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.
On Saturday I met up with Tony’s family and attended his Grandmother’s 95th birthday party. You guys, she’s amazing! She still lives on her own, cooks for herself and is in great health. Over the past year, I’ve gotten fairly close with her; probably because I bring her all the treats I make and she just so happens to love cookies as much as I do. This makes me happy, of course. I actually baked the nutella-stuffed chocolate chip beauties for her party; it always blows my mind how much people truly love those cookies.
Remember when I mentioned that I was going to try be a little bit healthier when it came to food choices? Well I’ve been pretty dedicated… so far anyway. Eating better and enjoying more refined sugar sweets made with wholesome ingredients has made me feel incredible, lighter and maybe a little bit leaner. Isn’t it funny how even the smallest changes in your food choices can make a BIG difference? I think so.
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.
Healthy muffins! That taste like carrot cake! Oh, I think this might just be a dream come true.
Truth be told, carrot cake gets me every single time. I fell in love with it a few years ago and my craving for cake has quadrupled since then. I can’t get over the spices, flavor, and that thick-n-creamy cream cheese frosting that pairs so wonderfully with the cake. I’m not sure it gets better.
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.