Yes, the weekend is here. I should be thrilled, but to tell you the truth, I am sooooooo tired. The only thing I’m thrilled about is the chance to sleep in.
I don’t think I’ve recovered from last weekend yet, plus my new job started on Monday so I’ve been going, going, going. Maybe I’ll take the weekend to recover just a little bit. This is really just me explaining why I haven’t been posting as frequently.
But here’s something to look forward to: A brand new redesigned Ambitious Kitchen! Yes, each day we’ve been plugging away on my new site! I’m excited for it to launch, but let me tell you, it takes more work than you would think!
Anyway since I’ve been on the go lately, I’ve needed to make sure that all of my meals and snacks are prepared ahead of time.
I’m also kind of on this no-wheat experimentation diet, thus I’ve been eating high protein breakfasts — including these awesome veggie-packed egg white muffins.
Confession of the day: I’m an absolute lover of mini meals because I consider them real treats! For example, my go-to snacks are bananas rolled in toasted almonds, rice cakes with cottage cheese and honey, or cereal with ice cold almond milk. Oh and margaritas! Because those can be considered snacks, right?
Anyway I’m getting back to the point here… I eat a lot of carbs, and that’s a problem. But you guys, I just ADORE nooks-and-crannies english muffins and basically every flavor or Cheerios to ever hit the market (minus Dulce de Leche).
Raise your hand if I just described you, too.
Surprisingly I’ve managed to stop buying both bread and cereal so now the only carb-like food lurking in my cupboards is a pack of rice cakes, low-carb tortillas, and apparently marshmallow creme, which I ate from the jar last night while watching old episodes of Felicity.
I don’t know if you know this but teen drama from the 90s is extremely stressful.
So this whole low-carb thing means that I am forced to give up pasta and opt for something else to pair tomato sauce with. That’s where spaghetti squash comes in handy; it’s gluten-free, low-carb, and freaking delicious! Did you know that one cup of spaghetti squash only has 42 calories and 8 net carbs? I can literally eat platefuls of it!
The real star today isn’t the spaghetti squash though; it’s my homemade arrabbiata sauce — a spicy tomato marinara sauce with garlic and herbs. I was reading somewhere that arrabbiato means angry in Italian, which for me just translates into one mean, spicy marinara! It is sensational, especially when paired with garden veggies.
I enjoy making homemade tomato sauce because I love knowing what ingredients are being used plus the flavors are always bold and fresh. I thought it would be fun to show you how I make my favorite sauce without canned ingredients so that you can enjoy it too! Trust me, once you try this you won’t go back.Read more.
Every now and then I love a little real-talk blogging. Today is one of those days.
The past year has been full of life-altering changes for me. I’ve shed many layers from my life…. and can I just admit that it’s all been incredibly difficult?! I’ve started my own business, traveled at least a week out of every month, lived in three states, and have literally been pulling my hair out trying to figure out where this is all leading to!
So what does this translate into? Basically working insane hours and jeopardizing A LOT. Honestly it’s been a complete struggle. I’m sure it’s something you might be able to relate to: failure, disappointments, and well… whatever life throws at you. Of course, I’m a huge believer that everything happens for a reason. My passion for success and a career in food pushes me every single day to keep pursuing my dream no matter how many times I fail. And trust me, I fail more than you know! My list of unsuccessful ventures will always be longer anything I accomplish; it will be for all of us. However, these failures push you to become better and to learn.
In a sense, I feel as though I’m in the middle of a transformation. I’m trusting my intuition and regardless of how difficult it becomes or what disappointments I find myself in, I’m both blessed and thankful to be on this journey.
So my question to you, is what pushes you to be the best you can be? What drives you to be better than you were yesterday?
I’m just a twenty-four year old girl who is literally obsessed with food, styling, photography and the inspiration I find in every day life. I’m not here to pretend I’m perfect in any way, because I’m not. I’m just explicitly in love with sharing my passion with you.
Oh sorry, that’s a bit obvious and this is getting preachy. Excuse me, let’s get to the FOOD!
The other day my best friend’s mom asked when I was going to start seriously dating someone that I was just sort-of seeing?
Ummmm I don’t know, I just turned 24? And what is this — an intervention? I mean is there a deadline that I missed out on that says you have be in super serious relationship by a certain age? Can’t it all be casual and cool? I like going on dates, I’m just not on the marriage train. I prefer to live in the reality that love is a fairy tale, you know after I chase down all of my dreams and travel around the globe.
Speaking of romance, Valentine’s Day is coming up! Quick, Let’s eat salads before we overcompensate by shoving heart-shaped Reese’s in our mouths!
Just kidding… Sort of?
Lately, I have been a complete train wreck. Okay not necessarily in a bad way though; I’ve just been focusing on prioritizing my projects for work AND keeping up with the blog. Juggling them can be difficult and most of the time I end up working on the weekends with little time for guzzling my favorite margaritas. Wait, now that I think about it… aren’t margaritas a priority? Hmmmm. I’ll have to ponder that one.
Anyway this whole getting my life organized thing has forced me to become incredibly prepared since I’m always on the go. This includes making my meals ahead of time: oat muffins for the morning, greek yogurt with caramelized almonds for a sweet afternoon snack, and this pretty superfruit and nut salad that I’ve enjoyed chowing down on for lunch.
Is it normal that I sleep with my iPhone under my pillow? Or that when I immediately wake up I check all of my SEVEN email accounts? Um, probably not.
