The Easiest Slow-Cooker Breakfast For Weight Loss

If you want a heartier ¡ª and healthier ¡ª bowl of oatmeal, choose less-processed steel-cut oats. The only issue is that they take much longer to cook ¡ª at least 40 minutes. Making a big batch to freeze is a great option, but if you didn’t have time to do that over the weekend, this is the quickest, easiest way to wake up to a warm, comforting bowl.

All you need is a slow cooker and a good night’s sleep. Just pop a few ingredients in, turn it on before bedtime, and the cinnamony smell will lure you out of bed into your kitchen. This is a pretty basic recipe, so you can dress it up however you like. Below, you’ll find nutritional info for a few flavor combinations, but feel free to get creative. This recipe makes four servings, so if you don’t have anyone to share it with, just save the rest in the fridge. Then in the morning, with a few beeps of the microwave, you’ll have breakfast waiting for three more days that week.

Slow-Cooker Steel-Cut Oatmeal

From Jenny Sugar, POPSUGAR

Slow-Cooker Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Notes

To increase the protein, replace almond milk with unsweetened soy milk. Note that this oatmeal is very soft and liquidy when it first comes out of the slow cooker, but after 20 minutes or so, it firms up as it cools.

Serve Up These Creamy Vegan Stuffed Shells Tonight For Dinner

The following post was originally featured on Delish Knowledge and written by Alex Caspero, who is part of POPSUGAR Select Fitness.

Get #soyinspired with these vegan stuffed shells with butternut sage cream sauce! Tofu ricotta stuffed into jumbo shells and baked in a creamy butternut sauce.

Day by day, our little house is slowly coming along. My in-laws were kind enough to drive down this weekend to help us with the chores that no one wants to do: painting the downstairs, organizing the basement, and endless amounts of yard work. After condo living for the past decade, it’s easy to forget how much effort goes into maintaining a yard. While I’m ready to try my black thumb at gardening this Spring, I sometimes miss the simplicity of having concrete for a front yard. No overgrown bushes, leaves, and weeds to constantly wrestle with.

The highlight of their trip down was bringing our longly awaited farm table, a massive eight-foot oak table that is sure to be the gathering point of our family. My father-in-law has graciously spent his weekends and free time crafting our handmade table and to say it’s a thing of beauty is a gross understandment. I can’t wait for the coming dinner parties, holidays, and events that will happen around that table in the years to come.

Now that we have our table in place, I’m anxiously ready to entertain. I know that the way into most people’s hearts is through a full belly and I’m hoping that this is true with the few friends we’ve made this far. I’m always slightly nervous when I invite people over to dinner for the first time. Should I tell them in advance that we’re vegetarian? Are they going to be OK with our meatless dinners? Deep down I know that everyone is always more than satisfied, but it’s still a lingering question that pops in my mind when I ask new friends to join us for a meal.

Over the years, I’ve relied on a few showstopper dinners that I know will win over any crowd. As the holidays slowly creep toward us, I want to make sure I’m prepared with gorgeous, seasonally-inspired dinners that are not only delicious ¡ª but healthy as well. I want our guests to focus on how yummy the food is instead of what’s missing.

These butternut-sage stuffed shells are worthy of any holiday table. Tofu ricotta stuffed into jumbo shells and then baked in a savory butternut cream sauce, garnished with fried sage and toasted pecans. They are elegant, fairly easy to assemble, and beautiful.

Ironically, tofu ricotta was the very first thing I ever made with tofu. This was way back in high school when I was a newish vegetarian and still experimenting with meat-free swaps. My mom and I bought a container of tofu at the grocery store in hopes of creating a silky ricotta filling, minus the dairy. We opened the package, stuffed it directly into the shells and hoped for the best. Needless to say, it wasn’t our finest cooking moment.

Thankfully, I now know how to make a killer tofu ricotta that actually tastes similar to its dairy counterpart. Crumbled, firm tofu with a bit of spices, lemon juice and nutritional yeast make for a healthy, protein-packed swap this holiday season.

