Jul
11

Live deliciously. Fight for the things you want the most. Take risks. Dream big. Wear red lipstick and heels every chance you get. Go on lots of first dates, but few second ones. Be weird. Drink too many margaritas every once in a while. Laugh until you get a 6-pack. Be yourself. Be unforgettable. Live in a big city. Exercise. Learn how to roast a chicken. Get to know your grandparents. Don’t be a slave to the ordinary. Bungee jump. Go on a vacation. Kiss a stranger.

How do we accomplish it all? Start with a healthy breakfast full of whole grains.

Sooooo remember when I was obsessed with making pies? And eating them?

I thought it would be better for my waistline if I stopped rolling out pie crust and started eating things like rainbow salads, better-for-you muffins, and loads of things made with quinoa. I don’t know if it’s the cuteness of this little nutty grain, or my general obsession for the taste, but quinoa is now featured in 72% of my weekly meals (not like I actually calculated or anything). It’s like when I was 18 and had this crazy obsession with Panera Bread’s veggie sandwich; I had it nearly every day for a month. That was weird.

However, I’m confident my love for quinoa isn’t just a phase I’m going through. It’s kind of like a real marriage. True dedication. I mean, blueberry quinoa pancakes and enchilada quinoa stuffed bell peppers… and now this breakfast quinoa? It’s time to step outside of the boxed mac & (neon) cheese or those Lean Cuisines that never fill you up.

Let’s make our lives a little more delicious.

Now my eating isn’t perfect, but I’ve realized that whole, clean foods in my diet make me happier and healthier. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and packed with protein which means it keeps me full for hours. But that isn’t the only reason I love it for breakfast: it only takes about 15 minutes to prepare and can be stored in the fridge for reheating throughout the week. Sometimes I throw it in individual portioned containers with different add-ins or flavor combinations and zap in the microwave when I’m in a rush. It’s incredibly convenient and easy!

Intimidated by quinoa? Don’t be afraid to try out new foods just because they’re unfamiliar. I came across some great tips on making your quinoa fluffy from Kathy that I’ve consistently followed; I always end up with a bowl of perfect fluffy quinoa to fill my belly.

So how do you cook quinoa?

First start with a 1:2 ratio–one part quinoa, two parts water. It’s important to rinse your quinoa to prevent a bitter taste. Place water and rinsed quinoa in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over high heat. (At this point I usually add in my spices or vanilla). Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand another 5-10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, add in fruit, nuts, milk, whatever your heart desires and serve!

I wanted to make my breakfast quinoa vegan so once I was done cooking it, I poured in a cup of coconut milk, added sliced bananas (which I actually grilled a bit), strawberries, toasted almonds and pecans, and sprinkled a bit unsweetened toasted coconut on top.

Of course, there are endless combinations to try with your breakfast quinoa including different berries, milks, nut butters, honey, and nuts. It’s just a feel good breakfast.

Nutty Strawberry Banana Breakfast Quinoa {Vegan & Gluten-Free}
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Strawberries, bananas, toasted nuts and are adding to a delicious gluten free and vegan breakfast quinoa.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups milk of your choice (to make vegan use coconut or almond milk), divided
  • 1 small banana, sliced
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, diced
  • 2 tablespoons sliced toasted almonds
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened toasted coconut
Instructions
  1. Place water and rinsed quinoa in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over high heat. Add cinnamon and vanilla and reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand another 5-10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork.
  2. Divide into two bowls, adding 3/4 cup of milk. Top each bowl with bananas, strawberries, toasted nuts, and unsweetened coconut. Serve immediately.
Notes
Optional add-ins: honey, agave nectar, peanut or almond butter, berry variety, mango, pineapple, apples, applesauce or toasted nuts If you'd like you can double the recipe and store the extra quinoa (without milk and toppings) in a container and place in fridge. Take out portions during the week, reheat, and add toppings.

Jul
08

I get really intense cravings.

Usually for peanut butter. Sometimes for a big banana milkshake. Always for a slice of pumpkin pie. But today, I wanted sweet potato fries more than anything else in the world… with a little somethin’ special: homemade honey mustard dipping sauce.

If you’re wondering what the combination of the two is like, it’s quite difficult to say. I mean, how do you explain magic when it happens?

Honeymustardoholic: Not a word, but probably will be soon. This stuff is addictive.

With only three ingredients this honey mustard is incredibly easy to throw together. All you need is low-fat mayo, honey, and dijon mustard. Whip the three together in a small bowl, then be prepared to make more. Why? Because you will be putting it on everything.

It’s unusually versatile: Slather it on a slice of bread and top with turkey, dunk your kids chicken nuggets in it (eating them yourself, obviously), dip some veggies in it (you’re so healthy!), or just do like I do and eat it by the spoonful (I like you).

Oh and now you want to know about these crispy, LOW-FAT sweet potato fries?

I’ve been making my own fries for a couple of years now, so I’ve experimented with several different methods. Here are five tips that I’d like to pass along to ensure a crispy, delicious baked sweet potato fry.

