Jul
29

In my dream world I’d live on the beach, have a Whole Foods salad bar in my kitchen, and eat magical zero calorie banana cream pie every day for dessert.

I’d enjoy every sunrise with a continental breakfast and buy a German Shepard just because I think they’re really cute. I’d visit Machu Picchu, bungee jump daily, and make s’mores for a bedtime snack. I’d own a banana bread only bakery that serves wine. Oh and I certainly would NEVER spill wine on my white jeans (it happened this weekend).

But that’s all just in my dream world.

In real life I’m making big batches of pancakes on Sundays, chasing dogs around the neighborhood when they run away, and convincing myself to exercise daily.

Lately I’ve been testing out recipes. Usually on kids because they never lie to you; they either like it or they don’t.

Here’s Ava testing out a layered cake I made. I think I need to start renting kids for recipe testing.

Next week I’m headed out to California again! From the moment I first visited, I fell in love with it. And now I couldn’t be more excited! I’ll take a million photographs and update my about me page soon. There are so many things that I can’t wait to share with you.

For now, I made you some healthy pancakes. Wait… are they healthy if they have chocolate chips in them? That’s up to you! I try to keep them lower in calories by using egg whites, high protein greek yogurt, and quinoa. I also recommend using whole wheat white flour.

But first let’s just eat some feel-good super romantic and always delicious pancakes.

My only problem with pancakes? Deciding if I want blueberry or chocolate chip. Since I love both, I added them to my quinoa pancake batter. Yeah my brain is pretty weird; however, my taste buds are not. These are a gift from the universe.

Aren’t you a little intrigued? Maybe puzzled with the combination?

Whatever your thought, I assure you that these pancakes are a whole lot of deliciousness. Blueberry chocolate chip pancakes are kind of just an essential life experience. Something you need to try at least once.

Or a million times. Whatever!

Juicy, warm berries plus über creamy chocolate chips packed in a healthy little pancake. Take it over the top by serving them in pure maple syrup (or peanut butter!) and chasing with a glass of ice-cold milk.

It certainly is a little part of my dream world come true.

 

Blueberry Chocolate Chip Quinoa Pancakes

Makes 8-10 pancakes

1 cup cooked quinoa

3/4 cup all-purpose flour or white whole wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

3 large egg whites

1/4 cup plain or vanilla nonfat greek yogurt

1/2 cup milk of your choice (skim, soy, almond, coconut)

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2/3 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Fresh fruit or fruit preserves (optional), for serving

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together quinoa, flour, baking powder, and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg whites, yogurt, milk, and brown sugar until smooth. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and whisk to combine. Add vanilla and whisk again. Next gently fold in blueberries.
  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.
Notes

Jul
27

Thank goodness it’s Friday!

I have to admit that this week I was a little bummed. I don’t know if it’s because Bella cheated on Edward, or if it’s because I got rid of THIRTEEN pairs of shoes yesterday. Yes, THIRTEEN! It’s not like I ever wore them, but seriously getting rid of shoes is like throwing away memories.

So I took myself shoe shopping to make up for it.

What?

I’m a girl… it’s what we do. Anyway I feel much better now. I even made myself a cute little appetizer to start the weekend the right.

And I think that you just have to make these little pita pizzas too! They are my new favorite thing.

If you’ve never roasted berries before then now is the time to start; it’s so wonderful! The heat from the oven brings out the sugars and juice, giving you a melt in your mouth sweetness that will make you want to savor every single bite of the fruit.

Roasting berries had been on my bucket list for a while, but throwing them on a whole wheat pita and topping it with caramelized onion, mozzarella, and arugula? Completely spur of the moment and just a little bit heavenly.

I served these at a party and they disappeared in seconds!

Wearing new heels and making delicious pita pizzas with roasted berries.

Someone’s Friday just got better.

