cup butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 Cup sugar

1 egg

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together dry ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside.  Cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer.  Add vanilla and egg until mixed in.  Add pumpkin and mix until well combined.  The mixture will look lumpy.  Gradually add dry ingredients until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Spread into 9×13 greased pan.  Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown.  Cool and cut bars after they are cool.

Makes 30 bars.

Weight Watchers Points Plus: 4




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Game Day Chili

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Chili always reminds me of Sunday fall afternoons, watching football and hanging out with friends and family.  Yesterday was the season opener for the Minnesota Vikings and my husband and I had two of our close friends over for the game and lunch.  I made this chili and it was delicious!

This recipe was adapted from http://www.momswhothink.com/easy-recipes/best-chili-recipe.html .

There are lots of different chili recipes out there but I especially liked this one as it has everything: beans, tomatoes, beef, and two special ingredients, beer and cocoa powder!


3 lb ground beef (I used 85/15)

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 Cup chopped onion

8 oz Hunt’s tomato sauce

10 oz can of kidney beans

10 oz can of pinto beans

20 oz can of diced tomatoes

1 Cup water

1 can beer 14oz

3 Tbsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp unsweeted cocoa powder

1/2 tsp hot sauce

Brown ground beef in a large sauce pot, drain fat.  Add chopped onions and garlic, cook until onions are tender.  Add remaining ingredients and stir.  Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer and cook for 2 hours.  Serve your favorite toppings.

Makes 20 servings

Weight Watchers Points Plus: 6

What is your favorite type of chili?

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Healthy Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

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Fall is here!  It’s so crazy that all of a sudden we hit September and fall just comes out of nowhere.  Even though it has still been warm here in Minnesota, fall is undeniably here.  The leaves outside our apartment are starting to fall, and that distinctive smell of Fall is in the air.  I love Fall, and it is a beautiful time of year here in Minnesota.  It is such a special season, filled with football, pumpkins, and crisp weather.  Today was the opening day for the Minnesota Vikings (GO VIKINGS) and we had two of our friends over for lunch and the game.  Both the lunch and our game were a success.  The Vikings won in overtime, sweet right?  And our lunch was scrumptious; even now writing this post I am still full…  For lunch we had a great chili (I’ll post that recipe later), hot spinach and artichoke dip, veggies, and zucchini brownies (also a future post).

The hot spinach and artichoke dip was to die for!  I have made other spinach and artichoke dips before but since I am lactose intolerant and trying to be somewhat healthy on game-day, it is sometimes hard to find a recipe that I can have.  I came across this recipe at ACAC (http://www.acac.com/2011/12/22/hot-spinach-and-artichoke-dip/) and thought I’d give it a try.  Let me tell you, it turned out great!  I made a couple of adaptations and it was a big hit with my husband and our friends.

This recipe uses non-fat Greek yogurt, which I love using in cooking and baking.  I also decided to make it in my crockpot so it could stay warm throughout the whole game.  Definitely put this recipe on your game-day list as it is a winner!


1/2 Cup light Miracle Whipe

1/2 Cup fat free plain Greek yogurt

1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 Cup grated Swiss cheese

1/2 Cup grated white cheddar (or your cheese of choice, lots of recipes use mozzarella, but I can’t eat it, hence the white cheddar)

3 cloves garlic, minced

ground black pepper to taste

10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

14 oz artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

Mix together all ingredients except for spinach and artichokes in crockpot.  Add spinach and artichokes and mix well.  Sprinkle extra grated Parmesan cheese on top if desired.  Heat on high for 1 hour in crockpot and then keep warm. Serve with veggies, pita chips, or crackers.

Makes 12 servings

If you do not have a crockpot you could bake it in the oven instead 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Weight Watchers Points Plus: 3 points per serving

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Blackberry Overnight Oats

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I recently learned about overnight oats and immediately decided that I needed to give them a try.  So two nights ago I decided to whip up a jar of overnight oats for breakfast the next day.  They were so easy to make and took less than five minutes.  And lo and behold the next morning, all I had to do was take the jar out of the fridge, grab a spoon and enjoy.  It was delicious and was the perfect start to my morning.