  1. Cut them thick. Cutting your fries into large slices about 1/2-3/4 inch thick will ensure a nice sweet interior that doesn’t dry up when baking.
  2. Use cornstarch to keep them crispy. Sweet potatoes are made up of a higher percentage of water compared to regular potatoes which causes them to sometimes get soggy when baked. Coating the fries with a little bit of cornstarch prevents this, as the cornstarch will form a crust on the outside of the fry. I got the corn starch idea from The Art of Doing Stuff. I’ve also thought about using flour, but I’m not sure it would have the same effect.
  3. Drizzle them with a little olive oil. We’re not fry baking them, so a lot of olive oil isn’t necessary. Usually 1 or 2 tablespoons is sufficient enough to crisp them up and add flavor.
  4. Give them room to breathe. Don’t allow your fries to touch on your baking sheet. You want the air to circulate around them so that they will bake and crisp evenly. You can use two baking sheets if you are making a lot of fries; be sure to rotate the sheet halfway through baking time.
  5. Turn them halfway through. We want crispy fries on all sides, not just one.
Hmm… what else could you possibly need to know about these?

Oh yeah, how about how to flavor them?

My favorite way is with a little bit of cinnamon and sea salt, but it’s up to you! If you like your sweet potato fries spicy, try adding cayenne pepper. Another great option is cumin and garlic powder for a little bit of mexican pizazz. I know a lot of people who prefer paprika as their seasoning of choice too. It’s fun experimenting with different flavors.

I love to make a giant batch of these because I never feel guilty about eating them. They are low in fat, and just so happen to be packed with vitamins and minerals! Technically sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat; they’re full of vitamin A, C, and E, plus fiber, potassium and beta carotene. They’re also a complex carbohydrate which means that they take longer for your body to break down, keeping you fuller, longer.  Read more about sweet potatoes and their nutritional value here.

The daily health information session is now over. Let’s get back to drooling.

Crispy, golden orange, salty-sweet, incredible, plus one million other delicious adjectives.

My goodness I love these fries… and I think you should make them.

But don’t you dare forget that dipping sauce!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Homemade Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Serves 2-4

For the fries

Cooking spray

2-4 large sweet potatoes, peeled if desired

1-2 tablespoons of corn starch

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

1/2 tablespoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (if desired) or your own spice combination

 

For the honey mustard dipping sauce

1/4 cup low-fat mayo (can also use fat-free or olive oil based)

1/4 cup dijon mustard (whole grain dijon is good too)

2 tablespoons honey

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.
  2. Cut your sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut the sweet potatoes evenly into even fry shapes and place into a large bowl.
  3. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch over the uncooked fries and use your hands to gently toss sweet potatoes and corn starch together to lightly coat the sweet potatoes. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the fries and toss with your hands, adding more if you feel the fries are not LIGHTLY coated. Sprinkle whatever spices you’d like onto the fries (I use sea salt and cinnamon) and gently toss again.
  4. Spread sweet potatoes evenly on your baking sheet(s), making sure that they aren’t touching each other. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip fries with a spatula, and bake for 10-15 minutes more or until the fries are golden brown and crispy. Do not overbake or they will burn. A little caramelization on the edges of the fries is good, but we don’t want black fries.
  5. To make the homemade honey mustard combine mayo and dijon mustard in a small bowl and mix until well combined and creamy. Slowly add in the honey and stir again until combined. Keep in refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

Notes

  • Preheating your baking sheet will also result in a crisper fry, but sometimes my fries cook quicker so just be aware of the timing.
  • I do not recommend using aluminum foil, as every time I do my fries come out soggy.
  • If you are making a smaller batch of fries, or if you cut them thinner, I recommend flipping them after 10 minutes and only baking for a total of 20 minutes.
  • Try my other five favorite dipping sauces for variety

Jul
05

I hope you had a great 4th of July with your friends and family!

I did! Summer cocktails were flowing, potato salad was piled high, burgers were chowed on, cheese and crackers were consumed, and the cake was gone; it was a day full of endless eating. In fact, I caught myself mindless munching all day. And now that my mind realizes what went down, I’m upset about it. Summer BBQs win again!

I know just what I need: some seriously good-for-you, juicing smoothie vegan stuff. With spinach, or kale… Or I don’t know… JUST GIVE ME ANYTHING BUT CHIPS AND CAKE!

Are you feeling the same way? Please say yes.

I’m a HUGE fan of protein shakes. I drink one at least once a day. And no, I do not have muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger, thank you very much. They’re a delicious snack that fills me up and usually keeps me from reaching for Nutter Butters and chips at 3pm.

Now I definitely can’t claim to be a health or nutrition expert, but I do know how to prepare healthy snacks and meals. And since so many of you are interested in eating healthy, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the types of foods I normally eat and give you ideas for some healthy breakfast recipes that can be easily prepared at home.

