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.
So I know, zucchini isn’t really in season in January; it’s more of a summer vegetable. However, I purchased a few last week before vacation because they were fairly inexpensive at the grocery store AND because I was planning on making stuffed zucchini. Well, of course things never go as planned and I never had the opportunity to use them up before I left.
Thankfully when I got back home they were still good, but needed to be used immediately. And um, what could be better than a muffin? Because of course, as you know I am the self-proclaimed muffin woman. Crown me! Kidding.
Do you guys have any city crushes? You know cities that you totally fall in love with from the moment you arrive. I have a few on my list including San Diego, Chicago and now… Kansas City!
I attended a conference in KC over the weekend and quickly developed a crush on the quaint little city that’s bursting with vegan bakeries, scrumptious food and beautiful parks. The fall foliage and sunny 70 degree weather made it even more loveable. I will do a recap soon of all of my bakery and restaurant visits along with more info on the conference fun.
Tony is here (Minnesota) visiting me before we head out to Chicago for a few weeks. He is going to help me look for apartments so that I can potentially make a move to the windy city! I’m beyond excited, but I really need to find a great spot with a nice kitchen, so fingers crossed.
Since I know that I’ll be gone from my kitchen for a few weeks, I need to get caught up on recipe development. That means that piles of cookies, ALL THE THINGS pumpkin and of course, lots of muffins.
Happy weekend. Did you know yesterday was cheese pizza day? I went on a four mile run then celebrated by literally inhaling almost an entire margherita pizza chased down by a spicy grapefruit margarita from Burch in Minneapolis. Oh and I can’t forget about the carrot cake either.
Yes, my friday nights are my eat whatever I want nights. And I do take full advantage of it.
Over the past three months, I’ve been on a real fruit obsession. Fruit smoothies, shakes, muffins and jams galore! If you remember, I even put blueberries in a cookie (OMG so good!).
One fruit I’m absolutely in love with are the organic braeburn apples from Trader Joe’s. They’re one of my favorite healthy snacks especially when dipped in peanut butter or vanilla greek yogurt. I feel so lucky when I find them because they have the sweetest flavor and best crunchy texture. Lord knows I’m already excited for apple season so I can bake up my famous apple crisp and warm up some hearts.
These pumpkin chocolate chip protein oat muffins are absolutely delicious! They’re made with a scoop of protein powder and greek yogurt to provide extra protein. Plus no refined sugars added and they’re gluten free!
Zucchini season is HERE because my Pinterest feed told me so. I even made a board devoted to all things zucchini (shameless plug so you can follow me!).
If you’re thinking that you would never put zucchini in a baked good, it’s time to get out of your comfort zone because these muffins are MIND-BLOWING and full of chocolate love with zero zucchini taste.
I love when vegetables can taste like chocolate, don’t you?
Cream cheese, raspberries and chocolate chips come together in this light and fluffy whole wheat muffin! Great for when you’re on the go or when you need a sweet healthy snack. Ready in under 30 mins!
I have been working out like a crazy person. This means I actually work up at 7am on Sunday to go to yoga sculpt. Please note that I’m definitely not a morning person. Total night owl. For example, I’m writing this post at midnight.
Regardless, working out makes me feel wonderful. With each workout, I’m gaining strength and confidence. In addition, I’m also really trying to clean up my diet and focus on high protein, whole foods. Have you ever noticed that after a week or two of eating healthier, your body actually starts to crave more nutritious foods? I have! Lately I can’t stop eating carrots and mustard, or fresh oranges and grapefruit. Smoothies, too! I have been making a smoothie every morning and night.
But, here’s the problem: I’m prone to depriving myself; it almost comes natural to me because of past habits during college. I’m not sure I’m ready to share those details with you all just yet but now that I’m a little bit older, I’ve realized that it’s all about balance and appreciating yourself, your body and soul, and enjoying those little treats and moments in life.
And you know what’s the perfect indulgence to me? A fluffy, warm chocolate chip muffin spread with crunchy almond butter. Of course, I just had to make them better for you…
There are so many reasons why these muffins are THE BEST and of course, I have to explain just about every single one of them.