If you want more holiday vegetarian ideas, follow the #SoyInspired campaign on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook.

Vegan Stuffed Shells With Butternut Sage Sauce

From Delish Knowledge

Vegan Stuffed Shells With Butternut Sage Sauce

Vegan Stuffed Shells Recipe

Ingredients

12 ounces jumbo shells1/4 cup toasted pecans, finely choppedButternut Sage Sauce:1 tablespoons olive oil1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage3 cups peeled, seeded, and diced butternut squash1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped3 garlic cloves, chopped1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes2 cups vegetable brothTofu Ricotta:1 lb. package extra firm tofu, drained and rinsed1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice1 tablespoon nutritional yeast1 teaspoon dried parsley1/2 teaspoon dried oregano1/2 teaspoon garlic powder1/2 teaspoon salt

Giving Up Dairy Changed My Body in So Many Surprising Ways

In my 20s, I was a french-fry, soy-ice-cream, pasta-and-bread-loving vegan. I ended up gaining 40 pounds and ¡ª surprise, surprise ¡ª always felt tired, foggy-headed, and on the brink of another cold. After six years, I started eating eggs and dairy, and I felt a little better, but that’s probably because I was finally eating healthier, in an attempt to lose all the weight I’d gained.

Fast-forward 12 years to the Summer of 2014. I was sitting on my couch, flipping through Netflix, and stumbled upon the documentary Vegucated. It takes the stance that being vegan is better for the planet and kinder to animals, and after seeing some heartbreaking video footage, I felt compelled to eat more compassionately and ditch dairy on the spot. I had no idea how dramatically my life was about to improve. Here’s what I noticed within two months of going dairy-free.

Wait, Are These My Skinny Jeans?

Getting dressed one chilly September morning, I grabbed a pair of my favorite skinny jeans and they slipped right on! Since I tend to gain a little weight in the Summer, I was expecting to have to wrestle with them for a bit, but they didn’t feel tight whatsoever. I even slipped them off to check the label to make sure they were the right pair. Yeah, you bet I was smiling and feeling pretty awesome. Since having two kids, I’d been carrying around a few extra pounds that were holding on for dear life (really, my youngest is now 2!), and ditching dairy made it happen in two months without any other change.

Bye-Bye Bloat

Know what the number one reason was for my Costco membership? Lactaid pills. Yep, I popped one every time I ate because even the tiniest drop of butter in a cracker could set me off. I wasn’t always lactose intolerant, but it hit me hard when I went away to college, which was one of the reasons I went vegan back then. I couldn’t leave my house without some trusty pills in my pocket, and I popped at least five a day. My body was telling me not to eat dairy and here I was devouring it every chance I got. And boy, did I pay the price. My belly was constantly bloated and I had more than my fair share of emergency bathroom runs. It seems obvious to anyone that you should stop eating the one thing that makes you feel horrible, but I guess I didn’t realize just how bad I was feeling until I started feeling amazing.

What’s That Amazing Smell?

Sinus surgery. That was the recommendation after years of chronic and painful sinus infections, extensive allergy testing, two CT scans, daily nasal sprays and antihistamines, twice-daily dates with my Neti Pot, months of heavy-duty antibiotics, and heartbreakingly having to find a new home for my two cats. The ear, nose, and throat specialist said it was one of the worst cases he’d seen, and said surgery to remove the congestion and widen my sinuses should be the next step. Talk about scared. There had to be another solution.

I’d heard that dairy can contribute to congestion but considered not being able to breathe or smell a fair trade for cheese. It’s been two months of being dairy free, and now that Fall is in full swing, I should be miserable with allergy stuffiness and sinus pressure. But I’m not. My doctor can’t believe I haven’t needed to refill my meds. I even went apple picking and could actually smell the cider donuts cooking (not that I could eat one!). I teared up. I had a moment right there in the apple orchard. And to think, I almost went through with surgery, when all I needed to do was say no to cheese.

