• Theresa Gentile

Updated: Jul 14

These easy ice pops have everything I love in them…peaches, cream and vegetables! The kids won’t know you stuck some cauliflower into these guilt-free treats.




I can’t help myself. I love cold treats and I love making them healthy, especially for the kids.

And I love saying yes to seconds.


I’ve made these two different ways. The first time, I just blenderized the cauliflower in with the rest of the ingredients. And, although, the cauliflower didn't completely pulverize (I probably could have done a better job at blending it - I mixed it in a regular blender and I could have used the Ninja), my kids still ate it and weren't one bit bothered by the slightly grainy texture.

The second time I made these ice pops, I made a sort of cauliflower cream first. Then, I blended all the ingredients together. This made for a creamier texture, so even the pickiest of food sleuths would be duped. The cauliflower cream requires cooking the cauliflower first, so it definitely takes more time than just throwing it all in the blender. It's also something you can do in advance and freeze if you happen to find yourself with the rare opportunity of excess cauliflower and excess time.

In regards to the peaches, I’ve used a combination of fresh with skin, and rinsed, canned peaches successfully. I’ll often cut pieces of overripe peaches or pieces my kids don’t want to eat and throw them in the freezer where they’ll await their ice pop fate. I keep the skins on to preserve the fiber and nutrient profile.


Peaches and Cauliflower Cream Ice Pops


Makes about 6 pops


Ingredients:

2 cups sliced peaches (fresh/frozen/canned with or without skin)

1 teaspoon almond extract (optional, but highly recommend)

For the cauliflower cream:

1 cup chopped cauliflower (fresh or frozen)

1 cup water

1 cup milk, skim or 1%

2-3 Tablespoons half and half

To make the Cauliflower Cream:

Bring cauliflower and 1 cup of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cook for 5-7 minutes until cauliflower is tender.


Let cool slightly. Blenderize the cauliflower mixture by removing the cooked cauliflower and ~1/4 cup of the liquid into a blender. Puree until completely combined. Then, add the milk and cream and pulse to combine. If you’d like it thinner, you can add more of the cooking liquid and combine.


Then, add peaches and almond extract to a blender and mix to pureed consistency.


If you’re not making the cauliflower cream:

Add cauliflower, ½ cup milk, 3 Tbsp half and half, peaches and almond extract to a blender and mix until pureed to desired consistency.


Pour into ice pop molds, freeze and enjoy!


Nutrition Facts:

Per pop: (using 1% milk and 3 Tbsp half and half)


Calories: 52.5

Fat: 1.5 grams

Protein: 2.5 grams

Carbohydrates: 8


Let me know if you make them!

  • Theresa Gentile

Updated: Jul 14

If you love Peanut Butter cups as much as I do, you’ll love this lighter version. It’s full of peanut butter chocolatey goodness and the perfect creamy consistency thanks to the low-fat cream cheese.





Peanut butter and chocolate. In my opinion, it’s a match made in heaven. I decided one day to try putting together my own peanut butter cups using natural peanut butter and dark chocolate.


I exert very little discipline when it comes to Reeses peanut butter cups despite the knowledge of the additives, one of them being soy lecithin (an emulsifier that creates that silky texture). So, if I wanted to indulge my craving with something more natural, I’d have to make it myself.


My search for copycat Reeses peanut butter cups came up with numerous results, so I made a few versions with just peanut butter, powdered sugar and chocolate in a mold, which I then froze. Even with a thin layer of peanut butter, the result was a mouth full of too much gooeyness that wasn’t quite enjoyable.


Then, I remembered that classic peanut butter fudge pie recipe that I’ve made so many times as a quick, no-bake dessert that everyone always enjoys. The peanut butter is enlightened to a level of fluffy, creamy goodness and frozen in a pie shell. So, I made this (portion-controlled) treat by adding the peanut butter mixture in a silicone baking mold (which was perfect for popping out these treats without damaging them). I then layered the peanut butter layer with a layer of chocolate.


I didn't put a bottom layer of graham cracker crumbs in each mold, which I think would have been a nice touch and would have prevented them from melting so quickly in my fingers. (Although these are so good, they won’t last more than a few minutes in your hands anyway.)


For the chocolate, I melted dark chocolate (you can also use semi-sweet chocolate) with a little coconut oil to make the chocolate harden more like a shell. You can also use butter or shortening, but coconut oil is more heart-healthy.


Cream cheese or Neufchatel? Are they the same thing?


Not really, but they can be used interchangeably. American Cream Cheese and American Neufchâtel are both dense, tangy and spreadable. The biggest difference between them is that Neufchâtel is made using only milk (23% milkfat), and, cream cheese is made with milk and cream (33% milk fat). Here, in the United States, Philadelphia cream cheese markets their low fat cream cheese as Neufchâtel.