Roasted Balsamic Strawberry Cherry Pita Pizzas with Arugula

Serves 2-4

3 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided

1/4 teaspoon of salt

10 strawberries, hulled and quartered

10 dark red cherries, pitted and halved

3 or 4 whole wheat pitas (I use 100 calorie pitas)

1 cup of reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup arugula

Salt and pepper

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss strawberries and cherries in 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Spread on baking sheet and place in oven for 15 minutes.
  2. Heat medium saute pan over medium high heat and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add onions and stir frequently until onions begin to brown. Reduce heat to medium low and add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt. Cook 1 more minute and then remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Place whole wheat pitas on a nonstick baking sheet. Brush pitas with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Evenly distribute roasted strawberries and cherries, cheese, onions onto pitas. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees or until edges of pitas begin to turn golden brown.
  4. Top each pita with arugula and cut into triangles. Drizzle with addition balsamic vinegar and top with fresh black pepper and salt if desired.

 

 

 


Jul
25

I promised myself that this Summer I would try to set out some time for myself each day. Lately it’s enjoying a perfectly sweet cocktail while watching tangerine painted sunsets; those moments make me want to savor summer forever.

I’ve also discovered that one of my favorite things to do is to get a little crazy cooking in the kitchen. It’s like a competition with myself; how many dishes can I create in one day?

Last Sunday, I pulled five recipes out of my head and made it my mission to finish them all before the night was over. It’s quite possible that I looked like I was on some sort of drug; every inch of kitchen counter space was filled and my pants had about nine different stains on them. Dough flew, marinades were made, and I probably chopped about 23 vegetables; it was so much fun! And no, I’m not being sarcastic.

Sometimes I believe that good things come from chaos. Just take a look at this buttery, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth salmon.

Mmmm I lovvveeeeeee me some fish and the man behind the butcher counter at my local grocery store knows this for a fact. I have been stalking him for weeks asking when he was going to have walleye in (the Minnesota state fish). Apparently the waters have been too warm in Canada so they haven’t been able to net them. Don’t you worry though, I’ll continue to ask. I mean I’m practically there daily anyway.

Instead of walleye, he suggested I bake salmon for a sensational summer meal. Okay… he didn’t actually use the word sensational, but I felt like that’s what he was voicing to me. Anyway in an effort to make the salmon CRAZY GOOD, I marinated the life out of it with an asian inspired sweet teriyaki sauce.

HOLY. WHAT THE… it’s SO, SO GOOD. Even better than…

Well, you know I’m not sure what it’s better than. It’s just really, freaking good. The marinade is simple enough to make yourself and baking salmon is like baking chicken. No really, it is! Don’t be nervous about overcooking it, just at least give it a try for me. Pretty please?! I’ll bake you cookies if you do.

Oh, you’re convinced now? Well that was easy.

For ease, I purchased teriyaki sauce from the grocery store (soy sauce would also work), then whisked in olive oil, garlic, ginger and a little honey and brown sugar for sweetness. I poured it all over the salmon and marinated it until I got hypoglycemic hungry… like to the point of passing out. I wanted to eat my arm. What? Food is so much better when you’re ready to eat everything in sight.

Oh, and don’t you worry about that quinoa, because we’ve already discussed the ease of making it fluffy and delicious in 15 minutes or less. This time it’s cooked in a little bit of garlic salt for that bit of pizzaz. All you really need to do is stir-fry veggies and drink a little sangria… or guzzle it, I mean, whatever works best for you. I choose guzzle.

See? It’s not complicated or time consuming. And now you’ll have extra time to spend time with your honey. Or just in case your single, catch up on reality TV and pin things on Pinterest. For me? Grocery shopping and butcher stalking… totally normal!

Alright time for you to get a little crazy in the kitchen. Sensational salmon is calling your name.

Sesame Ginger Sweet Teriyaki Salmon with Garlic Quinoa Stir-fry
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner, Salmon, Fish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Delicious, healthy salmon has never tasted SO good.
Ingredients
  • For the Salmon & marinade:
  • 1 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound salmon
  • For Quinoa Stir-fry:
  • 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas or snow peas
  • Extras
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, if desired
  • extra soy or teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl whisk together the marinade ingredients: teriyaki sauce, olive oil, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, and honey. Place salmon in large ziploc bag and add marinade. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour. (I marinated my salmon in a baking pan because I ran out of ziploc bags.)
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Spray baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Remove salmon from ziploc bag and place skin side down. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until salmon easily flakes with fork. I found that 18 minutes was absolutely perfect. **See notes for additional information on cooking times.
  3. While salmon is cooking, prepare quinoa stir-fry. Bring 1 1/2 cups of water with garlic salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, add quinoa and cover; simmering until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand another 5-10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and set aside. While quinoa is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic, ginger, and sliced bell peppers; cook for 1-2 minutes. Add sugar snap peas and cook for 2 minutes more. Add quinoa to vegetables, then add salt and pepper to taste and red pepper flakes if desired.
  4. Spoon quinoa stir-fry evenly into 4 bowls or plates. Immediately place salmon on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cilantro. Glaze with extra teriyaki sauce. DIG IN!
Notes
Inspired by How Sweet Eat's Toasted Sesame Ginger Salmon
Salmon is very sensitive and can dry out easily if overcooked, so make sure you watch your fish! For every inch of thickness of the salmon, generally it takes about 10 minutes to cook. Usually salmon fillets are about 1 1/2 inches thick.
Preparing quinoa ahead of time makes this dish even easier; simply reheat quinoa and add to stir fried veggies.

