Hot Mom Holiday Tips: Caramel Banana Pudding Cheesecake

Hot Mom LeTroy Cooke shows off her sweet side with her favorite holiday dessert that will impress all your guests!

Photo by Troy Cooke

We’re back with another tasty recipe from one of our fabulous Hot Moms. No holiday meal is complete without a yummy dessert and we found the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving menu. Although this treat may not be the healthiest recipe on our list, there’s no time like the holidays to indulge in moderation. And this creamy, cheesy dessert is just the thing to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Don’t forget to come back soon because each week we will be bringing you our favorite holiday dishes. While you’re in the cooking mood, join us on Pinterest for our Healthy Thanksgiving Recipe Contest and you could win a spa day on us!

Caramel Banana Pudding Cheesecake

By: LeTroy Cooke of Thriftanista in the City / @TheThriftanista

Ingredients:
Crust
  • 40 – 50 vanilla wafers
  • 5 Tbsp butter (softened)
Cheesecake
  • 2 Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 2 bananas (mashed)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 instant banana pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
Topping
  • 20 Vanilla Wafers (crushed)
  • Kraft Caramel
  • Whipped cream
Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350º. Mix softened butter and vanilla wafers in a food processor until finely crushed. Press into a springform pan evenly along bottom and slightly up the sides. Bake 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Mix cream cheese and brown sugar together until smooth. Add in mashed bananas and instant pudding mix. Mix. Add eggs. Mix.

Pour mix on top of crust and bake for 50 – 55 minutes. Remove from oven. Center should still be a little soft. Refrigerate at least  hours.

Once cooled, top with crushed vanilla wafers. Melt caramel over medium heat and drizzle caramel over top of wafers with a spoon. Finish with whipped cream.

cheesecake2

Photos by LeTroy Cooke

Do you have a delicious healthy holiday recipe in your collection? Make sure you send it to leah@spaweekmedia.com and you could be featured on the Spa Week Thanksgiving Menu AND walk away with a $50 Spa and Wellness gift card.

Leah Gay is the Editorial Intern of Spa Week Daily. 

Hot Mom Holiday Tips: Redone Mashed Potatoes

Hot Mom Rachael Pontillo shares her healthy version of mashed potatoes, just in time for Thanksgiving!

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This November, we’re taking a vow of wellness and promising to indulge in a healthy Thanksgiving dinner. But don’t get us wrong, that doesn’t mean we are taking away any of the yumminess! We knew it might be hard to find recipes that are equal parts delicious and nutritious, so we reached out to the experts– our Hot Mom Squad! Everyone knows that moms have the tastiest tricks up their sleeves, and holiday meals are no exception.

Make sure to stay tuned because each week we will be bringing you our favorite healthy dishes. While you’re in the cooking mood, join us on Pinterest for our Healthy Thanksgiving Recipe Contest and you could win a spa day on us!

Redone Mashed Potatoes

By: Rachael Pontillo of HolisticallyHaute.com / @HHaute

Photo by Rachael Pontillo

Photo by Rachael Pontillo

What you need:
  • 1 head of cauliflower (cut into florets, leaves removed)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ cup vegetable stock/broth
  • ½ cup plain almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary
  • ½ a small, sweet onion; minced or finely diced
  • Salt (pink Himalayan or Celtic Sea) and pepper (I used mixed peppercorns but black pepper is fine too) to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil or butter (with coconut “meat”)
Instructions:
  1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, sauté the onion and garlic in the coconut oil over medium heat until the onion is translucent.
  2. Add the cauliflower and sauté it until it starts to soften.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and rosemary and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cover for about 10 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Add the almond milk and cover again until it is reduced by half. Add salt and pepper.
  5. Pour everything into the blender or food processor and pulse until you get the consistency you want.
  6. Pour into a serving container and enjoy!

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Think you’ve got a delicious healthy recipe in your collection? Send it to leah@spaweekmedia.com and you could be featured on the Spa Week Thanksgiving Menu and walk away with a $50 Spa and Wellness gift card.

Leah Gay is the Editorial Intern of Spa Week Daily. 

Four Snack Swaps That Will Keep Your Kids Healthy and Happy

Goodbye grilled cheese sandwiches! It’s time you swapped those traditional after-school snacks with these healthy fruit and veggie varieties.

Kebab

Let’s face it, with a crazy work schedule and the kids’ extensive extracurricular activities, the frozen food aisle can be terribly tempting. But when it comes to feeding your family the right stuff, eating well is actually a lot easier than you think. Having recently attended Hidden Valley’s veggie roundtable event, we picked up some tips on how to swap out those artificially processed and sugar-filled snacks with fresh fruits and great-tasting greens. Check it out.

Cheese-Filled Dates

Don’t indulge your children’s sweet tooth with a box of chocolate chip cookies. Offer them a naturally sweet alternative instead. Stuff pitted dates with goat cheese for a snack that’s as savory as it is satisfying.

Baked Nuts

Satisfy your kids’ salt cravings by swapping out fatty chips with nutritious nuts. Season your favorite sampling of nuts with a drizzle of maple syrup and Hidden Valley’s Original Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix. Bake in the oven at 350°F until crisp.