So what do I normally eat? Usually clean, unprocessed whole foods, including whole grains, lean meats, fish, some dairy, healthy fats, and fresh fruits and vegetables. This means cooking at home, preparing meals ahead of time, and resisting the urge to bake cookies and drink margs. And let me tell you, THAT is super difficult sometimes.

BUT with all of these delicious options below (and in my recipe index), I think you’ll have enough recipes to start your morning off healthy and delicious.

HEALTHY BREAKFAST IDEAS

  • Whole Wheat Banana Quinoa Pancakes — these are one of my favorites especially topped with natural peanut butter! Make a batch, pop the leftovers in the freezer, then during the week simply take out two, reheat in the microwave and enjoy! Throw in blueberries in the batter or chocolate chips if you’d like. They are pancakes made easy.

  • Eggs — I eat eggs at least once a day for either breakfast or dinner. Sometimes I make egg sandwiches like the one in the picture above. Usually though I’ll whip up an omelet using 1 egg and 3 egg whites; I also like to mix up my fillings. Here are some suggestions of what you can stuff or top your eggs with: smoked salmon, goat cheese, asparagus, green chile, avocado or guacamole, black beans, low-fat cheese, tomatoes, onion, etc. For more great, easy egg recipes head over to Fitness Magazine’s site. I’ll also be posting a how-to make your own omelet sometime soon!
  • Things you can put on whole grain toast or english muffins: mashed avocado, hardboiled eggs, low sugar jam and natural nut butter, whipped low-fat cream cheese and smashed raspberries, non-fat greek yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese sprinkled with toasted almonds and drizzled with honey, bananas and peanut butter.

And what about this protein shake?

Well, this shake packs flavor in a glass. Bananas and blueberries are a great combination together. It will fill you up and takes less than 5 minutes to make.

You really have no excuses to miss breakfast with this delicious little thing staring at you.

My hope is that some of these ideas and recipes will inspire you to get in your kitchen, eat breakfast, and be a little healthier. We all know breakfast is easy to skip, but it’s also the most important meal of the day.

Let me know what your favorite healthy breakfast is in the comments below!

 

Banana Blueberry Protein Shakes

2 cups milk of choice (skim, almond, coconut, soy)

2 scoops of vanilla protein powder (I use whey protein)

1 cup of fresh blueberries

1 large ripe banana, peeled and cut into chunks (best if the banana is frozen)

3/4 cup of ice cubes

 

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into chilled glasses and enjoy.

 

Notes

  • Feel free to add any of the following: 1 cup of spinach for a green smoothie, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, flax seed, chia seed, etc.
  • You can also use different berries or a mixture of fruit instead of blueberries

 


Jul
01

Things I’ve learned in the past year:

1. Follow your heart. It’s the best thing you can do in life. You live once, so enjoy your life as it unfolds.

2. Embrace change. When we change, we grow and adapt. We become better. Don’t do something just because it’s comfortable. Instead, challenge yourself and learn from your failures.

3. Take chances. I moved across the country for a job and realized it wasn’t for me. I looked at what I wanted, and what I didn’t, then made a decision to pursue a different career. Without moving, I wouldn’t have figured that out. Taking chances means succeeding or learning something you didn’t before. And sometimes, it’s okay to fail.

4. Work hard. Damn hard. Success never comes easy. Dreams rarely turn into realities overnight. It’s an uphill climb full of doubts, but with enough determination, I believe anything is possible.

5. Baking cake is essential. No wait, THIS cake is essential. It has bananas, peanut butter and has a caramel topping to die for. It’s the stuff dreams are made of… or something like that anyway.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes a love a little reflection. Today we’ll reflect over this cake together. Join me?

Today, I slept in for the first time in what seems like forever. For brunch, I made vegan chocolate chip oatmeal cookie pancakes that I found on Pinterest. I’m so thankful I did because I had a smile on my face for the next 7 hours. What? Pancakes make me happy.

There’s one thing I’m more excited for this week: the 4th of July! It’s probably one of my favorite holidays. Laying under the sun all day and watching fireworks at night is simply the best.

And of course instead of giving you a standard with red, white, and blue dessert for the 4th of July, I thought that maybe you’d like to indulge in this cake instead.

While rummaging through recipes, I found a recipe for a Caramel-Walnut Upside Down Banana Cake in my Bon Appetit Desserts! book (a great dessert cookbook). I adapted it by adding peanut butter instead of more butter, and reducing the sugar (ripe bananas provide natural sweetness). Don’t let that fool you though, his cake is still ridiculously indulgent.

The caramel sauce is completely delicious, gooey, and warm when the cake comes out of the oven; I recommend serving the cake as soon as you are able to flip and cut into it. I thought about pairing it with a salted caramel ice cream, but they were out at the store so if you try it, let me know.

Please note that the caramel sauce tends to harden a bit once the cake it cooled, so don’t be afraid to warm up a slice in the microwave! You can even make the cake with out the caramel-walnut topping if your heart desires.

