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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Nov
08

You won’t believe that these fudgy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars are made with lentils.Vegan and gluten free!

WAIT. WHAT?

LENTILS in a dessert? You think I’m crazy? Weird? Cute? Maybe it’s a combo.

We’ll get to this dessert soon. First off, it’s Friday!

I haven’t slept all freaking week. I wish I was kidding. I’ve been preparing for the launch of a brand new site for work and so we’ve been busy plugging away, staying late, and chugging coffee. I’ve also been trying to get back into working out after taking a little over a week off. Last night I went to my favorite yoga sculpt class. Ummmm you guys… it was pure hell and I mean that in the best way possible. I literally thought I was going to throw up on my yoga mat, and that never happens to me (sorry for being so descriptive). I guess that’s what happens after a week of vacation wine and cookie inhaling.

Today I rewarded myself with a small dark hot chocolate. I figured that I haven’t had a real hot chocolate in ages, and I felt like I needed a sweet treat to keep me going. Let me tell you, it was SO worth it. I even topped mine with extra whipped cream. It’s important to treat yourself to a little indulgence; I hope you all do the same this weekend!

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Aug
27

Hi! I came down with little cold yesterday, so I couldn’t finish writing this recipe. But I chugged NyQuil and ate cough drops like candy so now I’m feeling much better. I even went on a 14 mile bike ride this morning. Yay.

I have to tell you that my biggest goal has been to blog on a more frequent basis, thus I spent this past weekend developing three new recipes. And of course, pumpkin season is coming… you know what that means. PUMPKIN EVERYTHING. Are you excited? I am.

But first, some healthy truffles for you.

Yes! The black beans are back. They’re hiding in these fudgy chocolate bites. And they’re AWESOME.

Ummmm please don’t stare at your screen like that. Don’t question the deliciousness! These are addicting! In all seriousness, if you liked my black bean brownies or my chickpea blondies, then I’m sure you’ll LOVE these.

Check out this fun video I made:

http://instagram.com/p/bZOopTLXsF/

So what else is hiding in the truffles besides the beans? Good quality cocoa powder, coconut oil (or olive), a touch of maple syrup, and chocolate protein powder if you’d like a protein boost. I’ve included directions for both versions. Just remember that if you want to keep the truffles vegan, then simply use a vegan chocolate protein powder such as Vega.

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Aug
01

Why are pancakes so yum?

Maybe because similar to cake, you can make a million versions and they always taste incredible. Sweet, savory, melt-in-your mouth, hearty, and always lovely.

These particular pancakes were actually a happy accident. Last weekend I was babysitting and was experimenting with different pancake recipes for the kids. After cooking them, I realized that I had forgotten to add the egg to the batter! But no worries, these pancakes totally work without any eggs… they’re fluffy, moist, tender, and slightly sweet.

I love recipe success.

1-Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes

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Jul
18

Please excuse my mini absence from blogging! I’ve really wanted to bring you a recipe, but I’ve been quite busy demolishing chickpea blondies, working, and hitting the yoga studio. Every day I look at the clock and it seems to always be 11PM… I have absolutely no idea where the time goes. I do know that the weather in Minnesota has been OUTSTANDING lately, so instead of editing photos and cooking all the time I’ve been trying enjoying the sunshine (we only get 5 months of it).

And these cookies? Well I’ve been enjoying them, too.

Due to my recent yoga challenge, I’ve been trying to eat better but obviously my sweet tooth is ridiculous. I will admit that I’ve gone through a couple of batches of my black bean brownies, but I kind of wanted something a little different.

Cookies are always a great solution.

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Jul
08

Ahhhhh I live for the weekends, and this last one was just so lovely and relaxing. I mean who doesn’t love laying in bed an extra half hour on Saturday mornings? These days, it’s a luxury.

That being said, I’m starting to realize that I can no longer be sleep deprived, over-caffeinate myself, and still function like a normal human being. My habits of staying up until 1AM on the weekdays are starting to wear on me. Also, I should make a note to stop checking my email at 3AM. Clearly I have no idea what the term ‘unplugged’ means.

Oh well. On to more exciting things…

On Saturday I found 10 bananas in a brown paper bag that I had purchased eariler in the week. Thank goodness because I was in a baking mood! MUFFINS, BREADS, COOKIES… I can’t stop.

Bananas are my absolute favorite! They pack potassium and digestible (good-for-you) carbs. So, what does this mean? Well, they give your body fuel and pretty much make you feel like a rock star. But not the kind of rock stars that do drugs.

In all seriousness, I love baking with bananas because they add moisture, act as a binder, and have enough flavor where you don’t need to add additional sugar.

