Jul
02

I feel as though I’ve been waiting forever for humid summer nights. And my goodness are they here. Smoky BBQ meat, fresh juicy watermelon, and frozen yogurt has taken over my life and I couldn’t be more ecstatic about it.

As you’ve probably seen via my Instagram, I’ve been taking a few summer trips. Along the way, I find myself eating out and enjoying food relative to each state’s culture. Often times, I’ll order some sort of chopped salad; each one being more unique than the last. In New Mexico, I enjoyed a BBQ Chicken salad with green chile, chickpeas, jicama, mango, red pepper and an incredible cumin-lime dressing. In Minnesota, I often munch on my Healthy Chicken Chickpea Chopped salad and mix up the dressings. When in North Carolina visiting Tony, I gravitate to greek salads with red potatoes, grilled onions, olives, and loads of feta cheese.

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Apr
11

Healthy vegan avocado 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.

Healthy Flourless Black Bean Avocado Brownies

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!

Healthy Flourless Black Bean Avocado Brownies

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!

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Jan
22

Learn how to make homemade dark chocolate almond butter at home. This will be your new favorite thing to spread on toast!

Today we need to talk about something important.

Something that changed my life.

Okay, maybe we should back up a bit. After a week of being MIA on the blog, I haven’t even asked you how you are. I hope you’re wonderful. I hope you laughed today and told someone that you loved them.

Maybe you’ll tell me you love me after you try this recipe. Cause guess what I made you guys?! Healthy homemade Nutella. I know how you guys feel about nutella and you know how I feel about stuffing it in cookies. Nut butters and I are soulmates,

But this… THIS nut butter is kinda my new jam. Or butter, I guess?

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Jan
12

A delicious vegan and gluten free kale detox salad with an incredible lemon dressing — you’ll make this again and again!

Today I want to tell you about one of my favorite salads. Yes, it’s a sort of ‘detox salad’.

My mom first made it for me for me three years ago. I adore the recipe for so many reasons: it’s fresh, bright, and flavorful. Plus you can add nearly anything to it to dress it up.

If you’ve never had kale before, this salad is perfect to start with!

The reason I call this a detox salad because not only is it vegan and gluten free, but it also has an incredible amount of good for you ingredients in it.

Side note: I’m watching Dawson’s Creek right now. Paceyyyyyyyy!

Sorry… back to the salad.

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Jan
08

Oven roasted green beans with garlic, parmesan cheese, and tomatoes – the perfect side dish!

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Green things! Finally, right?

For the last month, I ate way too much Mexican food, drank too many bottles of wine, and consumed wayyyy too much sugar. Talk about an overload. What I really need in my life (and maybe yours, too) is a little balance.

The good news is that work finally seems to be slowing down and I’m planning a couple of things including a blog redesign and a trip to Australia!

Yes, my boyfriend and I are headed down under for almost two weeks next month! Our trip starts in Sydney, then we’re road tripping from Brisbane to Byron Bay, then back through the Gold Coast, and finally ending in Brisbane for one of my darling friend’s wedding. She just sent me a picture of the bridesmaid’s dress and it’s beyond gorgeous!

Monique at Byron Bay

Even though I briefly lived in Australia and explored, I’m excited to head back and do some adventuring! Above is a picture of me at Byron Bay, the most eastern point of Australia; it was where I first learned to surf!

If you have any recommendations of things to do, see, or visit – please leave a comment or send me an email! I’d love to hear them!

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Dec
13

Before I shove more cookies in your face, I have some very exciting news to share!

I’m headed back to Australia!

During college, I studied abroad on the Gold Coast and it literally changed my life. I’m not sure if it was the travel aspect or meeting new people, but I felt like a new person after living there. Most of all, I felt so lucky to meet one of my best friends, Susie.

susie

Susie and I hit it off right away; it’s as though we were sisters, I swear! We met in a public speaking course at Bond University and immediately clicked. Our daily ritual consisted of drinking soy lattes, eating white chocolate chip macadamia nut muffins, and laughing nonstop. We supported each other, shared secrets, and talked about what we wanted to do when we graduated from college. Of course, we both had big dreams: Susie wanted to be a reporter or a pilot (she now flies a small private jet), and I wanted to own my own business (check!). Now it’s been nearly four years since I’ve seen Susie, but our friendship hasn’t changed one bit.