According to the USDA, regular cream cheese must be <55% moisture and >33% fat. Neufchâtel cheese must be <65% moisture and between 20-33% fat.


You could also try making these peanut butter pie treats using non-fat cream cheese. Although, honestly, it's the difference of about only 5 calories per piece.



Frozen Peanut Butter Pie Treats


Ingredients:

1 cup dark chocolate chips or chocolate pieces

2 teaspoons coconut oil

½ cup creamy Natural Peanut Butter

4 oz (1/2 an 8 oz package) of low-fat (or non-fat) cream cheese, softened

½ cup powdered sugar

½ cup whipped cream or Cool Whip

Directions:

Makes about 18


Mix together the peanut butter, powdered sugar and cream cheese in a bowl.


Fold in the whipped cream.


Spread mixture into a metal or silicone muffin baking tin. I spread it to ~1/2 inch thickness, but you can make them as thick or thin as you’d like.


Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl along with the coconut oil.


Microwave on 70% power for one minute.


Drizzle chocolate over each peanut butter piece.


Freeze at least 2 hours. Enjoy right out of the freezer!


Nutrition:

Per piece:


Calories: 102

Fat: 7.2 grams

Protein: 2.5 grams Carbohydrates: 136


Did you try them? Let me know!











References:

https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/CID%20Cream%20Cheese%2C%20Neufchatel%20Cheese%2C%20and%20Related%20Products.pdf

  • Theresa Gentile

Updated: Jul 10

It’s not always easy, and never guaranteed, to get a good night’s sleep as a parent but getting quality sleep might just be one of the things on which you should focus if you’re trying to lose weight.





If you’re a parent, you’re either at the point where sleep is an enigma - something you desire so bad you can taste it – or it’s a luxury your body just won’t allow you to indulge in any more. Either way, we know how crucial sleep is to our physical and mental health. Sleep is necessary for memory consolidation, clearance of brain metabolites, and restoration of nervous, immune, skeletal, and muscular systems.


Despite this knowledge the CDC reports that 1/3 of Americans get less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night to maintain optimal health. Even worse, 2/3 of teenagers get the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep of school nights thought to increase concentration and prevent depression and motor vehicle accidents.


There’s also quite a bit of research to show that lack of sleep, even a deficit of a few hours each night, can be harmful to your weight loss efforts.


How much sleep is enough sleep?


According to the National Sleep Foundation’s recommendations:


The National Sleep Foundation's recommended amount of sleep per age group.

Newborns 0–3 months 14–17 hours

Infants 4–11 months 12–15 hours

Toddlers 1-2 years 11–14 hours

Preschoolers 3–5 years 10–13 hours

School-age Children 6–13 years 9–11 hours

Teenagers 14–17 years 8–10 hours

Younger adults 18–25 years 7–9 hours

Adults 26–64 years 7–9 hours

Older adults 65+ years 7-8 hours


You can’t go wrong by getting enough shut eye, but here are some facts and research on the connection between sleep and weight loss.

How lack of sleep prevents you from losing weight:


1. Lack of sleep inhibits the use of your rational brain – so you choose to eat more junk


A deficit of just a few hours of sleep per night (1-3 hours for example), prevents the rational part of the brain from working at maximum capacity. When you’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, it’s much easier to make the conscious decision to eat healthful foods. But sleep deprivation makes that neurological system of rewards and motivation work less efficiently. You’re more apt to choose foods higher in fat and carbohydrates. You seek more rewards that make your brain light up and release the feel-good hormones.


2. Loss of sleep causes you to eat more total calories


Lack of sleep alters appetite regulation. In one study, 14 women (8 normal weight and 6 overweight and obese women) all completed 2 days of 9 hours of sleep per night; 4 days of 5.5 hours of sleep; and 2 days of 9.3 hours of sleep. Their food records revealed an increase of 20% (or about 415) calories per day during the period of restricted sleep.


Other studies have found an increase in anywhere from 300-559 extra calories per day in sleep deficient study participants.


3. Sleep loss may decrease energy expenditure


So, not only does the research show that a lack of sleep can cause you to eat more calories in a day and eat more unhealthy fats and carbs, but lack of sleep may decrease the number of calories you burn at rest. In other words, lack of sleep may decrease your resting metabolic rate.


There have been conflicting results regarding this. Buxton and colleagues performed 2 studies. In the first, the researchers found that restricting sleep to 5 hours per night over 7 nights had no effect on energy expenditure. Another study of theirs found that restricting sleep to 6.5 hours per 28 hours (while extending the day to a 28-hour day) decreased resting metabolic rate by 8% compared to their baseline participants. (This induced both sleep restriction and circadian disruption.)