Chocolate chips and raspberries: That combo is always a winner in my weirdo mind and this muffin is balanced just right with sweetness from the chocolate and a little tartness from the raspberries, but you can totally make it any combo you’d like!
Whipped Cream cheese: The whipped cream cheese is actually lighter in fat and calories so it replaces any butter that would normally be in a muffin recipe, yet still keeps these low in fat. Plus, you get a little smidgen of cream cheese flavor that makes you think you’re enjoying something much more indulgent.
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour: I love whole wheat pastry flour for it’s light and fluffy texture. If you don’t have it available, feel free to use regular whole wheat or white whole wheat.
Brown Sugar: I only used 1/3 cup of brown sugar in this recipe, but I’m confident you could reduce it to 1/4 cup with great results.
Healthy Chai-Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins with a lovely vanilla bean cream cheese glaze!
I spent last night catching up with one of my best friends; we don’t live near each other so it’s wonderful being able to chat for an hour or two. Unfortunately I haven’t seen her in almost a year, but I think a trip to Chicago for New Years is in the works now!
Speaking of Chicago, I’m actually headed there over Thanksgiving and couldn’t be more thrilled! Michgan Ave, high rises, shopping, incredible food, and that gorgeous water. For some reason that city speaks to my heart.
It just so happens that food also speaks to my heart (obviously). Lately, I can’t get enough pumpkin! Wait a sec. I can never have enough pumpkin. If you guys have been reading my blog, you know it’s just one of my serious obsessions. I’m even asking for pumpkin pie for my birthday this year! Weird, I know… but what else can you expect from me?
I’ve been hoarding these muffins for a good month! Shame on me. I’m sorry to do that to you.
To be honest, I couldn’t even remember what they tasted like so I convinced myself to test the recipe once more before posting; I will never forgot these again. The muffins were superb, full of pumpkin and chai flavors, and incredibly moist. Seriously probably my favorite muffin ever. EVER you guys!
Yesterday my Mom and I went on a lovely 20 mile bike ride through gorgeous Minnesota trails. I loved riding outdoors again; it had been too long! Of course now my legs are killing me, but I suppose that’s a good thing.
It occurred to me that I get incredibly hungry both during and after my rides, and so it’s probably a good idea to pack healthy snacks with me to provide me with extra energy. Granola bars are great and all but come on, who doesn’t love a lovely little muffin to snack on?! Obviously I’m a MUFFIN LOVER FOR LIFE and today I’m sharing my favorite muffin recipes from my blog.
All of these muffins have a few things in common: they’re healthy, focus on clean ingredients, and are all under 200 calories! They really are the perfect breakfast or snack — plus they’re freezer friendly, too! It’s great to have grab ‘n go breakfasts just in case you wake up late, or even for a kid’s lunchbox treat! Just pop them in the microwave for about a minute and you’re good to go!
Ahhhhh I live for the weekends, and this last one was just so lovely and relaxing. I mean who doesn’t love laying in bed an extra half hour on Saturday mornings? These days, it’s a luxury.
That being said, I’m starting to realize that I can no longer be sleep deprived, over-caffeinate myself, and still function like a normal human being. My habits of staying up until 1AM on the weekdays are starting to wear on me. Also, I should make a note to stop checking my email at 3AM. Clearly I have no idea what the term ‘unplugged’ means.
Oh well. On to more exciting things…
On Saturday I found 10 bananas in a brown paper bag that I had purchased eariler in the week. Thank goodness because I was in a baking mood! MUFFINS, BREADS, COOKIES… I can’t stop.
Bananas are my absolute favorite! They pack potassium and digestible (good-for-you) carbs. So, what does this mean? Well, they give your body fuel and pretty much make you feel like a rock star. But not the kind of rock stars that do drugs.
In all seriousness, I love baking with bananas because they add moisture, act as a binder, and have enough flavor where you don’t need to add additional sugar.