Jul
20

I want to declare my love for this banana bread in some sort of outrageous way.

Hmmm maybe I should call Oprah and ask her if I can come jump on her couch like Tom Cruise did when he proclaimed his love for Katie Holmes?

Probably not a good idea. After all this bread is Scientology free and I don’t want people to think I’m nuts. Plus there’s absolutely no way to fall out of love with this bread.

We’ll just have to think of another way to tell the world about the best banana bread I’ve ever made.

In the case of banana breads, the saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ is completely true. I hadn’t baked banana bread in over a month and was dreaming of a unique recipe for you. Luckily the lovely people at Driscoll’s sent me some coupons for raspberries. I knew right away what had to happen. Raspberries and dark chocolate are a combination I can’t resist, but putting them into a banana bread was like an epiphany.

Since I’ve been trying to eat less wheat lately, I decided that I would use oat flour in my recipe (yes, it’s gluten-free). Can I just say WOW?! The oat flour brought a hearty, incredible flavor to the banana bread! Thankfully oatmeal is naturally high in fiber and protein, which means it’s not only good for you but also super filling. I surprised myself when I didn’t inhale the entire loaf right when it came out of the oven.

Oh and by the way, did you know that making your own oat flour is really easy? Simply throw rolled oats (oatmeal) into your blender and blend until they oats are ground into a fine flour. Done!

I don’t know if it’s biting into the sweet tartness from the raspberries and the creamy bittersweet notes of dark chocolate, or if it’s simply this whole oat flour thing going on, but this banana bread just tastes like heaven. I plan on falling in love with it all over again this weekend.

So here’s what I’d really like to happen: You make this bread and inhale it. Or share it. Just tell everyone you know about it!

Here’s why:  Raspberries are good for your health. And a little bit of dark chocolate won’t hurt you; it’s an antioxidant! There is also zero butter or oil in this recipe, minimal sugar, and the only dairy is from the two egg whites (if you want to make it vegan, try it without them)!

I freaking love everything about it. From the way it smells to the way it tastes. Completely devour-able.

Have a great weekend!

 

5.0 from 2 reviews
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Oatmeal Banana Bread
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Banana Bread, Healthy
Ingredients
  • About 3 cups oatmeal {gluten-free oats}
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup smashed raspberries
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. Make oat flour: Place oatmeal into blender and blend for 1-2 minutes until oatmeal resembles flour. You may need to stop blender and stir oats a couple of times to ensure that all oats have been blended.
  3. Measure out just 2 cups of the oat flour and place in a medium bowl. Whisk in baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  4. In a separate large bowl, beat mashed bananas, dark brown sugar, vanilla extract, and eggs for 1-2 minutes until the consistency is smooth and creamy. Slowly add in flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  5. Gently fold in raspberries and dark chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 10-15 minutes, then remove from pan and place on wire rack to finish cooling.
Notes
It typically takes 2 1/2-3 cups of oatmeal to make 2 cups of oat flour, so you may have some leftover. This recipe only calls for 2 cups.

To ensure recipe is gluten-free, use gluten-free oatmeal when making your oat flour


Jul
17

During college I was in love with a salad from a local restaurant. It was always refreshing, consistent, and filling! My best girlfriends and I ate it at least once a week — it was our favorite! I swear the waiters began to know us by name, but that MIGHT have been because we always took at least 10 of the free lollipops they set out in a large bucket. I don’t know why we thought free meant endless supply?

