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.
Uhhh hey Monday. Life is getting the best of me these days. But it’s CINCO DE MAYO tomorrow so I think we’re all in dire need of a few margaritas and some feel good Mexican-inspired food, don’t you think?
Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain, but I’m dying to meet one of my best girlfriends for drinks and some authentic mexican food here in Chicago. You’d be surprised by how many good places there are and I’m in desperate need to get out there and do some more exploring of my favorite cuisine. If you have any recommendations, I’d greatly appreciate them.
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.
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.
A delicious smoothie made with wild blueberries, banana, almond milk and spinach for a nutritional boost. Finished with a sprinkle of chia seeds for a healthy dose of omega-3.
Hello. Let me proceed to tell you about how weird I am.
Last night I had this out of control craving for broccoli after my workout. Just steamed broccoli with sea salt and pepper. Quite ridiculous really, but I absolutely had to have it. So off to Target I went. Except you know when you walk into Target, it’s not like you’re walking right out. Nope, you’re going to be there for at least an hour filling your cart with things you never knew you needed. Classic example: Vanilla Cupcake Goldfish. They basically taste like sweetened little animal cracker cookies. And if you’ve been here a while, you know how I LOVE animal crackers (especially frosted). Oh and also, coconut milk conditioner. YUM.
I finally managed to leave Target with two bags full. By the time I got home I WAS STARVING. Do you ever get to the point where you’re so hungry that you can’t even think? I thought about breaking open a jar of peanut butter in my car on the ride home, but knew that wouldn’t lead to anything good.
Once home, I basically destroyed an entire bag of steamed broccoli for dinner. Obviously that filled me up, but only for one episode of The Vampire Diaries, so of course I had to make something else. Since I’ve been really trying to clean up my diet (minus the goldfish), I opted for one of my favorite power smoothies.
Lately I’ve been really into blueberries in just about anything. WILD blueberries to be exact. I like the name and I like the flavor. In fact I kinda feel like Tarzan after eating them.
Really though, they’re SO much better then the conventional ones. I usually purchase mine from Trader Joe’s, but if you can’t find them there, opt for organic blueberries. I promise you’ll notice the flavor difference.
Mother’s day is right around the corner. Each and every day I thank God how lucky I am to have a Mother who is kind, selfless, caring, and encouraging.
My mom lifts me up when I’m down, encourages me to always be the best person I can be, and absolutely loves me unconditionally. After my father passed away several years ago, my mom and I became inseparable. I’ve learned to keep the people you love close, let the little things go, and be appreciative of what you have.
Giving back to Mothers is such a hard thing to do. How can you give someone something who has given you everything? You really can’t. But making her pancakes is pretty close. They’re made with love after all.
These pancakes are incredibly fluffy, moist, and absolutely melt in your mouth. And there’s actually TWO secret ingredients that keep them light, fluffy and tender:
Buttermilk: The tang and richness it brings to baked goods is undeniable. I promise you’ll notice the difference. It’s slightly acidic and so when mixed with baking powder, it will allow the pancakes to rise and keep them from breaking down. The result is a tender fluffy pancake that will leave you speechless – promise.
Greek Yogurt: Adding greek yogurt to pancakes makes them the holy grail of breakfasts, I swear. It helps to thicken up the batter, but still leaves you with the lightest pancake. Pretty magical.
An incredibly moist Carrot Cake Banana Bread made healthy with whole wheat flour and applesauce instead of lots of butter or oil. Don’t forget the low-fat cream cheese frosting — it’s to die for!
I never really enjoyed carrot cake until about a year ago.
It started when I was living in Los Angeles; there was an incredible cupcake shop in Manhattan Beach that I used to stop in after a beach walk in the evenings. They sold a variety of mini cupcakes and for some reason I decided to try their carrot cake version. After one bite, I was in heaven. Now I’m on some sort of quest to find the best carrot cake out there. Any suggestions?
When it comes to cake, the only thing that can compete with carrot is my Dad’s yellow cake with chocolate buttercream – and that one is pretty hard to master. I’m still working on the recipe after 7 years. Maybe one day.
There’s one thing I don’t like about carrot cake: all of those calories. And I’m already going to be eating everything else in my face during Easter, including at least three of those Reese’s Eggs and probably way too much wine. Yes, I try to make every holiday as awesome as Thanksgiving.
Anyway as I was preparing to head to the grocery store staring at overly ripe bananas on the counter, an interesting thought came to me. What if I combined the two? You know, my love for carrot cake + banana bread. Could this be a thing?
Sometimes all you need in life is a little cake. Am I right?
If I could bake layered cakes all the time, I would. It tends to be pretty time consuming so I like to save it for special occasions, such as birthdays or holidays. Even though this cake took me a few hours to bake up and frost, it was completely worth it.
I baked this with Easter in mind. Sometimes it’s fun to go outside the tradition of carrot cake and bake something to surprise everyone. Just imagine pulling this out and setting it on the table. Minds will be blown. Like did you just make a triple layered cake? Wait it tastes like a fluffy banana bread. Oh and there’s chocolate in there? Wait and a frosting that tastes like the inside of a peanut butter cup?
An incredibly fudgy & delicious 100 calorie brownie sprinkled with chocolate chips and raspberries — you’d never guess that these are made with protein powder! Easily vegan and gluten-free, too.
I swear that if I didn’t have a healthy food blog, it would be just straight buttery treats in your face at all times. I’m talking crazy ass desserts that would blow your mind. For instance, during my last family holiday I made a Nutella S’mores Pie with a Toasted Marshmallow Meringue and a chocolate nutella crust. Wait, what?
I know, scaryyyyyy. But OMG, was it ridiculously good. Also probably the richest thing I’ve ever had in my life.
Anyway you all know I have a weak spot for sweets, but that I also believe in balance, moderation, and healthy living. That’s why I’m here to create healthy, unique desserts that you’ll fall in love with.
Today I want to introduce you to my newest invention: The Protein Brownie. Can you believe that 1 brownie is only 100 calories?!
I created this brownie with my diet in mind. I’ve been drinking protein shakes with fruit every single morning so I’ve gotten real obsessed with protein powder. I guess you could say my diet has fallen under the Paleo category. Just don’t expect me to start baking with almond flour (or maybe I will, ha).
This whole protein obsession made me incredibly curious about baking with protein powder. I wanted to invent a brownie that could be enjoyed as a treat instead dipping a spoon into a jar of almond butter every night. My goal was to create a chocolate brownie relatively low in carbs, low in sugar, and high in protein; I also wanted it to taste really good
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.