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Jun
13

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.

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Jun
03

Well that title is certainly a mouthful. But guess what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I made you another delicious flourless treat without any weird ingredients. This time it includes two of my absolute favorite things: peanut butter AND nutella. OH BABY. And if you want to get really crazy, you can add bananas into that mix! But we’ll get to the various adaptations behind these bars in a bit. First I’d like to share some VERY exciting news with all of you!

I’ve taken a new job!

I will be joining General Mills as a full-time employee managing social for Gold Medal Flour and Bisquick. I’m completely thrilled as I have been working on and off with General Mills for the past two years in social media, thus it was only natural for me to move into a full-time role.

So what does this mean for Ambitious Kitchen?

You probably won’t notice a difference at all, other than my posts may be a little sporadic as I transition into my new role. Naturally you might hear me mention cereal and yogurt a bit more often (because I will be surrounded by it at work), but other than that I will continue to stay true to what I love: creating unique, (mostly) healthy recipes and sharing my passion for healthy living with all of you.

Again, thank you so much for your continued support of Ambitious Kitchen.

Note: Everyone has different opinions on the food brands they support; please know that Ambitious Kitchen is my personal food blog, and will continue to remain that way.

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May
22

It’s time to talk nutrition, clean eating and weight loss on Ambitious Kitchen. I’m sure you all know how important it is to feed your body with nourishing, good-for-you foods. You could run for an hour every single day but if you aren’t eating right, you’ll never see the results you desire. To top it all off, there are SO MANY diet out there; how do you even know what’s right? While I agree that it’s best to eat for your body type and what makes you feel good, I am also a huge advocate of clean eating.

So, what is clean eating? It’s basically a no-junk approach to your diet, plus it’s actually incredibly simple AND delicious! You don’t have to sacrifice the things you love, you just make alternative choices.

Here are some examples:

  • Roasted vegetables with herbs instead of chips — I roast veggies with a tiny bit of olive oil and an array of spices. YUM!
  • Sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes — Sweet potatoes are a complex carb, which means they take longer for your body to break down. I love topping mine with a tiny bit of almond butter or maple syrup.
  • Water instead of juice or a latte — Always reach for water. Most of the time when you think you’re hungry, you’re actually thirsty.
  • Nonfat plain Greek yogurt instead of sugar-packed ice cream — I could go on forever about the benefits of Greek yogurt and how I like to use it in recipes. My favorite swap is adding a packet of Truvia to Greek yogurt, then swirling in fresh fruit, pumpkin butter, peanut butter, or sometimes cocoa powder. Amazing!
  • Whole grain bread instead of white — If you must have bread, always go with whole grain or whole wheat. Read labels and watch out for breads with sugar added or high fructose corn syrup. Sprouted bread is great too.
  • Eggs instead of waffles every morning — It’s best to start your day off with a healthy breakfast. Think high protein and low sugar. Make a great choice to start the day, and you’re likely to stick with it.

So you’ve probably heard all of those before, right? Yes, eating clean is a conscious choice but it can also be a constant battle. Come on, are you kidding? I’m not perfect. I drool over Bon Appetit magazine and sometimes I just really crave an ice cream cone from McDonald’s. However, I live by the 80/20 rule which means most days I’m eating simple and clean. This makes me feel better, more confident, and in general, happier. I love the way my body feels when I’m eating healthy foods. Simply put, eating an apple is much more energizing then eating an Oreo. Wouldn’t you agree?

Now I’m not an expert or a nutritionist, I can only speak from my own experiences with weight gain/loss, dieting, and in general being a female. Obviously there’s a huge amount of pressure on women these days, and it’s easy to feel uncomfortable in your own skin. Most importantly, you also have to remember that only YOU are in control of your habits. If you want to make a change, you have to start somewhere. It’s certainly not going to be an easy road, but the good news is that little changes absolutely lead to BIG results!

If you’re not sure where to start on your road to clean eating and weight loss, here are my biggest tips:

  • Know how many calories you should be eating, then write down everything you eat. Yes, this is annoying but it will be a crucial part of your success. Monitoring what you are putting in your body is SO important. Most of the time we are unaware of how many calories that we’re actually consuming. I like to use the MyFitnessPal app on my phone, but you can also access it online!
  • Read nutrition labels. Nutrition labels are available to you for a reason. There are also serving sizes for a reason. Try to stick to these! Don’t make it a habit of purchasing foods with ingredients that you can’t pronounce.
  • Eliminate all of your ‘pleasure’ foods, but one (for a little bit anyway). This sounds difficult, and it is! Think of it more as a challenge. If you can take a look at your diet and see what foods you don’t need, then try to slowly eliminate them. I used to really love ice cream so every week I would go to Dairy Queen for a really big Reese’s Blizzard. I realized that this wasn’t making me feel good and that I didn’t really need it.  Other examples would be cookies, pastries, your morning latte, chips at lunch, sodas, extra cream in your coffee, that sweet ‘granola’ bar, sugary cereals, etc. Keep one of your pleasure foods for one day a week to enjoy, then don’t feel guilty about it. Moderation is key!
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare, AND eat out less! Having healthy foods available to you will make eating healthier a lot more easy. Grill a couple of chicken breasts, make healthy breakfast burritos with egg whites, prepare oatmeal and soups in your crockpot for the week. Do what fits your lifestyle best, but try eating at home as much as possible. You will save calories and money! Here’s an example grocery list I created for The Food Network.
  • Try your best to NOT eat for emotional reasons: I have done this countless times, and perhaps it’s personally my biggest obstacle. Know what your triggers are. Currently I’m reading a phenomenal book on emotional eating. It’s really helped me in managing my stress and understanding my eating habits and triggers.
  • Always eat breakfast. Breakfast is the best; it kickstarts your metabolism, and allows you to stay on track the rest of the day! I love yogurt with fruit and nuts, an egg white omelet, or oatmeal!
  • Watch your fat and carb intake. Don’t get me wrong, healthy fats are wonderful. I love coconut oil, avocados, and nuts; however, these foods are easy to go overboard with and the calories quickly add up. Just make sure you watch your serving sizes — especially with cheese! As for carbs, I love them! They give you energy and make you feel happy, but you don’t need to eat a 6-inch Subway sandwich to feel good all the time. Look for good carb sources such as fruits or whole grains like oatmeal and quinoa. Power foods!

I hope that you’ll find some of these tips useful. I’ve found them successful for myself, but I’m definitely not an expert. I’m only sharing my knowledge based on what I’ve read and experimented with in my own life. You can consider that a disclaimer.

Now I think we can all agree that snacking is so much fun and it’s really difficult not to reach for that candy bar at 3pm. But I’ve got a brand that I think you will absolutely love! Quest Nutrition makes protein bars that taste like candy bars. Seriously, I think if I could eat these bars every day for the rest of my life, I would. Yep, obsessed!

Recently Quest Nutrition reached out to me and kindly sent me a sample package of their protein bars. OH MY GOODNESS, I was shocked at how incredible they were. These bars are truly perfect for someone who either loves to work out, is watching their figure, or for a low carb lover.

So let me tell you a little bit about their bars: they’re gluten free, contain at least 15g of protein, are low-carb, and have no sugar is added. Yes, they are as amazing as they sound — I’m not kidding! For me these bars were wonderful before or after a workout or if I needed a quick breakfast in the morning. My favorite flavors are chocolate chip cookie dough, chocolate, peanut butter chocolate, vanilla almond, and strawberry cheesecake. And all of them taste incredible when microwaved for 15 seconds.

I can’t recommend them enough and lucky for you, Quest has agreed to sponsor a giveaway.

Here’s how it works: I will randomly selecting TWO winners who will receive a 12-sample pack of Quest Nutrition Bars.

How to enter:

  1. Like Quest Nutrition on Facebook.
  2. Leave a comment below and share either a tip for healthy eating/weight management or your personal weight loss story.

For additional entries: Each follow on one of social networks below will get you an additional entry, just make sure you let me know in the comments that you have done so.

  1. Like Ambitious Kitchen on Facebook
  2. Follow AmbitiousKitch on Twitter
  3. Follow me on Instagram
  4. Follow me on Pinterest

 

Giveaway will close at midnight EST on Sunday, May 26, 2013 and winner will be randomly chosen and notified via email on Monday, May 27, 2013. Good luck!

*Disclaimer: Quest has agreed to sponsor a giveaway for this post, but as always opinions are my own. I’m not an expert on health or nutrition; I just love sharing my experience.


May
15

Have you guys seen all of the new peanut butter flavors popping up? What a dream.

Wait, maybe that’s just a dream for me? You know I love my nut buttahhhhhhhhhh. Here’s a confession: I secretly want to have a pantry devoted to all of the nut butters I can hoard. (Probably a bad idea for my waistline, although I think my tastebuds would appreciate it very much.)

Did you know that today is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day?! You think I would have made you a cookie recipe but nope; you get good old healthy bran muffins.

In reality, they’re actually really, really good bran muffins! Come on, you know I wouldn’t lie to you.

Read more.

 
 
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