Well, except for the fact that she’s getting married! And best of all, I’m beyond thrilled that she asked me to be her Maid of Honor! I won’t be there to help her plan many of the details, but we’re going to Skype and I’ll do as much as possible from America! She deserves this happiness more than anything.

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Oct
14

SO much to say. So little time. Currently I’m in a coffee shop as I just moved into my new place and haven’t set up the internet yet. It’s a weird world without the internet you guys. As in I actually went to bed before midnight yesterday. CRAZY I know. Maybe it’s a good thing.

Hmmm what else? I bought a new couch! The color looks like the inside of an almond; I’m in love with it because it’s one of those couches that completely gorgeous but also amazingly comfy. It’s being delivered on Friday so I’ll be sure to share some photos soon. I’m also getting an AMAZING vintage refinished table from a good friend (Hi Sherry!). If you couldn’t tell, I’m going for the romantic shabby chic/Californian look with a touch of vintage. It’s been a blast hunting for pieces and shopping!

By the way, have I mentioned that I miss you guys? Like really, life is getting INSANE. I wish I had the time to blog more! Right now I’m taking two classes, working a full time job, creating recipes, working out, and trying to have a social life. But hey, that’s life.

And sometimes you just have to reward yourself with brownies.

Yep. Fudgy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies.

Made without flour. Made without animals (vegan). Made WITH love.

And made supremely decadent (yet still healthy) by the best combo known to mankind: pb & chocolate.

Are you with me here?

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Oct
01

Hi guys! Sorry about taking last week off of blogging. I was in Boston on a little vacation with some of my friends from college. We had an unbelievable time baking cookies (new recipe coming soon), exploring the North End, running around Southie, and laughing until we couldn’t anymore. Life is good! I’ll have a recap soon of all of my Boston outings plus some favorite things of mine, too! But of course, Monday came and vacation ended. And now it’s October; I can’t believe it! I’ve been busy running outside trying to soak it all up before Minnesota weather comes swinging in with negative temperatures. Obviously since it’s been so lovely, I’ve been slacking in the baking department. Sorry about that! I’m back now… with tasty little bars. You’re excited, right?

You should be! I’m a HUGE fan of all things pumpkin. In fact if I had to choose my last meal on earth, it would be a simple slice of warm pumpkin pie with whipped cream. That’s my heaven. Seriously pumpkin is the JAM to my peanut butter. What I really mean is that it completes me.

These bars are just as wonderful as pie in their own way. They make mornings a little brighter. Somehow they feel romantic and will definitely have your house smelling like fall.

Oh and did I mention that they’re healthy? Yes, you can totally eat them for breakfast or as a snack — there’s only 128 calories per bar and healthy ingredients, too!

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Sep
09

It’s been incredibly warm in Minnesota so I’ve been trying to workout outside as much as possible. Yesterday I biked 15 miles; my legs are feeling a little tired today! I find that drinking lots and lots of water helps with all of the aches. That and a giant spoonful of peanut butter. Hehe.

My meals are all prepared for the week, too! I’m trying to eat clean so I baked garlic chicken, and roasted broccoli and sweet potatoes. I also made some delicious gluten free pumpkin bars, and sauteed kale & garden veggies. I don’t have much free time on the weeknights so my meals need to be ready. Plus it helps me to stay on track when trying to eat right.

Last week I made this delicious vegetarian chili packed with lentils & quinoa. Mmmmmm!

This chili reminded me of my sweet potato and black bean quinoa chili; the flavors are very similar and deeeelicious!

So much goodness goes into a pot: lentils, quinoa, black beans, kidney beans, red pepper, fresh tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, plus a touch of curry powder.

Let’s not forget about the nutrition: a little over 300 calories, 17g of fiber, and 18g of protein. This chili will fill you up!

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