This recipe is from Two Peas and their Pod for Overnight Blueberry Almond Oats.  I adjusted it slightly and used blackberries instead of blueberries.  I also omitted the almonds.


1/3 Cup vanilla non-fat yogurt (you could also use Greek yogurt)

1/3 Cup milk (I used Lactaid as I am lactose-intolerant, but any type of milk or soy/almond milk would work)

1/3 old-fashioned oats

1/2 Cup blackberries

Cinnamon, 1 or 2 dashes sprinkled on top

Mix together yogurt, milk, oats, and berries in a jar or bowl.  I used a mason jar which I liked because you can just screw on the lid and pop it right into the fridge, no clean up necessary!  Sprinkle cinnamon on top of oat mixture.  Put jar or covered bowl in fridge overnight.  Take out of fridge the next morning and enjoy!

This recipe is very versatile and you can feel free to customize it with your favorite berries, nuts, or raisins.  Whatever sounds good to you!  It is also 6 Weight Watchers Points Plus which makes for a delicious filling and healthy breakfast.

What are your favorite overnight oats recipes?

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Chocolate and Butterscotch Chip Oatmeal Cookies

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Some people grew up loving butterscotch, I was not one of them.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like butterscotch, I just didn’t have it very often when I was young.  Recently I have been using it more and I love its unique sweet buttery flavor.  These cookies are great and I like the mix of both semi-sweet and butterscotch chips that create a wonderful melt-in-your-mouth flavor.  I have also attempted to make these cookies a little better for your waistline by using Smart Balance spread and using Splenda sugar and brown sugar blends.  If you want to use the traditional butter and sugars you can.  For the sugar and brown sugar you need to use twice as much as you would for the Splenda blends.  I have put the amounts for real sugar and brown sugar in parentheses.

I love putting oatmeal in my cookies. I think it gives the cookies a great texture and also makes you feel a little bit better about eating that second cookie.  Hey it adds fiber right?  And helps to lower your cholesterol.  Now you are definitely having the second cookie!


1/2 Cup Smart Balance (or you can use butter)

1/4 Cup Splenda sugar blend (or 1/2 cup sugar)

1/4 Cup Splenda brown sugar blend (or 1/2 cup brown sugar)

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 Cup of chocolate chips

1 Cup of butterscotch chips

1 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Cream Smart Balance and sugars in a stand mixer or by hand.  Stir in vanilla and egg until well mixed.  In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.  Stir gradually into butter mixture.  Once mixed, fold in chocolate/butterscotch chips and oats.  Spray 2 baking sheets with Pam.  Drop rounded teaspoons onto baking sheets.  Bake for 9 minutes until golden.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Makes 24 cookies.

I hope you will enjoy these cookies as much as my family and I have.  They are also 4 Weight Watchers Points Plus so you can enjoy one without the guilt.

What are some of your favorite butterscotch recipes?

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Guiltless Chocolate Chip and Butterscotch Blondies

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Blondies are great right?  That wonderful chewiness and great buttery flavor are just to die for.  I love blondies, which is no surprise as I like pretty much all sweet things, but I can’t make them very often or I would eat them all.  So I have adapted this recipe to make a healthier, guilt-free blondie.  This recipe can help get your sweet fix without all the guilt.

I cut the sugar and fat content in half by using nonfat yogurt and Splenda sugar and brown sugar blends.  This is my first time using the Splenda sugar blends.  I have used the regular Splenda before, but never for baking as I was nervous as how it would turn out.  But these turned out great and I will happily use the Splenda sugar blends again because who can turn down saving half of the calories from sugar?