Did You Change Moisturizers?

Seriously, someone asked me this, and I was thrilled. My skin has never been clearer. I didn’t have a bad acne problem, but a pimple always seemed to be cropping up, which was pretty embarrassing for someone in their late 30s. My skin is smoother, softer, and has more of a natural glow. It makes sense, since cow’s milk contains growth hormone, fats, and sugars (yes, organic milk, too), which can aggravate the skin. There’s definitely some strong data showing the correlation between dairy and acne, and although it can take up to six months for skin to heal, I noticed a difference within a month.

Smoothies, Salads, and Sweet Potatoes

Like most people, I tried to eat healthy, but when you’re in a rush or tired from a long day, you grab the quickest thing. As a vegetarian, cheese was like its own food group to me, and admittedly, cheesy pesto paninis, creamy pasta, and pizza were always on the menu. I had to completely rethink my meals and found that with a little bit of prep, I was eating so much healthier. I made green smoothies for breakfast, salads for lunch, and got really creative with using tempeh, tofu, lentils, beans, whole grains, and all sorts of veggies. Ditching dairy meant that I made room for foods that were much more nutrient-packed, and I no longer felt heavy after meals.

Another Three Miles? Sure!

Eating healthier also meant I had more energy. Whether it was going for a run, bike ride, hike, or teaching a yoga class, I felt so peppy and fired up. I had more days in the past two months where I felt like I could keep going and going than I ever had when I was eating dairy. Maybe this is the reason so many athletes go vegan.

Final Thoughts

I know what you’re thinking. “I could never live without __________.” So don’t. If you want to avoid dairy but you could never give up pizza, then give up dairy except for pizza. I will say that for most of your favorite foods there are some pretty outstanding alternatives. My kitchen is constantly stocked with soy milk, soy yogurt, Earth Balance buttery spread, and my fave ¡ª almond milk ice cream. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of vegan cheeses so I just leave it off my pizza or sandwiches, or make my own using raw cashews. Please don’t mourn for the cookies and pancakes you can’t eat. There are so many dairy-free recipes that taste as awesome as ones containing milk and butter. Once you get used to cooking and eating in this new way, it’ll feel just as easy as your diet feels now. If you can’t go cold turkey, do what you can and gradually take milk out of your diet. If your experience is anything like mine, the benefits will speak for themselves, and you’ll be inspired to eliminate dairy completely.

For more tips on going dairy-free, check out:

Tasty Breakfasts Minus the Dairy

Picking the Best Dairy-Free Milk For You

Decadent Desserts That Are Dairy-Free

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Anna Monette Roberts

A 2-Ingredient Snack to Help You Lose Weight

This avocado-based snack will help you lose weight for two awesome reasons: it’s full of healthy fats and fiber. Consuming healthy fats and fiber keeps that “I’m full” feeling going strong, so hunger and cravings will be brushed aside, and you’ll be full for hours. Add the protein, crunch, and saltiness of sunflower seeds, and this snack is a weight-loss superstar. It also helps that you can whip it up in two minutes.

    Cut an avocado in half. Use the side without the pit, and save the other half for later since the pit can help keep the green flesh from browning.Sprinkle one tablespoon of salted sunflower seeds in the middle.Use a spoon to scoop out bites right out of the avocado peel. You don’t even need to bother with dirtying a dish.

Source: Calorie Count

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jenny Sugar

A 2-Ingredient Snack to Help You Lose Weight

This avocado-based snack will help you lose weight for two awesome reasons: it’s full of healthy fats and fiber. Consuming healthy fats and fiber keeps that “I’m full” feeling going strong| so hunger and cravings will be brushed aside| and you’ll be full for hours. Add the protein| crunch| and saltiness of sunflower seeds| and this snack is a weight-loss superstar. It also helps that you can whip it up in two minutes.

