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

 


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%

 


May
02

Guess what Saturday is?

Cinco de Mayo!

Guess what we do?

Stuff our face with Mexican goodness and guzzle skinny margaritas. Duh.  

Don’t act like you’re not intrigued with breakfast enchiladas. Psssstt… they’re healthy too! The guys who taste tested these for me even approved, buuuuttttt I have a feeling Paula Deen would not. Sorry Paula, we’re saving our calories for margaritas.

Let’s be honest with eachother for a moment. There is no pretending that we won’t chase down everything with alcoholic beverages come Saturday. Margaritas with breakfast? Why not? it’s Cinco de Mayo and I love to pretend I’m Mexican! Come on, we know how this holiday works… and how painful Sunday is going to be.

Forget about hangovers. Focus on a breakfast that gets you ready for a day full of delicious chips and guac. Since Cinco de Mayo happens to be this Saturday (and because I prefer a week full of celebrations), I thought I’d share this with you a little early.

I had been thinking about breakfast enchiladas for quite sometime. More like dreaming about them every night. Anyway I decided to wrap the traditional huevos rancheros breakfast (eggs + beans) into tortillas and load them with delicious business (also known as red sauce and avocados). 

I’m really happy with that decision because I now want to eat these everyday for the rest of my life. And I can do that because they only have about 230 calories per enchilada. Yes!

Let me break it down for you.

Whole wheat tortillas (because we’re healthy whole grain eating people, duh).

Fluffy scrambled eggs (with mostly protein packed egg whites).

Refried black beans.

Jalapeno.

Cilantro.

Red peppers.

Low fat cheeeeeese.

Uhhhh can I just tell you that basically these enchiladas are made from the best stuff on earth?

This is the fun part. The delicious business.

We combine the things I dream about into the tortillas. Drizzle with LOTS of red sauce, and roll them up tight. Time to pop in the oven and get ready for a tastebud party in less than 30 minutes. 

To be honest, enchiladas never disappoint me. And these certainly wont disappoint you.

 

Skinny Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Enchiladas

6 whole wheat tortillas (I like low carb, or you could also use corn tortillas to make these gluten-free.)

2 whole eggs + 6 egg whites

1 can (16 oz) good red enchilada sauce

1 can (16 oz) refried black beans

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

3/4 cup low-fat cheese (I like colby jack or mexican)

Pinch of salt

Black pepper

1 tomato, diced

1/2 avocado, diced

6 tablespoons fat free sour cream

 

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine refried beans, diced red peppers, cilantro, and jalapeno together in a large bowl; set aside. In a medium bowl beat your eggs together. Coat large pan with non stick cooking spray and add your eggs. Let eggs set around the edges, and then begin to stir every few seconds, until eggs are barely set and still fluffy. Sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Place your tortillas on a microwave safe plate and microwave for about 20 seconds. Next, coat 11×7 inch pan with nonstick spray.
  3. Next fill each tortilla the following way: spread 1/4 cup of black bean mixture in the middle of each tortilla, add 2 heaping tablespoons of scrambled eggs, 1 heaping tablespoon of cheese, and 2 tablespoons of enchilada sauce. Roll each tortilla up one by one and place seam side down in the baking dish. You will end up with 6 tortillas.
  4. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the rolled tortillas, then sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake 25 minutes. Let stand a couple of minutes, then sprinkle with extra cilantro, tomatoes, and avocados. Add 1 tablespoon of sour cream on top if desired.

Serves 6 

Notes:

  • You could certainly use all egg whites if desired to cut more calories from the recipe
  • These would also be delicious with a green chili enchilada sauce
  • To make gluten-free, use corn tortillas
  • For another great, healthy enchilada recipe, check out my black bean chicken enchiladas

 

Nutrition facts

Calories 228
 
Total Fat 7g
Saturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Total Carbohydrate 31g
Dietary Fiber 5g
Sugars 2g
Protein 10g
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs.The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

* I used SweeterSpoon.com to calculate the nutritional information


Apr
29

Mmmm banana pancakes. With quinoa.

Oh yes I did.

Quinoa is one of my favorite grains. I mean what’s not to love? It’s versatile, gluten-free, protein packed, and the nutty flavor delivers every single time. Remember my lemon blueberry quinoa pancakes?  They’re my absolute favorite. I devour them in 5.6 seconds everytime I make them. Can you tell I’m a fan? I could be the quinoa spokeswoman.

Quinoa queen?

Nevermind.

I wish I would have had these pancakes today before I did three hours worth of yoga this morning. I was aching for these through every downward dog and warrior two.

Then guess what happened? I got pulled over (for the first time ever) after leaving class. Apparently I went through a red light. Seems I was distracted with the thought of delicious quinoa pancakes in my belly. Thankfully the police officer didn’t give me a ticket. He was surprisingly nice – I’m guessing because I looked like a hot sweaty mess who was about to eat her own arm.

