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.
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.
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.
I recently caught up with one of my best friends from college; we hadn’t seen each other in over a year! How does time pass that quickly? I’m not sure, but life does happen and as I’m hurling my way through my twenties, it has increasingly become more difficult to maintain the relationships I once had.
Anyway, Callie (pictured in the middle) and I lived together throughout college, which reminded me of our absurd obsession with oatmeal. WE LOVED IT. I can’t tell you how many times we ate it for both breakfast AND dinner; it was just SO filling, good-for-you, and comforting! Big bowls of cinnamon oatmeal bliss for dinner topped with anything we could find. I miss those days.
In fact, I MISS ALL OF MY FAVORITE COLLEGE GIRLS! Life slow down for just a minute please. At least so I can find the time to make some oatmeal.
I bet you’re hungry. I mean, it’s been a week since I’ve given you a recipe!
I’m not back from vacation just yet so I’m going to keep this short and sweet; I have to enjoy my last day in the sunshine!
Before I go, we must discuss these granola bars. They’re simple, delicious, and full of good-for-you ingredients and healthy fats to keep you satisfied. Plus they are incredibly easy to make!
First we toast the coconut, oats, and almonds in the oven.
Then simply mix honey, almond butter, a little coconut oil, vanilla and cinnamon in a saucepan to heat thoroughly. The wet ingredients are then added to the dry mixture and then tossed to combine. Easy!
Because of my general lack of time these days, I haven’t been in my kitchen in a week. The truth is, although I’d love to bring you recipes, I can’t bear myself to take pictures in the dark.
Don’t worry! I can’t be away for too long. Baking and cooking is in my soul, it’s just what I do. Making pies for hunnys. I’ll be back soon with some sweet delights and healthy bites. I’ve also been working on developing a Pinterest site, a tailored newsletter for all of you, plus Valentine’s day goodies!
Today, I’m having a guest blogger for the first time ever. She made Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookies. Crazy awesome, I know! I hope you enjoy her healthy recipe.
How many times will you drive in your car, laugh at a joke, or hold someone’s hand?
How many sunsets will you watch, thank you notes will you write, or hot chocolates will you drink?
How many times will you fall in love, kiss a stranger, or dance in front of the mirror?
How many lattes will you order, glasses of wine will you drink, or pizza will you eat?
How many nights will you live to remember?
AND How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop? Does anyone have the answer?
Truthfully, I always wondered as a kid how long it would take to get to the center. I think I tried it once but gave up after 100 licks and ate the pop in one bite. What delicious little tootsie roll pops they were though.
But really, do you ever wonder what life will be like in the future for you? What you’ll be doing? If you’ll have the same people in your life? The same opinions? The same choices? Who you’ll meet? Where you’ll live? What you’ll be known and remembered for?
Sometimes I think I should have gone to culinary school. Yet sometimes I don’t want to cook at all. Sometimes I wonder if I’m making the right choices; choosing the right path for myself. Sometimes I like going to movies and other times I like reading magazines. Sometimes I feel like oatmeal instead of pie or red velvet cupcakes instead of broccoli. Sometimes I want to run, sometimes I prefer yoga.
But sometimes I really want ice cream. Like big time cravings. It’s as though pints of ice cream dancing around my head. It was like that for a weeks, so I ran to Target and bought an ice cream maker. Now I’m content. No more wondering.
In fact, I’ve learned that giving up something isn’t as hard as it seems. Little changes create big results. That goes for anything, really.
….that’s exactly why they make frozen yogurt, right?
Tastes just like ice cream, except you can have more and it’s healthy for you! Simple swap.
Ooo lala, I know you just fell head over heels in love. Or you will after you try this.
I made this using raspberries, fat free greek yogurt, honey, and dark chocolate chips. It was creamy irresistible love at first bite. I can’t get enough. I’ll be making this again and again.
What’s your favorite ice cream/frozen yogurt flavor or brand? Please share in the comments and like me on Facebook here.