Anyway ordering dirty martinis and a chopped salad with no bacon and dressing on the side was our tradition.

I do have a little advice for you: always eat food before martinis. Seriously remember that.

So, what’s a chopped salad anyway?

It’s simply a salad that includes fresh produce and ingredients that have been ‘chopped’ (or just cut up to fairly equal size), then the salad is typically tossed together. Flavors can be adjusted and dressing may be used. Chopped salads are very popular in restaurants as they make the perfect lighter meal.

I know the question you want to ask me. And the answer is YES, you will look like Heidi Klum if you eat salads like this for dinner… every night… for the rest of your life.

No biggie.

To make the salad I started with fresh romaine hearts then I added protein: pulled chicken breast and chickpeas. The rest? Grilled sweet corn (or whatever you have on hand), fresh grape tomatoes, avocado, crumbled goat cheese, and fresh chopped cilantro. Then tossed (or drizzled) with any dressing you desire. I drizzled mine with my favorite BBQ sauce; it was heavenly.

Seriously this salad is just GOOD. It makes you feel good. In fact I’m starting to think it even makes good things happen. Just the other day I found $20 I never knew I had. Yesterday I made the best banana bread I have EVER made in my life. Today I had an amazing meeting! Oh, and I’ll be traveling again soon!

In any case, I need to eat more chopped salads. That way I can eat more cake.

You see how my brain thinks? It a vicious cycle.

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Healthy Chicken Chickpea Chopped Salad
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish, Salad, Lunch, Dinner
Prep time: 
Total time: 
A healthy, delicious salad that's super easy to whip up.
Ingredients
  • 2 large romaine hearts, washed and chopped
  • 1 cup pulled cooked chicken breast
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 3/4 cup sweet corn (I grilled mine)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, washed and chopped
  • 1 small avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup BBQ dressing, if desired
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl add lettuce, top with all ingredients except for avocado and BBQ dressing. Toss salad gently.
  2. Place into cold salad bowls. Garnish with diced avocado and drizzle with BBQ dressing if desired. Serve with low-fat corn tortilla strips.
Notes
To make vegan omit chicken and goat cheese. Add in roasted diced red peppers for more flavor. You may you any dressing you like. Sometimes I like adding 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice and find that I don't need any dressing at all.


Jul
13

I’ve always loved being around kids.  First of all, they’re hilarious. The questions they ask, the stories they come up with — they make me laugh and I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of their sweet personalities and those chubby cheeks.

During college I had a job as a nanny. In between my classes on sometimes on the weekends, I spent my time reading stories, playing hide and seek, going to the park, and of course… baking with kids.

It’s still one of my favorite things to do.

Meet the two adorable twins: Milly and Remy.

I can’t believe how old they are getting… they just turned 5!

Since I’m not a nanny anymore I don’t get to see them as much as I like, BUT when I do get to spend time with my two favorites I try to make it as special as possible.

Everytime we’re together we do two things: bake treats and have a ‘popcorn party’. The popcorn party is usually just a trick I use to get them to clean up their toys fast, get in PJs, and settle down for a movie and a bowl of popcorn. I tell them that we can never be late for the popcorn party and it works everytime!

Last week I attended a book signing for fellow food blogger Shaina Olmanson’s new cookbook Desserts in Jars and was sent home with  a jar full of monster cookie mix. Of course since it was Milly and Remy’s birthday, I knew we’d be baking them right away!

I wanted to share with you how much fun we had making these cookies. Remy even decided to rename them ‘dinosaur cookies’.

The cookies turned out perfect!

I’d say they’re definitely kid-approved.

Want your own Desserts in Jars cookbook? I’m giving a book away to one lucky reader!

From cakes and cookies to puddings and pies, this cookbook is full of inventive dessert ideas, all presented in gorgeous jars. Even if you aren’t entertaining, you can certainly use the recipes to impress your family or friends, as there are recipes for gift giving (I’m SO doing this for Christmas this year).

So how do you enter to win? Head on over and like my Facebook page, then leave a comment below and tell me what your favorite cookie is! I’ll randomly pick a winner next Friday and announce their name on my Facebook page.

BUT seriously even if you don’t have kids to bake with, these cookies are MAJORLY good. Feel free to switch up the candies and nuts; next time I’m using Reese’s Pieces!