    Cut an avocado in half. Use the side without the pit| and save the other half for later since the pit can help keep the green flesh from browning.Sprinkle one tablespoon of salted sunflower seeds in the middle.Use a spoon to scoop out bites right out of the avocado peel. You don’t even need to bother with dirtying a dish.

Source: Calorie Count

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jenny Sugar

The 1 Thing Khlo¨¦ Kardashian Cut Out to Lose 11 Pounds in 6 Weeks

It’s no secret that Khlo¨¦ Kardashian has a team of people who help her stay fit, but when it comes down to it, she’s got to have willpower like everyone else. So when she thought about cutting out a big part of her diet ¡ª dairy ¡ª she was hesitant, but the choice ended up contributing to her 11-pound weight loss in just six weeks.

“I’m obsessed with cheese and milk, but eliminating them from my diet made the biggest difference,” Khlo¨¦ said in the December issue of NewBeauty Magazine. “In a month and a half, I lost 11 pounds just from not eating dairy, without doing anything else different, and that totally blew my mind.”

“I’m way healthier now than I ever was,” she continued. “I stay really hydrated by drinking five liters of water and taking vitamins every single day.”

Of course, Khlo¨¦ also hits the gym . . . hard. The reality star doesn’t take many days off from her intense workout with personal trainer Gunnar Peterson. “Working out does so much for me emotionally,” she said, “but it also makes my skin look better ¡ª everything looks better.”

If you’re thinking about giving up dairy, too, these posts will help:

Giving Up Dairy Changed My Body in So Many Surprising Ways10 Dairy-Free Breakfasts With (at Least!) 15 Grams of ProteinThe 25 Best Dairy-Free TreatsImage Source: Getty / Daniel Knighton

The 1 Thing Khlo¨¦ Kardashian Cut Out to Lose 11 Pounds in 6 Weeks

It’s no secret that Khlo¨¦ Kardashian has a team of people who help her stay fit| but when it comes down to it| she’s got to have willpower like everyone else. So when she thought about cutting out a big part of her diet ¡ª dairy ¡ª she was hesitant| but the choice ended up contributing to her 11-pound weight loss in just six weeks.

“I’m obsessed with cheese and milk| but eliminating them from my diet made the biggest difference|” Khlo¨¦ said in the December issue of NewBeauty Magazine. “In a month and a half| I lost 11 pounds just from not eating dairy| without doing anything else different| and that totally blew my mind.”

“I’m way healthier now than I ever was|” she continued. “I stay really hydrated by drinking five liters of water and taking vitamins every single day.”

Of course| Khlo¨¦ also hits the gym . . . hard. The reality star doesn’t take many days off from her intense workout with personal trainer Gunnar Peterson. “Working out does so much for me emotionally|” she said| “but it also makes my skin look better ¡ª everything looks better.”

If you’re thinking about giving up dairy| too| these posts will help:

Giving Up Dairy Changed My Body in So Many Surprising Ways10 Dairy-Free Breakfasts With (at Least!) 15 Grams of ProteinThe 25 Best Dairy-Free TreatsImage Source: Getty / Daniel Knighton

Make This Tonight to Prevent Tomorrow’s Bloated Belly

If you’ve yet to hop on the overnight-oats bandwagon, this is the perfect recipe to get you started. It’s not only quick and delicious, but it’s chock-full of ingredients that can offer you a flatter, less-bloated tummy. The oats offer complex carbs that fill you up longer and take a while to digest, keeping hunger cravings at bay. This whole grain is also full of fiber, so it keeps you regular, and is proven to speed up metabolism. The added chia seeds are also high in fiber and, once soaked, develop a gelatinous coating which some raw foodists believe helps them to move swiftly through the digestive track.

The yogurt offers probiotics to boost the good bacteria in your gut (go for dairy-free if you’re lactose intolerant). For added fiber, blueberries are a juicy addition, and the banana is rich in potassium, a mineral that helps your body get rid of excess water weight. Pineapple adds a tropical twist, as well as an enzyme that helps ease digestion and banish bloat. Research shows that the calcium and healthy fats in the almond milk and chopped almonds can reduce belly fat. Sprinkle in some cinnamon to kick up your body’s temperature, speeding up your body’s fat burning process, and skip added sweeteners because the fruit is naturally sweet enough.