Recipe adapted from browneyedbaker at http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2010/08/18/chewy-chunky-blondies/


2 Cups all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda                                                                     

1/2 tsp salt

1 stick of butter

1/4 Cup of nonfat vanilla yogurt (plain would also work)

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1/4 Cup Splenda sugar blend

3/4 Cup Splenda brown sugar blend

1 Cup chocolate chips

1 Cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Spray or butter a 9×13 inch baking pan.  In a large mixing bowl or in a stand mixer, cream the butter, yogurt, vanilla, and sugar blends together.  Add eggs one by one and mix on medium speed for a minute after each egg.  Sift together dry ingredients.  Gradually add dry ingredients to batter and stir until well combined.  Stir in chocolate and butterscotch chips.  Spread dough into baking pan with a spatula.  Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool before cutting.  This makes about 36 bars.

I hope you will enjoy these blondies as much as I have, and at 3 Weight Watchers Points Plus per serving, how can you pass these up?


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Ground Turkey and Black Bean Chili

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I can eat chili year round.  I think it is the perfect meal that is both satisfying and comforting and is also quick and easy to make.  Ground turkey has less fat than ground beef which is in traditional chili and all of the vegetables in this chili will help keep you full and satisfied.  Chili is also a great meal to make because you can easily sneak in those vegetables that your kids or husband are always pushing around on their plates.

This recipe is adapted from Six Sisters Stuff’s Black Bean Taco Soup


1 pound of ground turkey

1 packet taco seasoning, or 3 tsp taco seasoning

1 14 oz can of corn

1 14 oz can of black beans, drained (or your favorite type of beans)

3 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes

1 14 oz can of stewed tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 bell pepper, diced

3 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic powder

Freshly ground pepper, seasoned to taste

Brown ground turkey in a pan, drain excess grease.  In a large pot, mix together all ingredients.  Heat over medium heat for 25 minutes.  Makes 10 servings.

This chili will make your day, and at only 4 Weight Watchers Points Plus per serving you can enjoy all of the flavor, with none of the guilt.  Feel free to add your favorite vegetables, jalapenos to give it some kick, or top with sour cream and cheddar cheese to make it a chili all your own!

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Zucchini Mini Muffins

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Welcome to thesweethealthylife, a blog about healthy living with the occasional sweet to see you through! As a girl with a real sweet tooth, I am embarking on a journey to a healthier (and slimmer) me but there are those things that I just can’t live without! About once a week I am seized by the urge to bake,   inevitably I find myself in the kitchen baking up something delicious. My husband doesn’t share my sweet tooth; sure he will have a cookie or one mini muffin (who can have only one?) but he doesn’t crave sweets like I do. If I make cookies I have to lock them away somewhere where I won’t eat them all by the next morning.

This Zucchini Mini Muffin recipe is from my Betty Crocker cookbook which I just love and think it is a great basic cookbook. My mom has a Betty Crocker cookbook from the 1970’s which I used to bake from all the time in high school, so I love baking this recipe as it reminds me of all the great times I have had baking with her.

I love this time of year when you can find zucchini everywhere. I am so jealous of everyone who has a garden and can grow it themselves.  We live in an apartment in Plymouth, Minnesota so we don’t have room for a vegetable garden but hopefully sometime in the future!  I like to make this recipe because for one thing they are delicious, and they also won’t undo your whole day of healthy eating.  So instead of going for that stash of candy or goodies you’ve got hidden away grab 1 or 2 of these!  At 2 Weight Watchers Points Plus per muffin, they won’t make you feel too guilty about have a sweet treat.


3 Cups grated zucchini (about 2-3 medium)

1 2/3 Cups sugar

2/3 Cup canola oil

2 tsp vanilla

4 eggs

3 Cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray 2 mini muffin pans with Pam.  Stir together grated zucchini, sugar, canola oil, vanilla and eggs in a large bowl.  Sift together dry ingredients and stir into zucchini batter.  Pour batter into muffin pans.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Let cool and enjoy!

This recipe could also be used to make 2 loaves of zucchini bread or regular sized muffins.  Or you could go crazy and make a combination of all 3!



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