Guacamole

Forego greasy nachos for a plate of equally delicious guac! Add celery sticks, sliced carrots and bell peppers for a plate that’s packed with ingredients that are good for both grown-ups and a growing brood.

Salad-On-A-Stick

Who needs hamburgers when you can have rich, roasted vegetables on a stick? Coat broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots and kale with olive oil and seasoning. Roast in the oven at 425°F until tender (ca. 15-20 min). Once cooled, thread vegetables onto skewer to serve kebab-style.

For more fabulous #loveyourveggies-inspired recipes, check out HiddenValley.com.

Elle Fure is the Editorial Director of Spa Week Daily.

Three Savory Soups to Keep You Warm This Winter

When the weather outside gets frightful, these soups are so delightful!

Soup Resized

We may be approaching “the most wonderful time of the year,” but we’re also approaching the coldest. Yes, it’s that lovely season when arctic blasts monopolize meteorology reports and scarves are worn as much indoors as they are out. But when winter begins its long reign on the outside, we break out the recipes that make us feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. That’s right, folks, we’re welcoming winter the only way we know how—by ringing in soup season.

Here are the three soups that keep us cozy in the kitchen during the cruel winter months.

PS. If you’re getting into the cooking groove, don’t forget to join us on Pinterest for our Healthy Thanksgiving Recipe Contest. You could win a spa day on us! Click here for how to enter.

French Onion Soup

Nothing satisfies our comfort food cravings like French onion soup. A fall favorite for years, this tasty treat is far less complicated than it looks.

To begin, cook four sliced onions and two thyme sprigs in butter for twenty minutes. (Make sure you keep it covered.) After twenty minutes, uncover the pot and continue cooking until caramelized (ca. one hour).  Add six cups of beef broth and simmer for ten minutes. Add cognac, salt and pepper. To finish, top with two pieces of gruyère toast.

Butternut Squash Soup

A bowl of Butternut squash soup is always on our pre-Holiday cooking agenda. And while there are a myriad of mouthwatering variations out there, we prefer the classic kind.

Start by dicing a carrot, celery stalk and onion. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pan and mix in the carrot, celery and onion. Cook for three-four minutes. Once the vegetables have begun to soften, stir in four cups of cubed butternut squash, half a teaspoon of chopped, fresh thyme and four cups of chicken broth. Season with half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until squash is tender (ca. 30 min). Finish by pureeing soup in an immersion blender.

Tomato Basil Soup

If there’s one soup we never tire of, it’s tomato.  But as much as we love Andy Warhol’s immortalized American staple, we know we can cook up something more creative than Campbell’s.

To make your own tomato basil soup, put two cans of crushed tomatoes and one can of chicken broth in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and let the soup simmer for approximately ten minutes. Add about twenty minced fresh basil leaves and one teaspoon of sugar. Reduce the heat even more, and stir in one cup of heavy whipping cream and a half cup of butter. Let it cook until all the butter is melted.

Elle Fure is the Editorial Director of Spa Week Daily.

Six Teas That Reduce Stress and Soothe The Soul

Don’t let the darker days get you down! We’ve scoured the web for the six teas that will whip you into shape during the winter season.

Tea

There’s no getting around it—‘tis the season of high stress, sore throats and (everyone’s favorite) the sniffles. Work kicks into high gear before the holidays and the sudden onslaught of cold weather has us hibernating beneath the covers for as long as humanely possible. In short, late autumn can often turn into a time of anxiety and physical fatigue. So what can we do about it? Well, sometimes a little tea can provide more than just a little sympathy.

We’ve rounded up six teas that can help soothe your body and your soul this season.

Chamomile Tea

Our first contender has long been touted as the top tea for relaxation, but do you know why? Its herbal properties help soothe the stomach as well as reduce mild anxiety. The absence of caffeine in chamomile tea will also help calm you down before bed.

Passionflower Tea

Passionflower, which is known to decrease muscle tension and calm nerves, is actually prescribed commercially (in the form of Oxazepam) to treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder. But you don’t need a drug to reap the stress-reducing benefits of this healthy herb. Simply add a teaspoon of dried passionflower to a cup of boiling water and you’ll be good to go.

Green Tea

Packed with antioxidants (which are pretty much good for everything), green tea also contains theanine—an amino acid which helps increase relaxation by promoting alpha waves in the brain. Beware of green tea’s subtle caffeine content, however, and opt for the decaffeinated kind.

Lemon Balm Tea

Lemon Balm contains terpenes which aid in relaxation. They also act positively against cold sores and have even been shown to enhance long-term memory. Combine them with valerian root, and you have the perfect pairing to protect you against pesky anxiety symptoms.

Lavender Tea

If you’re looking to de-stress, look no further. Lavender is as good for your body as it is beautiful. Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, lavender tea is your ally in the battle against bloating. It is also said to lower anxiety levels in women.

Valerian Root Tea

For all you Game of Thrones enthusiasts out there, we’re sorry to say this has nothing to do with Valerian steel (although, we must admit, the name sounds positively medieval). Valerian root possesses sedative properties that will help ensure a good night’s sleep. Don’t drink too much during the day, though, or you’ll end up dragging your feet.

 

Elle Fure is the Editorial Director of Spa Week Daily.