This is a cake that changes non-cake lovers into die hard fans. It can also be the cake you bring to your boyfriend’s mom. You could even bring this cake to every family gathering you ever have, they won’t mind.

It will deliver every single time.

My advice? Don’t think about the calories. Indulging every once in a while actually keeps you on track. And your taste buds will thank me later. I promise.

Come on you know you want to.

 

 

Caramel-Walnut Upside-Down Peanut Butter Banana Cake

Topping

Cooking spray

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons dark corn syrup

1/3 cup walnut halves or pieces

 

Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter (4 tablespoons), room temperature

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup very ripe mashed bananas (about 2-3 large bananas)

1/2 cup all-natural creamy peanut butter

3 tablespoons plain greek yogurt or sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup skim milk

 

Directions

  1. For topping: Spray 9-inch round cake pan (or larger cake pan) with nonstick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan; add dark corn syrup and brown sugar; bring to a boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and immediately stir in walnuts. Spread topping in cake pan.
  2. For cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until creamy. Next, add eggs 1 at a time; beating again until mixture is smooth and creamy. Add mashed bananas, peanut butter, yogurt (or sour cream), milk and vanilla; mixing again until well combined. Add in dry ingredients slowly until just combined. Add batter to cake pan.
  3. Bake cake until knife into center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool at least 15 minutes. To remove cake, gently cut around cake with a knife to loosen. Place plate or platter over pan. Holding pan and platter together, turn over, and remove pan. Scrape any extra caramel and walnuts on top of cake. Cool at least 15 minutes for topping to set. Serve warm with your favorite ice cream.

Notes

  • Adapted from Bon Appetit’s Desserts! Cookbook
  • Your baking time may be slightly longer. The original recipe called for 55 minutes of baking time, yet I found I only needed about 45
  • Make sure to place a baking sheet on the bottom rack of your oven; the caramel sauce may boil over the edges of your cake pan
  • This cake serves 6-8 people and is best served warm

 


Jun
28

June is nearly over, but Summer is just getting started.

I’m excited! The 4th of July is next week and I can’t wait to celebrate. Usually it’s full of cinnamon rolls, grilling turkeys (seriously), watching fireworks, and making an absurd amount of patriotic cakes and jello shots. I wasn’t planning on posting a red, white, and blue themed recipe, but who knows perhaps you can persuade me.

Now quite frankly it’s been a busy month for me. I was jetting around the country. BUT I still found some fun things I want to share with you. Let’s start with this cookbook.

Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook is a lovely baking cookbook based on a real life bakery in Savannah, Georgia. Their motto is simple, “Slow Down and Taste the Sweet Life”. I couldn’t agree more! The book is full of simple yet creative baking recipes that make you want to immediately jump in your kitchen and get out the flour, butter, and sugar.

Through reading this cookbook and sampling the recipes, I realized that the owners Cheryl and Griffith are extremely passionate about sharing their love for baking and food with others. Their recipes come straight from the heart and you’ll find yourself pulling out this book to bake every chance you get. I highly recommend it!

Now look at these gorgeous cakes I found while standing in line to order at Alcove, a cafe in Los Angeles. The brunch was superb and worth the huge line and wait. I got the power breakfast, so nothing crazy but I had a bite of a friend’s chicken sausage and goat cheese omelette–just amazing.

Unfortunately I didn’t take a cake home with me. Which only means I have to go back again soon!

For Father’s Day I made my famous brown butter & sea salt chocolate chip cookies. Not for my Dad, but for a friend’s Father’s Day BBQ. Seriously have you guys tried them yet? They are sweet, salty, and perfect over cold ice cream. I served them warm over Breyer’s Vanilla Bean (my favorite). It was magic in a bowl.

Even though my Dad isn’t here with me anymore, I know he would have LOVED those cookies for Father’s Day!

What else have I been up to?

Hmmm… yoga on the beach! It was the ultimate form of relaxation. Well, as relaxing as exercise can be anyway.

I’ve also been eating way too much Trader Joe’s turkey jerky! It’s ridiculous how good it is.

It’s also crazy how much I’m there. I’m a TJ stalker.

Getting ice cream in the Summer is such a tradition. The other day we went to Dairy Queen and Ben got his favorite: a double fudge cookie dough blizzard. I didn’t even know that existed.

My favorite blizzard is still banana cream pie.

I can’t forget to mention all the cute summer accessories I’ve been seeing around. Here’s a necklace from Anthropologie that I’ve been eyeing for quite sometime. I love bright colors paired with a white top or jeans, especially with a nice summer tan.

By the way, I’m on Pinterest. Follow me!

Sooooo I saw these drop dead delicious crispy baked asian chicken wings I just knew I had to make them! They’re very easy to throw together and can be done in just about an hour. Um and they’re really freaking goooooood. Seriously if you are looking for great recipes that your entire family will love, then you need to check out Kelly’s blog Just A Taste.