Want to know the best part about these delicious cookies? They are flour free (you use oatmeal) and only called for two tablespoons of butter! I’m pretty certain you could get away without using the butter though. Let me know if you give it a try.

Have a great weekend!

Monster Cookies from Desserts in Jars

Makes 1 jar of cookie mix, to yield 24 large cookies

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cups rolled oats

3/4 cup candy-coated chocolate candies or chocolate chips

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Note: If you are making the cookies, see the additional ingredients below.

Directions

1. Mix together the granulated sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Pour into a 1-quart Mason Jar.

2. Top with a layer of half of the oats. Add the candies in a layer, and top with a layer of brown sugar. Top with a layer of the remaining oats and then a layer of walnuts. Seal with the lid, decorate the jar if you like, and attach a label with these instructions:

To make monster cookies

3/4 cup smooth or chunky peanut butter (not natural)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together the peanut butter, butter, vanilla. and eggs in a bowl. Add the contents of this jar. Form the dough into 2-inch balls and set on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the tops of the cookies begin to brown. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.


Jul
11

Live deliciously. Fight for the things you want the most. Take risks. Dream big. Wear red lipstick and heels every chance you get. Go on lots of first dates, but few second ones. Be weird. Drink too many margaritas every once in a while. Laugh until you get a 6-pack. Be yourself. Be unforgettable. Live in a big city. Exercise. Learn how to roast a chicken. Get to know your grandparents. Don’t be a slave to the ordinary. Bungee jump. Go on a vacation. Kiss a stranger.

How do we accomplish it all? Start with a healthy breakfast full of whole grains.

Sooooo remember when I was obsessed with making pies? And eating them?

I thought it would be better for my waistline if I stopped rolling out pie crust and started eating things like rainbow salads, better-for-you muffins, and loads of things made with quinoa. I don’t know if it’s the cuteness of this little nutty grain, or my general obsession for the taste, but quinoa is now featured in 72% of my weekly meals (not like I actually calculated or anything). It’s like when I was 18 and had this crazy obsession with Panera Bread’s veggie sandwich; I had it nearly every day for a month. That was weird.

However, I’m confident my love for quinoa isn’t just a phase I’m going through. It’s kind of like a real marriage. True dedication. I mean, blueberry quinoa pancakes and enchilada quinoa stuffed bell peppers… and now this breakfast quinoa? It’s time to step outside of the boxed mac & (neon) cheese or those Lean Cuisines that never fill you up.

Let’s make our lives a little more delicious.

Now my eating isn’t perfect, but I’ve realized that whole, clean foods in my diet make me happier and healthier. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and packed with protein which means it keeps me full for hours. But that isn’t the only reason I love it for breakfast: it only takes about 15 minutes to prepare and can be stored in the fridge for reheating throughout the week. Sometimes I throw it in individual portioned containers with different add-ins or flavor combinations and zap in the microwave when I’m in a rush. It’s incredibly convenient and easy!

Intimidated by quinoa? Don’t be afraid to try out new foods just because they’re unfamiliar. I came across some great tips on making your quinoa fluffy from Kathy that I’ve consistently followed; I always end up with a bowl of perfect fluffy quinoa to fill my belly.

So how do you cook quinoa?

First start with a 1:2 ratio–one part quinoa, two parts water. It’s important to rinse your quinoa to prevent a bitter taste. Place water and rinsed quinoa in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over high heat. (At this point I usually add in my spices or vanilla). Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand another 5-10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, add in fruit, nuts, milk, whatever your heart desires and serve!

I wanted to make my breakfast quinoa vegan so once I was done cooking it, I poured in a cup of coconut milk, added sliced bananas (which I actually grilled a bit), strawberries, toasted almonds and pecans, and sprinkled a bit unsweetened toasted coconut on top.

Of course, there are endless combinations to try with your breakfast quinoa including different berries, milks, nut butters, honey, and nuts. It’s just a feel good breakfast.