Once I got home and I devored these like I was a contestant on the biggest loser who hadn’t eaten in weeks. A little absurd. I even paired each pancake with different flavor toppings because who doesn’t love a little variety? One had maple syrup and bananas (classic), another had raspberry jam and toasted coconut (so so so goooood), and finally my favorite: mini chocolate chips with peanut butter (love the banana, chocolate, and peanut butter combo). I recommend trying out some different toppings.

But SERIOUSLY, these pancakes are actually good for you. If you’re trying to eat more whole grains, or if you are looking for a healthier breakfast, then I think you should give these a try. I love making pancakes and then throwing them in the freezer. They’re incredibly easy to heat up in the microwave and take to go. Just spread with a little healthy topping and devour!

Okay… one last bit of news! I’ve decided to restructure my blog a little bit. I will now be focusing on healthy, creative recipes. Of course you’ll see the occasional cupcake and brownie, but generally less sweets and more good eats. In my own life, I try to eat healthy and balanced and love sharing my passion for health with others.

Now let’s eat!

Whole Wheat Banana Quinoa Pancakes
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Pancakes, Breakfast, Brunch, Healthy, Whole Grain
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3 large egg whites or 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons of milk of your choice (skim, soy, almond, coconut)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (you could also use honey or maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large very ripe bananas, pureed
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together quinoa, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg whites, yogurt, milk, vanilla, and brown sugar until smooth. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and whisk to combine. Add pureed bananas and mix until just combined.
  2. Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with butter or cooking spray and heat over medium. Drop batter by 1/4 cup onto skillet. Cook until bubbles appear on top, about 2 minutes. Flip cakes and cook until golden brown on underside, 2 minutes. Wipe skillet clean and repeat with more melted butter and remaining batter.
  3. Makes about 10 pancakes. Top with peanut butter, maple syrup, fruit, or chocolate chips.
Notes
Adapted from Martha Stewart's quinoa pancakes
If pancakes are too thick, add 1 tablespoon of milk to the batter. If pancakes are too thin, add 1 tablespoon of flour to the batter
Sub gluten free flour for whole wheat if you'd like
Adding 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder to batter would make great chocolate banana pancakes

Apr
07

You are who you choose to be.

I know this to be true.

I’m the girl who gets up early Saturday mornings to bake and cook. I could spend an entire day doing it. There is no doubt that waking up every day to do something with food would make me happy. It’s becoming evident that it’s so much more than a hobby.

Which is why I am choosing to leave my current job.

Yeah, this just got serious.

Read more.


Mar
31

What are you doing this weekend?

I purchased an Ostrich egg from Whole Foods. What?! I know. The egg is bigger than my head, cost $30 dollars, and could quite possibly feed a family the size of the Duggars. Soo… are you hungry?

Welcome to the world of Monique where I impulse grocery shop and talk about things that are just weird. Apparently I was utterly fascinated with this egg. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it now. Perhaps an Easter egg hunt? I would totally be excited to find an egg the size of my head.

Read more.


Mar
11

Before I start talking about how ridiculously awesome homemade bagels are, I need your help!

I recently entered into a recipe contest for Food.com where I made Mexican Breakfast Tostadas with Avocado Pico de Gallo…. but I need your vote in order to win!  So if you would all be kind enough to jump on over to the site, register, and give me 5 stars… I would greatly appreciate it. I might even come make you these tostadas which include cumin spiced potatoes, black beans, eggs, goat cheese, and a spicy avocado pico. You need a margarita too? I know how to use a blender.

Really though, making breakfast for the special people in my life is my way of showing them I care. A creamy bowl of oatmeal with blueberries to share with my grandma, or a simple bagel sandwich to-go for a friend. My mom is perfectly happy eating toast topped with peanut butter, sliced bananas, and cinnamon. It’s those easy, delicious bites that really demonstrate my appreciation for them.

They do say that it’s the thought that counts…

Read more.


Feb
28

 

Hi. I love you. I really do. I even had to make you a healthy banana bread to say so. Fresh blueberries, thick rolled oats, and a whole lot of soul went into making this bread.

Plain and simple, you people have made me incredibly happy! Ambitious Kitchen now has over 20,000 views thanks to you. And, just look at all these pins on Pinterest from my blog. Like, Holy crap! I’m totally blushing. 

Read more.


Dec
28

The cookies are gone.

The pie has been eaten.

The Peanut Butter Cup Banana Bread can no longer be made into french toast for breakfast. Tragic!

Now that the holidays are almost over, we’ve got to get our skinny on. Let’s get obsessed with oats, nuts, and fruit!

Granola is the picture of health, right?

Before we put our skinny jeans on, let’s laugh over Christmas stories.

Read more.

 
 
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