Kelly and I also have an obsession with this guy right here:

It’s Ari from this season’s Bachelorette! I can’t believe how addicted I have become to that show. I seriously think I would cancel a date to watch it. I normally never watch television religiously either! If you’ve been watching I’d love to know who you are rooting for.

I have a lot of shows I need to catch up on. Revenge, Mad Men, and True Blood are all some of my favorites. I’ll save those for days I feel like baking cookies and relaxing.

Lastly, I found out some disappointing news last night. I didn’t get the job that I desperately have been working hard towards. I guess you could say it was my dream job.

I didn’t necessarily need the job, I just really wanted it. So today, I’m actually completely bummed, but I have to remember that there is so many other things to look forward to. I’m still only 23 and sometimes out of failure or rejection comes wonderful opportunities.

Remember the best is yet to come. 

Have a great weekend everyone!


Jun
26

I’ve always wondered why I am in love with everything that’s breakfast related…or you know, just obsessed with food in general.

I think I finally found the answer after visiting my Grandmother and spending time in the kitchen cooking with her. I’m now quite convinced that a love for food has been passed down to me. I know that it’s something that will be apart of me forever. In fact, cooking for others is absolutely my favorite thing in the world.

My future husband is one lucky man.

Kidding.

Wait… no I’m not.

My grandmother is Puerto Rican, so much of the food she cooks tends to be Spanish inspired; my Nana (Great Grandmother) taught her how to cook everything from scratch when she was a young girl. Ever since then, it’s been one of her favorite things to do. When my Grandma isn’t making homemade pozole, empanadas, and arroz con pollo, she is usually baking muffins the size of my face or throwing together a ridiculous continental breakfast for my Grandfather. Seriously give her a half hour and she’ll make you an incredible meal, but provide her with a couple of hours and you’ll have a masterpiece to eat.

She treats every meal she makes with affection, putting the utmost love into her creations — it’s an extraordinary quality. She pours her soul into stews and she throws her spice for life into spanish rice. Cooking is like an expression to her, and everything is always made with love.

My Grandma and I are two peas in a pod. I admire her in every way. I love her best though when she’s making me brunch, which often includes her famous buttermilk waffles. Crispy on the outside, warm and perfect on the inside.

When she made these incredible buttermilk waffles my Grandpa and I joked that this was probably the healthiest thing she made for us during my stay. I even specifically remember that she once asked me if I wanted waffles and ice cream for dinner. Another day she tried to feed me this pile of pastries for breakfast.

So wrong, but soooo good.

I think I’m still trying to burn off those calories, but hey, you only live once, right? I just have to teach my Grandma about the term ‘everything in moderation’. I mean, at least for my Grandfather’s sake.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you might remember when I mentioned that he’s had a couple of heart attacks. He’s still going strong though!

Did I mention they love each other like crazy? I mean, they are the ultimate romantics. Here’s a picture of my Grandpa attempting to fix my Grandma’s watch after it suddenly broke while we were out. He made it his mission to repair it immediately himself, walking to every shop nearby to see if they had a special pin for the band. Sure enough, he found one!

They both love and take care of each other. I think that’s pretty incredible to be going strong for nearly 60 years.

Cuties.

As I’m writing this, I’m fondly remembering the morning my Grandmother made these waffles for us, partly because they are the best waffles I’ve ever had. It was Mother’s Day and we all enjoyed a breakfast full of eggs with green chile, pastries (ugh, SO MANY PASTRIES), waffles and of course, coffee. As I was spreading peanut butter on my waffles and drenching them with syrup (best combination ever), I looked around the table and thanked God for my amazing family. They’ve taught me so much: to cook, to be determined, to laugh, to love, and to absolutely never give up! 

Now I’m the one pouring my heart and soul into the food I cook: whipping up pancakes with such care, crafting a skillet chicken (with pepperoni sauce) that only kids could adore, and browning lots of butter for the best chocolate chip cookies (the way to win anyone’s heart).

Cooking is my romance and I’m bringing it to you. I hope you’ll stay awhile and eat some ridiculously good waffles with me.

With butter, syrup, and whatever else your heart desires.

Grandma’s Buttermilk Waffles

Cooking Spray

1 3/4 all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups buttermilk

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, if desired

Directions

  1. Preheat waffle maker. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk in the buttermilk, eggs, butter, vanilla, and brown sugar (if desired) until blended. In a separate large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine the wet and dry ingredients; mix well.
  3. Pour batter into a preheated prepared waffle iron; cook according to manufacturer’s directions or when steam stops.  Top with maple syrup, peanut butter, honey, or fresh fruit preserves

Notes

  • You can add in additional ingredients such as: 1 cup fresh blueberries, 1/2 cup coconut, 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, dash of cinnamon, or whatever you’d like
  • I always spray my waffle iron with cooking spray before cooking each batch, I recommend doing the same
  • Makes 4 cups of batter or 5 waffles

Jun
24

There’s something about pizza that’s irresistible.