Nutty Strawberry Banana Breakfast Quinoa {Vegan & Gluten-Free}
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Strawberries, bananas, toasted nuts and are adding to a delicious gluten free and vegan breakfast quinoa.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups milk of your choice (to make vegan use coconut or almond milk), divided
  • 1 small banana, sliced
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, diced
  • 2 tablespoons sliced toasted almonds
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened toasted coconut
Instructions
  1. Place water and rinsed quinoa in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over high heat. Add cinnamon and vanilla and reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand another 5-10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork.
  2. Divide into two bowls, adding 3/4 cup of milk. Top each bowl with bananas, strawberries, toasted nuts, and unsweetened coconut. Serve immediately.
Notes
Optional add-ins: honey, agave nectar, peanut or almond butter, berry variety, mango, pineapple, apples, applesauce or toasted nuts If you'd like you can double the recipe and store the extra quinoa (without milk and toppings) in a container and place in fridge. Take out portions during the week, reheat, and add toppings.

Jul
08

I get really intense cravings.

Usually for peanut butter. Sometimes for a big banana milkshake. Always for a slice of pumpkin pie. But today, I wanted sweet potato fries more than anything else in the world… with a little somethin’ special: homemade honey mustard dipping sauce.

If you’re wondering what the combination of the two is like, it’s quite difficult to say. I mean, how do you explain magic when it happens?

Honeymustardoholic: Not a word, but probably will be soon. This stuff is addictive.

With only three ingredients this honey mustard is incredibly easy to throw together. All you need is low-fat mayo, honey, and dijon mustard. Whip the three together in a small bowl, then be prepared to make more. Why? Because you will be putting it on everything.

It’s unusually versatile: Slather it on a slice of bread and top with turkey, dunk your kids chicken nuggets in it (eating them yourself, obviously), dip some veggies in it (you’re so healthy!), or just do like I do and eat it by the spoonful (I like you).

Oh and now you want to know about these crispy, LOW-FAT sweet potato fries?

I’ve been making my own fries for a couple of years now, so I’ve experimented with several different methods. Here are five tips that I’d like to pass along to ensure a crispy, delicious baked sweet potato fry.

  1. Cut them thick. Cutting your fries into large slices about 1/2-3/4 inch thick will ensure a nice sweet interior that doesn’t dry up when baking.
  2. Use cornstarch to keep them crispy. Sweet potatoes are made up of a higher percentage of water compared to regular potatoes which causes them to sometimes get soggy when baked. Coating the fries with a little bit of cornstarch prevents this, as the cornstarch will form a crust on the outside of the fry. I got the corn starch idea from The Art of Doing Stuff. I’ve also thought about using flour, but I’m not sure it would have the same effect.
  3. Drizzle them with a little olive oil. We’re not fry baking them, so a lot of olive oil isn’t necessary. Usually 1 or 2 tablespoons is sufficient enough to crisp them up and add flavor.
  4. Give them room to breathe. Don’t allow your fries to touch on your baking sheet. You want the air to circulate around them so that they will bake and crisp evenly. You can use two baking sheets if you are making a lot of fries; be sure to rotate the sheet halfway through baking time.
  5. Turn them halfway through. We want crispy fries on all sides, not just one.
Hmm… what else could you possibly need to know about these?

Oh yeah, how about how to flavor them?

My favorite way is with a little bit of cinnamon and sea salt, but it’s up to you! If you like your sweet potato fries spicy, try adding cayenne pepper. Another great option is cumin and garlic powder for a little bit of mexican pizazz. I know a lot of people who prefer paprika as their seasoning of choice too. It’s fun experimenting with different flavors.

I love to make a giant batch of these because I never feel guilty about eating them. They are low in fat, and just so happen to be packed with vitamins and minerals! Technically sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat; they’re full of vitamin A, C, and E, plus fiber, potassium and beta carotene. They’re also a complex carbohydrate which means that they take longer for your body to break down, keeping you fuller, longer.  Read more about sweet potatoes and their nutritional value here.

The daily health information session is now over. Let’s get back to drooling.

Crispy, golden orange, salty-sweet, incredible, plus one million other delicious adjectives.

My goodness I love these fries… and I think you should make them.

