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’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.
Are Christmas cookies taking over your life? They aren’t for me just yet but I’m right around the corner from a MEGA bake-a-thon and quite honestly, I’m a little frightened by how many I may consume. You know the peanut butter blossoms? MY FAVVVVV. So classic, so peanut-buttery… just give me a few and a big glass of chocolate almond milk. Or hot chocolate with whipped cream. Why must the holiday season be so tempting?
Of course, I’ve really been trying to not go overboard with the sweets. I think I say that almost every Christmas; certainly this year will be better (I hope!).
It’s that time of year where I’m starting to crave hearty, warm meals like chili, sloppy joes, lasagna and of course a good meatloaf. You too, huh?
Since the days are becoming cooler, I thought that I would share my absolute favorite recipe for meatloaf. And guess what you guys? It’s vegan and gluten free! That’s right; lentils replace meat in this lip-smacking super good meatloaf drenched in some complete awesome sauce. You won’t believe how healthy this is either. The nutrition is rockin!
I spent the weekend in solitude. And honestly, it was so refreshing. I cleaned out my closet, worked out, bought new running shoes, worked on blogging techy stuff, and made a few recipes. I also watched an episode of The Leftovers, a new show on HBO. I’m kinda put off by it, but also a little intrigued. Have you seen it?
In other news, I’m a little annoyed with myself for not sharing this strawberry protein shake recipe sooner, but here it is now! I promise that you are going to love it.
From around noon until 6pm on Saturday and Sunday, I was in my kitchen testing out new recipes. It’s actually my little weekend ritual. I jam out to music, dance around, get creative, trash the kitchen, and make my entire apartment smell like fresh baked goodies.
Double Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Oat Bars — easy to make and healthy enough to enjoy for breakfast! Ready in less than 25 minutes.
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.
Speaking 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.
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.
I’ve been getting back into vinyassa yoga lately. Most of the time I do yoga sculpt classes with weights, but recently I’ve needed some deep stretching and some major stress relief. The mind-body connection that yoga brings me is often times my favorite part of the class; I’m more self-aware, compassionate, and thoughtful with each class. I’ve also noticed that my anxiety diminishes.
The other day my instructor was talking about how you have to be brave in order to become your true self. How you have to go beyond what you think you’re capable of if you want to make something happen. Take a chance on something or someone.
Little conversations like those push me to be better. I’m happy to have the ability to to make choices, change my future and create opportunities that I would have never thought possible. Thus on my journey to having a clear mind with less stress, I’m also focusing on having a healthy body. Eating clean, preparing my meals, and taking care of myself is so important.
This past weekend I made a big batch of this summery salad (with fall flavors?) My mom came over to help taste test, and she absolutely loved it. We enjoyed it cold served with some greek yogurt.
This salad was inspired by my favorite little meal at Whole Foods made with couscous. Every time I’m there I search for it.
Homemade pecan nut butter sweetened with a tiny bit of maple syrup, vanilla, and spiced with cinnamon. This sweet and salty combo will be your new favorite to spread on toast.
Do you love pecan pie? How about toasty, nutty pecans on top of coffee cake? Or those cinnamon-sugar pecans around Christmas time? Mmmm absolutely yes.
A few days ago, I was strolling around Trader Joe’s checking out all of the new products when I noticed that there really weren’t that many nut butters besides almond and peanut. And I hate to break it to you, but cookie butter doesn’t count.
Anyway now I feel like I’m on some sort of quest. I MUST MAKE ALL THE NUT BUTTERS. Or at least a few. Anything I can smear on toast or spread all over my pancakes is a must.
Pecans happen to be my new favorite nut, so I opted to create pecan butter that taste like the flavors of fall in a jar.
Healthy 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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.