Who can just stop at one slice? Especially kids! Seriously, put a large pizza in front of two kids and it will be gone in approximately 5 minutes… then they’ll want cupcakes immediately after. How do they do it?! Bottomless stomachs.

I’d love to go back to that carefree world and eat a whole pizza for breakfast.

I’m being serious here.

I ate bagel bites alllll the time when I was a kid. Cute, delicious little pizza bagels is what they were. And let’s not forget about stuffed crust pizza! Too good. But please NEVER eat a pizza crust stuffed with hot dogs… that’s just disturbing.

As perfect as pizza can be, in any shape or form, I’ve never been a huge fan pepperoni; however, I made a spicy pepperoni tomato sauce, spooned it on top of skillet chicken, and topped it with mozzarella cheese. MIND BLOWING is what it is.

WHAT? The sauce is DAMN good. Quite possibly now the love of my life. No big deal though, I’ll walk you through the deliciousness so you can experience it for yourself in less than 30 minutes!

First we start with the best ingredients for the best sauce: roasted garlic pasta sauce (any type of tomato sauce would work such as marinara), fresh minced garlic, pepperoni, oregano, and fresh basil.

Saute pepperoni and fresh garlic for a few minutes. Savor the smells.

Note: I used turkey pepperoni; it tastes the same but has half the fat and calories of regular pepperoni. You can usually find it at your local grocery store.

 

Next, add your pasta sauce to the pan and add oregano.

Look at that steam rising!

Add red pepper flakes if you desire to make the sauce spicy, otherwise you can leave them out.

But please do add them. My motto: Spice up your food, spice up your life!

Now we add in the million dollar basil. Stir, and get a little obsessed.

Set the sauce aside. Sprinkle chicken with black pepper and cook in a skillet until golden brown and juices run clear.

Once chicken is cooked, spoon the pepperoni sauce on top. Resist the urge to just eat the sauce by the spoonful. I have no willpower sometimes.

Add cheese and place the skillet under the broiler for two minutes.

Remove and garnish fresh basil leaves, extra cheese, and/or extra red pepper flakes!

Even though I’m not a parent, I know that it can be difficult to find healthy meals that kids will enjoy. Just trust me on this: put something in front of them that tastes like pizza, and you’re golden. Using reduced-fat cheese and turkey pepperoni makes it even better for them and you!

Of course there are endless possibilities with this: Throw it on top of pasta or stuff it in a whole wheat pita (pita pizza)!

It’s a truly simple, healthy weeknight dinner that can be whipped together in a flash. I’m all about that.

 

Something else I’m all about? That Magic Mike movie. Drool.

 

Skillet Chicken with Spicy Pepperoni-Tomato Sauce

Cooking spray

2 cloves of garlic, minced

20 slices pepperoni (I used turkey), coarsely chopped

1 1/2 cups healthy tomato pasta sauce*

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenderloins

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic and pepperoni; cook 2 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring frequently. Add oregano; cook 30 seconds. Add tomato sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in basil.
  3. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. Sprinkle chicken with pepper. Add chicken to skillet; cook 5-6 minutes or until lightly browned, turning after 3 minutes and cook until chicken juices run clear. Spoon sauce over chicken; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.

Notes

  • *Use any pasta sauce you like, I recommend healthy low-sodium marinara sauce or a roasted garlic
  • Adapted from Cooking Light
  • Leave out red pepper flakes if cooking for kids, or if you don’t enjoy spicy food

Jun
21

I’ve been a bad girl.

…in the food blogging world.

I’ve neglected one of my favorite things: writing and cooking for you!

It’s been so beautiful that hot summer days and beach sunsets are getting my grocery shopping obsession a little bit off track. I just can’t help but soak up the sun and ocean every chance I get.

I’m also the girl who can never turn down breakfast, which is why I’ve been brunching around LA quite a bit. Brunching for hours is good for the soul. And quite tasty too! Fresh squeezed orange juice, dirty chai tea lattes (a must-try!), gorgeous fried egg-avocado sandwiches, acai bowls, blueberry buttermilk muffins; these things make me overjoyed.

I mean, you just know it’s been a good weekend when you can go to brunch and chow down on chocolate chip pancakes bigger than your face. Double points if you’re eating to cure a headache. Come on and laugh… you know it’s true.

It’s unfair that we can’t eat french fries and pancakes all the time, but with incredibly delicious vegan soups like this I don’t even miss them. That’s just a lie; I actually LOVE french fries all the time (especially with these homemade dipping sauces)!

Nevertheless this soup still is exceptionally good. The ingredients make the perfect combination of sweet and savory. It just reminds me of all things summer. Garlic! Onion! Carrots! Chickpeas! Tomatoes! Sweet Potatoes! Cumin! Fresh Basil!

I felt extremely satisfied after finishing off a bowl. In fact, I even told myself that it canceled out all that weekend eating and margarita downing. I only wish that were true.