See how easy it is to use the first meal of the day to battle bloat? And it’ll only take five minutes to make. Just throw everything in a mason jar, put it in the fridge and tomorrow you’ll be spooning into the sweet flavor of flat-belly goodness.

Flat-Belly Overnight Oats

From Jenny Sugar, POPSUGAR

Flat-Belly Overnight Oats

Flat-Belly Overnight Oats

Ingredients

1/2 cup oats1 teaspoon chia seeds1/4 teaspoon cinnamon1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk1/4 cup yogurt (I used Silk Soy Vanilla)1/4 banana1/4 cup pineapple, chopped (fresh or frozen)1/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)1 tablespoon chopped almonds

Make This Tonight to Prevent Tomorrow’s Bloated Belly

If you’ve yet to hop on the overnight-oats bandwagon| this is the perfect recipe to get you started. It’s not only quick and delicious| but it’s chock-full of ingredients that can offer you a flatter| less-bloated tummy. The oats offer complex carbs that fill you up longer and take a while to digest| keeping hunger cravings at bay. This whole grain is also full of fiber| so it keeps you regular| and is proven to speed up metabolism. The added chia seeds are also high in fiber and| once soaked| develop a gelatinous coating which some raw foodists believe helps them to move swiftly through the digestive track.

The yogurt offers probiotics to boost the good bacteria in your gut (go for dairy-free if you’re lactose intolerant). For added fiber| blueberries are a juicy addition| and the banana is rich in potassium| a mineral that helps your body get rid of excess water weight. Pineapple adds a tropical twist| as well as an enzyme that helps ease digestion and banish bloat. Research shows that the calcium and healthy fats in the almond milk and chopped almonds can reduce belly fat. Sprinkle in some cinnamon to kick up your body’s temperature| speeding up your body’s fat burning process| and skip added sweeteners because the fruit is naturally sweet enough.

See how easy it is to use the first meal of the day to battle bloat? And it’ll only take five minutes to make. Just throw everything in a mason jar| put it in the fridge and tomorrow you’ll be spooning into the sweet flavor of flat-belly goodness.

Flat-Belly Overnight Oats

From Jenny Sugar| POPSUGAR

Flat-Belly Overnight Oats

Flat-Belly Overnight Oats

Ingredients

1/2 cup oats1 teaspoon chia seeds1/4 teaspoon cinnamon1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk1/4 cup yogurt (I used Silk Soy Vanilla)1/4 banana1/4 cup pineapple| chopped (fresh or frozen)1/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)1 tablespoon chopped almonds

4-Ingredient Chocolate Salted Caramels That Are Actually Healthy

You open up a box of chocolates and choose carefully. Maple cream? Nah. Cherry cordial. Ugh, no. Chocolate-covered caramel? Yes, please! You can indulge in one of these for 95 calories, or make your own using four basic ingredients, for only 60 calories.

No candy thermometer needed! These babies couldn’t be easier to whip up. Just place sunflower seeds, dates, and sea salt in a food processor. Press into a pan and freeze.

Cut into squares, smother with melted chocolate, sprinkle on some sea salt (I used pink Himalayan), and pop them back in the fridge. Now there’s a sweet treat you can feel good indulging in.

These are nut free, gluten free, dairy free, and absolutely delicious ¡ª they taste just like the real thing! Give them as a homemade gift, bring them to your next pot luck, or just keep a batch in the fridge when sweet, chocolaty, chewy caramel cravings strike.

Dark Chocolate Salted Caramels

From Jenny Sugar, POPSUGAR Fitness

Dark Chocolate Salted Caramels

Vegan Chocolate-Covered Caramels

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups unsalted roasted sunflower seeds2 cups medjool dates (16), pitted1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt3/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli minichips)Sea salt for topping (optional)