Peppermint Patties

Summertime is the time we go for cooler, lighter desserts. Classics include strawberry shortcake, key lime pie and of course, ice cream. Today, I have another favorite to add to your summer recipe list: homemade peppermint patties. Mint is traditionally associated with winter, but it’s the perfect treat for the warmer months after you come in from working (or laying, for some lucky souls) outside.

My mom and I have been making these for years and they taste SO much better than the traditional store-bought ones. While still a dessert, they are a bit healthier since they call for low-fat cream cheese and don’t have all the artificial ingredients abundant in most candies. This recipe makes a lot of patties, but they keep in the freezer for a long time. We make them at Christmas time every year and still have some leftover to enjoy during the summer months. Just put them in a plastic bag and freeze until your ready to enjoy them!

Peppermint Patties
Makes A LOT

8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
1 oz. peppermint extract (1 small bottle)
8-9 C powdered sugar
2 C semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
2 C dark chocolate chips
9 T shortening

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and extract until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar until mixture is stiff. Shape into balls and press down to form flattened circles. Chill in the freezer for 30-45 minutes on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Melt chocolate chips and shortening in double broiler, stirring often. Dip each patty in chocolate until covered and place back on cookie sheet. If you have extra chocolate, drizzle it over the patties. Freeze until firm, at least 1 hour and enjoy!



Fueling Your Workout: The Best Pre- and Post-workout Snacks

Exercise and eating go hand in hand. You can’t do one without the other and get results. Research has shown that weight-loss/weight-maintenance is 70% diet and 30% exercise. This surprises a lot of people, because they think if they workout, they can eat whatever they want. Sadly, it’s A LOT easier to consume calories than it is to burn them. For example, to burn off one 20 oz. bottle of soda, you would have to run for approximately 50 minutes.

In addition, properly fueling yourself before and after workouts can really make a difference in your muscle development and recovery. If you go into a workout hungry, you will likely fatigue faster and won’t have as good of a workout. In contrast, if you slam a quarter pounder and a side of fries before hoping on the treadmill, you probably won’t feel so hot either. Eating a candy bar after lifting instead of a more nutritious option won’t result in maximal muscle production. The list of examples goes on and on.

Moral of the story, what you eat before and after physical activity does matter. It’s important to note that everyone is different. Some people tolerate certain types of foods and amounts better than others. Personally, I have to eat something small before I workout or I feel sick and like I’m going to faint…plus I’m ravenous after. My mom on the other hand, can’t tolerate anything less than an hour before working out, even if it’s something small, or she feels queasy. Use these tips as guidance and play around with them to find your perfect fit.


30-60 minutes before you exercise:

  • Carbohydrate-rich
  • Low fat
  • Low protein
  • Low in fiber

Why: Carbohydrates (found primarily in grains, fruits and dairy foods) give you a burst of quick, easy-to-digest energy, making them ideal to eat before your workout. Fat, protein and fiber take a longer time to digest, so limit these before exercising to avoid muscle cramps.

Sample snacks: granola bar, dried fruit or fresh fruit, crackers



15-60 minutes after exercise:

  • High protein
  • Moderate carbohydrate
  • Fluids

Why: Protein (found primarily in meats, beans, nut and dairy foods) helps repair damaged muscles, making it the primary macronutrient of concern post-workout. You also want to consume a moderate amount of carbohydrates as well to help replenish your glycogen (carbohydrate) stores. Be sure to drink plenty of water after a workout as well.

 Sample snacks:

Banana with peanut butter, ½ sandwich low-fat yogurt with granola or fruit, crackers and cheese, trail mix, glass of chocolate milk


Cheesy Black Bean Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Hola! Happy *almost* Cinco De Mayo! To celebrate, I wanted to share something besides the traditional enchiladas, nachos, etc. I had a craving for beans (I know, who craves beans besides nutrition majors right??) so I started brainstorming ways to make them the star ingredient of a main dish.

After letting my creative juices flow for a bit, I came up with the idea of black bean stuffed poblano peppers! Poblano peppers are not traditionally spicy and they are akin in flavor to green bell peppers. However, beware, you can come across a fiery one every now and again!

This dish is great because it uses common ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. The only thing I had to go out to buy were the peppers. In addition, placing the filling in a poblano pepper results in a lighter alternative compared to the usual tortilla-laden fare. Plus, you get an automatic serving of vegetables, which is always a goal of mine at meal times.

These have mucho flavor plain, but you can also dress them up with a dollop of guac and/or low-fat sour cream if you choose. Serve with a side of Mexican rice or a salad for a complete, nutritious and satisfying meal.

Cheesy Black Bean Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Serves 4


4 medium-large poblano peppers, split, stems and seeds removed

1-15oz. can low-sodium black beans*

½ large bell pepper, diced

½ medium onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

½ T olive oil

pinch of salt

¼ C shredded cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with spray.

Heat oil in a medium-large skillet on medium heat. Add pepper, onion, garlic and pinch of salt. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Turn heat off and add spices. Stuff bean mixture into poblano peppers. Top each pepper with 1 T. cheese. Place on cookie sheet and cover with aluminum foil. Bake 30 minutes, cool and serve.