Welcome, I'm Monique! Ambitious Kitchen is a blog devoted to clean eating, healthier baked treats, plus my passion for fitness and nutrition. Bottom line, I love to inspire others in and out of the kitchen! Read more.
Before Tony and I started officially dating, I baked him four different batches of cookies and shipped them to him in the cutest wrapped Martha Stewart boxes I purchased off Amazon. I thought to myself, if this man wants cookies, he’s going to get some damn good cookies. I stayed up until the wee hours baking and packaging each batch in anticipation of this incredible relationship that was about to begin. My entire heart went into those cookies as I knew that would be it for me. When Tony received the box, he text me, “You have won my heart.”
True story. We’re romantics and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Oh hi there! How’s your week been so far? Lately I’ve been traveling quite frequently so keeping the days straight is difficult, if not impossible. This past week I was in Arizona, spending time with Tony while he’s in Spring Training for baseball. We had a completely wonderful time checking out restaurants, climbing Camelback mountain and going on lots of walks.
I LOVE being able to stay active while away from home, how about you?
Ever since I started to do Wellness Wednesdays, many of you requested workouts or a glimpse at what my workouts look like each week. I decided to get together with Lee from Fit Foodie Finds while we were on Princess Cruises to put together a body sculpt series workout for you all.
Lee and I both LOVE working out so when Princess Cruises offered a body sculpt class on the ship, we signed up immediately. To our surprise, the workouts were both challenging and FUN! As a result, we decided to take a few of the moves and put them into a guided 30-minute workout that you can do at home (or while traveling!).
The best part? There are no weights required if you are a beginner! Plus you can take each workout at your own pace and modify each exercise if necessary.
It’s St. Patrick’s Day… and I’m bringing you a recipe for Greek salad. Sorry for being a bad blogger. I just can’t seem to get down with recipes spot on for holidays. Something to work on, I guess.
Do you have a favorite type of food? Over the years mine has varied but mostly always stuck with Spanish cuisine because of the bold, spicy flavors. More recently, I’ve had a major crush on Greek and/or Mediterranean food of any sort. The feta! The olives! The pita bread! Oh, and tzatziki dip? YESSSS.
Traveling is one of the best things you can possibly do. It creates relationships (it’s how Tony and I met), pushes you to learn an incredible amount about yourself, encourages you to step out of your comfort zone and expands your knowledge.
Over the past year, I made a commitment to travel more. To see the world, other cultures and also to just relax and enjoy life. Everytime I come back from a trip, I am rejuvenated, full of ideas and a little more ambitious. Lucky for me, my job enables me to travel and share my experiences with all of you!
Most recently I went on a 7-day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean with Princess Cruises. I’ll have a couple posts in the next month sharing my experience with all of you. There were so many different experiences, it becomes difficult to narrow it down to just one post.
So I’m back from my fabulous trip to the Bahamas, St. Thomas and St. Maarten and ready to push cookies in your face. You get me, right? I promise to chat about all the details of my trip soon. It’s been a little hard to adjust to being back home. Vacation blues means cookies are a necessity right?
I think I was born with a sweet tooth. A ravenous one that comes out late at night and encourages me to go straight to the cupboard. I can’t help it, I swear.
As I mentioned last week, I’m trying to cut back on my refined sweeteners so I’ve been limiting my treat options down quite a bit. I’ve kind of been trying to adapt a new mentality about really nourishing my body; this means I pick nutritious food over empty calorie or sugar-packed sweets. Sounds easy, but it can be actually quite challenging. Turning down french fries when you are in a relationship with ketchup is never fun and it’s even more difficult to say no to Reese’s Eggs this time of year.
Of course, everything in moderation. I’ll take a peanut-buttery egg or two every now and then! Overall I’m determined to be mindful of what I’m putting into my body plus how it will nourish and make me feel after I’ve eaten it.
I’ve been sick with a cold for the past few days, so soup has really been the only thing desirable. That and it’s been snowing in Chicago again, which means I don’t like to leave the house unless I’m going to work out. I’m serious. There have been too many times this Winter where I haven’t been able to feel my toes, even when they’re in boots.
The upside to all of this is that I’m going on a cruise next week with my Mom! We’re beyond excited to have a little mom and daughter time together. Can you believe we’ve actually never had a REAL vacation together?! Nope, not even once. I’m so glad that I’m able to bring my her, because well you know, moms are indeed the best.
Hi there! Today we’re going to be talking about sugar in the unrefined state. For the past few years, I’ve been baking and blogging about unrefined sweeteners and have tried my best to incorporate them whenever possible into my healthier baked recipes. I thought this would be a good time to introduce a guide, as I’m trying to cut refined sugars out of my diet. Obviously very difficult for me because I really like to bake, however I think you’ll notice my use of more unrefined sweeteners in my upcoming recipes.
I want to do my best to try and explain to you the difference between refined and unrefined sweeteners, why you should be using them over granulated or refined sugar, plus show you the different varieties and where you can find them.
So, what’s the difference between refined sugar and unrefined sugar?
Refined sugar is sugar that has gone through a refining process, or chemical process to remove the molasses that’s naturally found in it. Refining sugar removes much of the sugar’s natural minerals and nutrients including phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. This type of sugar is highly processed and therefore has a higher shelf stable life; it also tends to dissolve more quickly then unrefined sugar, which is why it’s so commonly used in the food and beverage industries.
You can read more about how they actually refine sugar here.
Unrefined sugars and sweeteners include honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, unsulphered molasses, brown rice syrup, coconut sugar, sucanat, fruit, date sugar and many more. These unrefined sweeteners provide more nutrition for our bodies than processed sugar meaning they are all natural and easier for your body to digest and process. Of course this doesn’t mean you should start dumping honey onto your morning yogurt, but it does mean that you should be able to enjoy these in moderation.
Should you buy organic sweeteners?
When you purchase any of these sweeteners, I highly recommend buying them organic. Not only is it better for you, it’s better for the environment. Look for an organic sticker or ask your grocer to point you to the organic section. I shop at Whole Foods frequently simply because it’s easier for me to find organic product and sweeteners. Organic means they are grown without pesticides or chemicals which means real, delicious good for you food. Try out an organic apple in the fall, and I promise you’ll notice the difference in both taste and appearance.
How was your weekend? Mine was full of good eats and lots of time with Tony; it was his last weekend back home before he heads out for spring training down in Arizona. I’m amazed at how fast the off season has gone. It feels like I just moved to Chicago, but I’m so happy that it feels like home.
Yesterday we spent the day with his family hanging out and watching LOTS of TV like Nascar (don’t ask) and the Oscars. I love parties because I’m always able to bake or cook a few things that I personally want to eat myself… oops.