This soup was inspired by a recipe for tomato-chickpea soup from one of my favorite new vegetarian cookbooks, Herbivoracious. A few weeks ago, I attended a book signing and cooking demonstration by Michael Natkin, author of the cookbook and blog Herbivoracious. The book if FULL of gorgeous vegetarian photos. I can’t wait to try out more recipes; some are even vegan and/or gluten-free too!

Michael sampled delicious stuffed polenta (a recipe in his book) at the event, signed my cookbook, and even told me he LOVED my blog name! Awwww.

One last thing. I’m excited to announce that I’ll be giving away this cookbook to one of my readers!

All you have to do is leave a comment below and tell me your favorite brunch spot (and what you eat there, obviously)! Also, be sure to like my Facebook page; where I’ll announce the winner a week from today!

 Don’t forget to make this soup! You might love it as much as french fries.

 

Vegan Tomato, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Soup
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup, Vegan
Vegan Tomato, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Soup -- healthy, easy to make and delicious!
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1 orange pepper, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1-(16 oz. can) chickpeas
  • 1-(16 oz can) diced tomatoes (I prefer fire roasted)
  • 2 cups vegetarian broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • fresh chopped basil, for garnish
  • 1 sliced avocado, for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in  a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and salt; saute for 2 minute. Add the diced orange pepper and carrots to the pot and saute for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the entire can of tomatoes to the pot. Next add the chickpeas, vegetarian broth, cumin, basil, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a simmer; reduce the heat to medium, add diced sweet potatoes. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  3. Serve, garnished with additional basil and/or avocado slices if desired. Serves 4.
Notes
Adding things like quinoa, chicken, pork, or turkey would make this dish higher in protein

Feel free to add parsley or cilantro instead of basil

You can use fresh tomatoes if you prefer.


Jun
12

Hey you! Yes, YOU! I like you… a lot. You brighten my day.

I feel so lucky to have such incredible readers; readers who make me feel amazing and inspired every single day. Many of you have been tweeting with me or posting on my Facebook page letting me know which recipes you’re loving, or what’s inspiring you to cook. Some of you have even sent me an email saying how my recipes have encouraged you to eat healthier. You are all so sweet and I’m OVERJOYED that this blog has inspired you.

I don’t know what to say other than… THANK YOU! It’s appreciated more than you know!

Now, let’s talk about quesadillas.

I love them. Adore them. Salivite over them! Yeah, I’m pretty weird but you’re probably okay with that by now if you’re still reading this.

Quesadillas are a traditional mexican dish that usually involves cheese and a savory mixture of vegetables and/or meat. They’re one of my favorite meals to put together at the last-minute because it involves throwing delicious combinations in a tortilla and toasting or frying it until crispy and golden brown. These days the traditional quesadillas have evolved into something wonderful: breakfast (or dessert) quesadillas!

It’s as simple as this: I am obsessed with the peanut butter and banana combo. Typically when I’m in a rush I put the duo on an english muffin and barely remember inhaling my breakfast, but I was getting a little bored with that. So instead of the usual, I thought I’d make it interesting by making peanut butter and banana quesadillas and adding in seasonal, ripe strawberries for a sort of PB&J twist.

My mind was BLOWN AWAY after one bite. In all seriousness, yours probably will be too.

If you’ve never experienced the peanut butter, strawberry, and banana combo–prepare to be amazed!

First of all–the strawberries in the quesadilla! They almost taste like they were roasted–exploding with flavor and juicyness from the heat. It reminds me of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, except with a fresh, more interesting appeal. The crunch of the tortilla and the warm, creamy peanut butter makes me wish I could go back to grade school and demand ask nicely for this in my lunchbox.

When making quesadillas I always use whole wheat-low carb tortillas because I love the nutty flavor of them, plus whole grains keep you fuller, longer. I recommend using Joesph’s Tortillas, but any whole grain tortilla would work well. This also would be an optimal pre or post-workout snack or meal because of the good carbs and healthy fats.

Additionally I HIGHLY recommend trying this for dessert. It’s pretty guilt-free, perfect for sharing, and kids will even love them. Plus they are vegan, and you could certainly make them gluten-free by using GF tortillas.

The possibilities are endless! Think about it.

Wouldn’t replacing nutella for peanut butter be dreamy? Or perhaps sprinkling in a few mini chocolate chips? What about dipping them in a warm chocolate sauce?

THAT could be like tasting a little bite of heaven. But those are just suggestions, feel free to get creative!

As requested, nutritional information is included.

Just please note that after this quesadilla, you’ll never want to settle for a traditional PB&J again. If you try them, be sure to let me know what you think.