Another explanation as to how sleep deprivation decreases energy expenditure is through altering our thermoregulation and through fatigue.


4. Lack of sleep may just give us more opportunity to eat


Longer waking hours are, naturally, going to be associated with more eating. And, often, foods chosen to eat in the middle of the night are not consumed out of hunger, but out of boredom or in response to another emotional desire.


5. Lack of sleep may decrease insulin sensitivity


Insulin insensitivity is a hallmark of type 2 diabetes and it can creep up silently for years until there’s a problem. In the case of type 2 diabetes, one would have increased blood sugar and increased blood insulin levels. Insulin can promote weight gain, so we don’t want excess insulin floating around.


In one study, 15 healthy, non-obese young adults had their insulin and glucagon checked after undergoing a sleep restriction and habitual sleep (5 hours vs. 7 hours, respectively). When they lacked sleep, the participants had high fasting insulin levels and glucagon levels (the hormone that signals your body to release more glucose into your blood).


There are other studies that show that sleep deprivation from 1 night to a few nights, all the way to complete deprivation, had negative effects on glucose metabolism and whole body increased blood sugar.


6. Sleep loss may make you hungrier and retain more body fat


In one study, overweight middle-aged adults were assigned to sleep 5.5 hours per night over 2 weeks and consumed ~90% of the normal amount of calories that they usually eat.


This sleep deprivation coupled with less calories per day was associated with increased ghrelin, which is the hormone responsible for making us feel hungry. It also decreased the hormone leptin, which is the hormone responsible for signaling that we’re full after a meal. To make matters worse, lack of sleep appeared to promote retention of fat (made it harder to burn off fat mass).



The takeaway – if you’re trying to lose weight, or even maintain your weight, sleep should be on your list of priorities at some point. It’s an important part of self-care that you shouldn’t ignore. Getting adequate shut eye will help to make conscious, healthy decisions around food and exercise, give you energy to exercise and keep your hormones in check. When those hormones are altered, it’s the perfect storm for your body to hold on to its fat mass and prevent you from burning it off.


Some tips on how to get more sleep and sleep better:

  1. Reduce screen time before bed

  2. Reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex only (don’t watch TV or work in your bedroom if you can help it)

  3. Don’t eat within 1 hour of sleep

  4. Allow some wind down time at night before bed

  5. Keep to a schedule of sleep and wake every night, including weekends

  6. Limit alcohol consumption, as it interferes with sleep

  7. Don’t toss and turn! After 20 minutes of being awake, get up, leave the bed and read something really boring, like a car manual, not an electronic screen.

  8. Keep a notepad by your bed to jot down those thoughts that pop up in the middle of the night and, inevitably, keep you awake. Do this brain dump before bed, as well, if you have a lot on your mind.

  9. Try sleeping somewhere else. Are you someone that can sleep better in a hotel, or another bed, than your own? You’ve psyched yourself out of sleeping in your bed. Try the couch. You can even try sleeping with your head at the food of your bed. Try it, you’ll be surprised.

  10. Try a white noise machine or really noisy fan if you’re a light sleeper and noises wake you up.


If you’re interested in learning how my Busy Mamma Weight Loss Bootcampers go through my system of transformation around food, exercise, stress and unhealthy habits, email me to set up a time to talk.











References:

Dolezal BA, Neufeld EV, Boland DM, Martin JL, Cooper CB. Interrelationship between Sleep and Exercise: A Systematic Review [published correction appears in Adv Prev Med. 2017;2017:5979510]. Adv Prev Med. 2017;2017:1364387. doi:10.1155/2017/1364387


St-Onge MP. The role of sleep duration in the regulation of energy balance: effects on energy intakes and expenditure. J Clin Sleep Med. 2013;9(1):73-80. Published 2013 Jan 15. doi:10.5664/jcsm.2348


Patel, S.R. and Hu, F.B. (2008), Short Sleep Duration and Weight Gain: A Systematic Review. Obesity, 16: 643-653. doi:10.1038/oby.2007.118


Nedeltcheva AV, Kilkus JM, Imperial J, Schoeller DA, Penev PD. Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity. Ann Intern Med. 2010;153(7):435-441. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-153-7-201010050-00006


Kline CE. The bidirectional relationship between exercise and sleep: Implications for exercise adherence and sleep improvement. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2014;8(6):375-379. doi:10.1177/1559827614544437


Wang X, Greer J, Porter RR, Kaur K, Youngstedt SD. Short-Term Moderate Sleep Restriction Decreases Insulin Sensitivity in Young Healthy Adults. Sleep Health. 2016;2(1):63-68. doi:10.1016/j.sleh.2015.11.004


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