Mar
02

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.

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Jan
08

So I’m doing a juice & food cleanse right now. I’m SUPER excited about it because as you may already know I freakin’ love doing them. It’s not that I think they’re great in the moment, it’s just that I really love how I feel afterwards. The benefits? How clear my skin looks, how much great sleep I get and how differently I end up thinking about food.

I’ll have updates for you on the cleanse soon; in the meantime I’ve been staring at these bars on the counter all of yesterday. I made them last week for Tony because he’s all like I need to get in shape for baseball season — this is as he continues to eat chocolate covered doughnuts for breakfast. I think he could eat just about anything and still look good. No joke.

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Nov
15

Hello you lovely souls. I’m sitting in a beautiful, cozy king bed writing to you from Hilton Head Health, a fitness and wellness resort in Hilton Head, SC. This past week has been so refreshing for me in more ways than I can fathom to write about. Sometimes you just can’t put into words what you feel when your heart is steady and content.  I feel beyond lucky to be invited here; the inspiration in wellness classes, new friends and being a little more vulnerable has left me with a realization that I must let go of my fears of judgement when it comes to blogging and being more personal.

My goodness can you believe AK has been cooking for a little over 3 years? I’ve written here about my life experiences, career changes, moving, relationships, friendships and my ever growing obsession with Zac Efron.

What I haven’t included is my real and constant battle with food; certainly it is the love of my life (questionable due to Tony).  I don’t want this post to become too heavy, but do want you to know that this blog will change and grow, just as any human being does. And as any relationship goes, I hope we’re in this together; that you’ll still come to AK to make my recipes because they certainly are not going away. I’ll just be writing more about this journey I’m on.

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Nov
02

Last Thanksgiving I was in charge of making gravy, salad and pie. Heck, if I could make the entire Thanksgiving spread I totally would. As exhausting and overwhelming as it would be, I feel as though bringing everyone together though food I made would be completely worth it. In fact, one of my favorite parts about being a cook and baker is seeing the reaction of people’s faces once they taste a dish I’ve made. Cooking for others always feels like it’s my way of letting them know that I truly care and appreciate them; there’s just something magical about it. In a sense, it’s actual gift giving; cooking and baking require thought, love and time.

I have no doubt that some of you feel the same, especially those of you who LOVE to bake.

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May
21

Double Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Oat Bars — easy to make and healthy enough to enjoy for breakfast! Ready in less than 25 minutes.

Healthy Chocolate Oatmeal Brownies

I just got back from a trip to Miami and North Carolina where I ate copious amounts of food and baked way too many cookies for Tony.

I’ll admit that I’m eager to get back into my workout and normal eating routine. Do you ever crave consistency after being away from home for a while? I know I do. My friend (and fellow blogger) Maegan and I ate nearly every sweet treat we could find in Miami; from coconut cake shakes (OMG) and coconut pecan chocolate chip cookies to crunchy brownie brittle and 2AM insomnia cookies. Hey, you only live once and you better do it right if you’re in Miami!

Every time I attend a food conference or travel in general, I know I’m going to be eating way too much so I pack my workout DVDs. This time I decided to bring my dumbbells. FYI: TSA doesn’t like when you bring dumbbells onto planes because they are considered ‘club like’. Oops. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do though, right?

I’m never embarrassed to whip out my weights and take a work out break when everyone else is out and about. I know what’s important to me and my well-being. I also pack bento lunch boxes for the plane when I’m traveling; this helps me to make sure I’m eating healthy since it can be difficult to find decent airport food.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread Oat BarsSpeaking of food and traveling, my next adventure will be to New Mexico over Memorial Day weekend. I’ll be visiting my adorable Grandparents who probably love food more than me. Gloria (my grandma) makes about four homemade scratch recipes per day. Seriously have you made her buttermilk waffles yet? Incredible.

I’m actually a little terrified as I have a feeling she’s going to to be 10x more eager to bake with me. We’re kind of two peas in a pod in that way though; always trying to come up with new ideas. I suppose it’s a good thing that I’ve already packed several Jillian Michael’s DVDs and of course, there’s ZUMBA. She’s kind of obsessed with it.

Healthy Double Chocolate Banana Bread Oat Bars - vegan & gluten free

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Apr
11

Healthy vegan avocado brownies made with black beans instead of flour, and avocado instead of butter or oil! You’re going to love these fudgy chocolate-packed vegan and gluten free treats.

Healthy Flourless Black Bean Avocado Brownies

Things are getting weird. I mean I’m putting avocados in baked desserts again. But don’t judge just yet. I can assure you that after you taste them, you’ll know I’m actually not insane for doing so.

You guys. I swear that all I’ve wanted to do was blog all week to give you this recipe, but it’s taken me forever to sit down write and edit with everything else going on. Perhaps I forgot to mention that Ambitious Kitchen is going through a MAJOR redesign? I seriously cannot wait. I’ve hired a few designers over the past year or so, but have always felt like it wasn’t the right time or that it wasn’t my vision.

This time I’m working with two wonderful girls who actually have food blogs themselves so they are really able to think strategically about branding, design elements and techy stuff that I don’t get. Soon enough the new site will be revealed to all of you!

Healthy Flourless Black Bean Avocado Brownies

Besides site stuff, preparing for Easter has been crazy. It’s such a busy time with the brands I work on (outside of this blog), so I’ve been a little consumed with planning. Today I even helped food style on a video shoot which is always a fun experience! I’ve done a few and I really enjoy bringing them to life through an editorial lens. It’s also a great way for me to get outside the office and into a new creative environment.

After the shoot was over today, I came home and ran 4 miles around a lake near my apartment. It’s finally getting nice out so I’m trying to take advantage of being in the sunshine pretty much every single moment I can. GIVE ME THE VITAMIN D. Every single drop please!

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Mar
31

Chewy protein-packed granola bars made with almond butter, protein powder, dark chocolate and cherries! These gluten-free and vegan-friendly bars are the perfect snack or breakfast.
Chewy Dark Chocolate Cherry Protein Granola Bars with Chia Seeds

Did I tell you that Sundays are a big day for me? Usually I wake up, hit the gym, then head straight to the grocery store. After that I go home and cook until my kitchen is trashed and I can’t possibly dirty another dish. It’s kind of my little ritual.

Of course Sundays are also big because I’m determined to start the week out on a good note. To me, being healthy is a big part of this. I forget the incredibly delicious carrot cake cupcake I ate last week when I was stressed and remind myself that this week is brand new and full of healthy opportunities.

To encourage healthy eating, I chop up celery, cucumbers and carrots for nibbling during the day, but sometimes I need something a little more satisfying. So I decided to make ridiculously good granola bars. With protein powder to keep me full.

Chewy Dark Chocolate Cherry Protein Granola Bars with Chia Seeds

I made these last week and was slightly obsessed. So obsessed that I had to give them away to a friend because they I kept finding myself eating more and more out of the pan. I think the whole dark chocolate + cherry + chia seed combo really spoke to me.

I’m actually a huge fan of several brands of protein and/or granola bars. The chewy ones, the nutty ones, the extra crunchy ones. Heck, just give me ALL THE BARS.

Chewy Dark Chocolate Cherry Protein Granola Bars with Chia Seeds

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