Peanut Butter, Strawberry, & Banana Quesadillas
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 2
  • Serving size: 1/2 quesadilla
  • Calories: 263
  • Fat: 11g
  • Carbohydrates: 36g
  • Sugar: 9g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 8g
Recipe type: Breakfast, On the Go, Healthy, Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Delicious breakfast quesadilla stuffed with peanut butter, bananas and fresh strawberries. A great on the go breakfast.
Ingredients
  • Cooking spray or butter
  • 2 tablespoons natural creamy peanut butter
  • 2 whole grain tortillas
  • 1 large ripe banana, sliced
  • 4-5 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (if desired)
Instructions
  1. Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat and spray pan with cooking spray.
  2. Spread 1 tablespoon of the peanut butter evenly over each tortilla. Arrange both the banana and strawberry slices over one tortilla, sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon, and top with the remaining tortilla, peanut butter side down. Press gently to help them stick together.
  3. When the skillet is hot, add the quesadilla, flipping once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Cut each quesadilla into halves or quarters.
  4. Serves 2-4.
Notes
For a dessert version try adding 1 teaspoon of mini chocolate chips in
Serve with honey, maple syrup, vanilla greek yogurt, or chocolate sauce
Try with different nut butters, nutella or almond butter would be good
The nutritional information below is based on using a flour tortilla. Using a low carb, whole grain tortilla would lower the calories and carb count. It would also increase the fiber.

Jun
10

How was your weekend?

I was really hoping to catch Snowwhite & the Huntsman, but didn’t get around to it. Have you seen it? Charlize Theron looks unbelievable in the previews. I hope I look that good when I’m 35. If I keep running like I have been I might get there.

On Friday my friend and I were supposed to get up at 6am for a 6-mile run. We’re attempting to train for a marathon… or just run really long distances as I haven’t decided if I’ll actually do it. Anyway neither of us could get out of bed so we opted for an evening run instead… which was awful. Miserable even! I thought I was going to die; the sun was beating on my face and I was literally sweating waterfalls. It was 90 degrees out and instead of 6 miles, we decided to run 9. I thought someone was going to have to scoop me off from the pavement and put an IV in my arm. But we made it!

Even though at times running can be torture, I always feel great afterwards; like I could run another 9 miles… or at least bake some pretty unbelievable banana muffins like these.

Baking muffins seems like the only appropriate thing to do with all the leftover ripe bananas just sitting on the kitchen counter. It happens on a weekly basis. Probably because they’re only 19 cents at Trader Joe’s — and I’m never one to pass up a good deal (especially when you grocery shop as much as I do). It’s why I make an obscene amount of banana bread, banana cupcakes… oh, and my new favorite? Banana Ice Cream. Baking things with bananas just makes my heart beat.

I first made these a month ago when visiting my grandparents. I wanted to bake something special for my grandpa–who happens to LOVE everything banana. I mean, we’re obviously related.

He’s also had a couple of heart attacks so I didn’t want to give him something unhealthy (like the bacon and muffins-the-size-of-my-head my grandma makes him EVERY MORNING). I’ve included the nutritional information for these at the bottom of this post.

Seriously even healthy banana muffins never disappoint.

I don’t know about you, but some mornings I want to enjoy a baked good and not feel guilty about it. These better-for-you banana muffins make that happen with simple swaps to cut fat and calories.

Using very ripe bananas provide natural sweetness for the muffins (meaning you don’t need to use as much sugar). Dark brown sugar is also slighty sweeter compared regular brown sugar, so I opted for that. I swapped out the butter for non-fat greek yogurt (mega protein), which makes the muffins moist and deliciously appealing. Adding egg whites vs. whole eggs reduces the fat and calories.

A brown sugar-walnut crumble was completely necessary though. The walnuts add a touch of good fats and the crumbly topping… DIVINE!

My grandpa gobbled them up in less than two days and my competitor grandma even asked me for the recipe. That says something since she makes everything delicious from scratch.

I don’t think I need to tell you that these are especially good for midnight snacking. Warm them up and spread with creamy peanut butter. Muffin heaven!

But then again, when isn’t a muffin good?

Better-For-You Banana Muffins with Brown Sugar-Walnut Crumble

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3 large ripe bananas, mashed

2 tablespoons butter, melted*

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup non-fat plain greek yogurt

2 1/2 tablespoons milk of choice (skim, soy, almond, coconut, etc)

For walnut crumb topping:

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

 

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line 12 muffin cups with paper cups or spray with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl mix flour, baking soda, and salt together. In a separate bowl combine bananas, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, non-fat greek yogurt, egg whites and melted butter. Stir banana mixture into the flour mixture just until combined and add milk. Batter will be thick. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full.
  3. In a small bowl mix brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, walnuts and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon of butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the muffins. Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean.

Notes

  • *Instead of butter, you can use a vegan friendly alternative, or a healthy oil such as coconut
  • Muffins freeze well, simply wrap individually in plastic wrap and stick in freezer
  • You can also sub 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour in for the regular flour, just add another tablespoon of milk

 

Nutrition Information

Servings Size: 12 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 177 Calories from Fat 37 (21%)

% Daily Value *

Total Fat 4g

6%

Saturated Fat 2g

6%

Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 6mg

2%

Sodium 228mg

10%

Potassium 222mg

6%

Total Carbohydrate 29g

10%

Dietary Fiber 1g

6%

Sugars 13g
Protein 7g

14%

 

 
 
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