I need to figure out a way to unplug from all of the communication sometimes. Or just find a balance. When I’m not working on my site, I’m constantly plugged in for my other job. As much as I tell myself that I need to take a break and relax, it’s hard to step away from the chaos of work and the busyness of life; I’m sure many of you can relate!
Usually the only thing that gets me away from all of it is the chaos of my own kitchen — my own little sweet happy spot. As soon as I put on a little music and begin to dice and chop, my creative energy pours into pots and pans, creating good food for loved ones.
This stew was made during an evening when my mind was cluttered and I needed a release. I had a busy day full of meetings. Okay and I was also dreaming about when I would actually get those girl scout cookies I ordered — like how long it would take for me to destroy 5 boxes this year? Whattttttt? Girl scout cookies are stressful to think about.
Anyway there was a jar of lentils that had been sitting in my cupboard along with gorgeous organic sweet potatoes from Whole Foods. It was time to put the iPhone down. A lovely pot of stew was an adventure I was ready to take on.
This past weekend I spent my time catching up with a friend and enjoying a short trip to DC. I absolutely love weekend trips! You get in and out of cities with a few fantastic meals, memories to laugh over, and the excitement of travel. There’s only really one thing I despise: travel aftermath.
I always find myself in a state of chaos after an adventure. I’ll even fully admit to you that my suitcase isn’t getting unpacked for at least two weeks. There will also be piles of laundry starting at me, and it will take at least two days to sift through emails. Oh and then to top it all off I have to think about cooking myself dinner after dining out all weekend and guzzling margaritas like I have the metabolism of a gymnast… forget it! At that point all I desire to do is spread out in my bed and watch a marathon of shows that used to be cool in the 90s. Or the Food Network because it’s truly the only channel I need.
This is the time where super lean turkey sloppy joes come in. They’re so easy to throw together — and healthy too! Total travel worry diminished. Really you guys, you absolutely have no idea how obsessed I am with favorite childhood foods, particularly heaping tomato slathered juicy turkey sandwiched between a whole wheat hamburger bun. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE. As a kid, I used to eat them with corn chips almost every day. Now that I’m an adult, I hold the hope that someone will create a sloppy joe food truck and park it in front of my house during lunch time.
Okay I admit that’s an unlikely scenario, but I really do adore them! These joes are a quick fix for my comfort food cravings.
Seriously how much easier could dinner get? Minimal ingredients. Healthy and easy. Just awesome flavor in your mouth. They remind me of being a kid! This recipe calls for a bit of BBQ sauce which means the sloppy joes aren’t as sweet, but instead have a perfect tangy, rich flavor with a hint of spice. I recommend using a bbq sauce with minimal sugar, and a spicy flavor, although your favorite sauce would work too. My favorite way to serve them? With sharp cheddar cheese on whole wheat crusty buns. Doooo it.
Soup is one of my favorite things during the cold winter months. I literally dream about the days where I can sit with a good book, a cup of soup, and a slice of crusty bread to soak up all that warm comfort left on the bottom of my bowl.
And of course in between eating pie for breakfast (there were leftovers!) and shoveling Christmas cookies in my mouth; my soul craves soup. Perhaps because it’s the only thing that isn’t made up of purely sugar and butter. Goodness, my body needs a break from that. And this soup? Well, it leaves me full, warm, and richly satisfied.
The butternut squash is roasted in the oven to bring out it’s natural sweetness. Meanwhile the apples, carrots and onions are sauteed with a bit of cinnamon. Lastly the maple and milk are added. The soup is easily pureed into a fairly thick and creamy delight which ends up being quite delicious paired with croutons, or a warm crusty bread for dipping.
It’s really quite perfect in between those overindulgent family get-togethers, cookies exchanges, and peppermint lattes.
I was planning on giving you a recipe for hummus today, but after making these brownies I knew that I had to share them with you immediately! In fact after I ate half of the pan for dinner, I’m quite certain that these brownies are some of the best I’ve ever had.
I don’t even feel guilty about getting chocolate wasted with these bad boys.
I had heard about black bean brownies before, so I’ve been experimenting for a few weeks with various recipes and came up with this to surprise and delight you.
After baking these, I stood there smiling with chocolate all over my face because I had finally perfected a recipe for fudgy healthy brownies that taste AMAZING. Yeah, okay I know you’re doubting me right now. You might even think I’m super weird (which I totally am).
I have some very important information to share with you.
I’m on a no pie diet. The importance of that statement can’t be questioned.
Does this mean you won’t see sweet recipes? Nope, it just means I’m going to bake and eat brownies, cookies, and homemade pop-tarts instead. Pie baking is saved for special occasions only (otherwise my thighs would hate me). Wait, my half-birthday is coming up! That’s a special occasion… right? More pie please!
Focus Monique. Obviously we’re not taking about anything sweet here. What we are talking about is a Sweet Potato & Chicken Mexican Stir-Fry that you’ll want every day for the rest of your life. Facts only.
I had oatmeal, a chocolate protein shake, and broccoli for dinner tonight. Wait… what?! Yes, it’s that time of year. Warm weather is on its way, and soon I’ll be spending my days in oversized sunglasses and a bikini. That’s my plan.
I’m getting ready by eating simple meals, but that only gets you so far. I’ve also been attending hot yoga classes. I’m really hoping the next time I go the guy next to me doesn’t smell like Campbell’s chicken noodle soup. Broth sweat is not cool dude!
Anyway, I’m getting prepared and I’m sure you all can relate. This is real life. I know you want chocolate cake and fluffy cream cheese frosting… I do too. But let’s just play it cool this weekend, okay?
Time to hush up and make some healthy, delicious chili!