But don’t you dare forget that dipping sauce!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Homemade Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Serves 2-4

For the fries

Cooking spray

2-4 large sweet potatoes, peeled if desired

1-2 tablespoons of corn starch

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

1/2 tablespoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (if desired) or your own spice combination

 

For the honey mustard dipping sauce

1/4 cup low-fat mayo (can also use fat-free or olive oil based)

1/4 cup dijon mustard (whole grain dijon is good too)

2 tablespoons honey

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.
  2. Cut your sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut the sweet potatoes evenly into even fry shapes and place into a large bowl.
  3. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch over the uncooked fries and use your hands to gently toss sweet potatoes and corn starch together to lightly coat the sweet potatoes. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the fries and toss with your hands, adding more if you feel the fries are not LIGHTLY coated. Sprinkle whatever spices you’d like onto the fries (I use sea salt and cinnamon) and gently toss again.
  4. Spread sweet potatoes evenly on your baking sheet(s), making sure that they aren’t touching each other. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip fries with a spatula, and bake for 10-15 minutes more or until the fries are golden brown and crispy. Do not overbake or they will burn. A little caramelization on the edges of the fries is good, but we don’t want black fries.
  5. To make the homemade honey mustard combine mayo and dijon mustard in a small bowl and mix until well combined and creamy. Slowly add in the honey and stir again until combined. Keep in refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

Notes

  • Preheating your baking sheet will also result in a crisper fry, but sometimes my fries cook quicker so just be aware of the timing.
  • I do not recommend using aluminum foil, as every time I do my fries come out soggy.
  • If you are making a smaller batch of fries, or if you cut them thinner, I recommend flipping them after 10 minutes and only baking for a total of 20 minutes.
  • Try my other five favorite dipping sauces for variety

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

 


Jul
01

Things I’ve learned in the past year:

1. Follow your heart. It’s the best thing you can do in life. You live once, so enjoy your life as it unfolds.

2. Embrace change. When we change, we grow and adapt. We become better. Don’t do something just because it’s comfortable. Instead, challenge yourself and learn from your failures.

3. Take chances. I moved across the country for a job and realized it wasn’t for me. I looked at what I wanted, and what I didn’t, then made a decision to pursue a different career. Without moving, I wouldn’t have figured that out. Taking chances means succeeding or learning something you didn’t before. And sometimes, it’s okay to fail.

4. Work hard. Damn hard. Success never comes easy. Dreams rarely turn into realities overnight. It’s an uphill climb full of doubts, but with enough determination, I believe anything is possible.

5. Baking cake is essential. No wait, THIS cake is essential. It has bananas, peanut butter and has a caramel topping to die for. It’s the stuff dreams are made of… or something like that anyway.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes a love a little reflection. Today we’ll reflect over this cake together. Join me?

Today, I slept in for the first time in what seems like forever. For brunch, I made vegan chocolate chip oatmeal cookie pancakes that I found on Pinterest. I’m so thankful I did because I had a smile on my face for the next 7 hours. What? Pancakes make me happy.

There’s one thing I’m more excited for this week: the 4th of July! It’s probably one of my favorite holidays. Laying under the sun all day and watching fireworks at night is simply the best.

And of course instead of giving you a standard with red, white, and blue dessert for the 4th of July, I thought that maybe you’d like to indulge in this cake instead.

While rummaging through recipes, I found a recipe for a Caramel-Walnut Upside Down Banana Cake in my Bon Appetit Desserts! book (a great dessert cookbook). I adapted it by adding peanut butter instead of more butter, and reducing the sugar (ripe bananas provide natural sweetness). Don’t let that fool you though, his cake is still ridiculously indulgent.

The caramel sauce is completely delicious, gooey, and warm when the cake comes out of the oven; I recommend serving the cake as soon as you are able to flip and cut into it. I thought about pairing it with a salted caramel ice cream, but they were out at the store so if you try it, let me know.

Please note that the caramel sauce tends to harden a bit once the cake it cooled, so don’t be afraid to warm up a slice in the microwave! You can even make the cake with out the caramel-walnut topping if your heart desires.

This is a cake that changes non-cake lovers into die hard fans. It can also be the cake you bring to your boyfriend’s mom. You could even bring this cake to every family gathering you ever have, they won’t mind.

It will deliver every single time.

My advice? Don’t think about the calories. Indulging every once in a while actually keeps you on track. And your taste buds will thank me later. I promise.

Come on you know you want to.

 

 

Caramel-Walnut Upside-Down Peanut Butter Banana Cake

Topping

Cooking spray

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons dark corn syrup

1/3 cup walnut halves or pieces

 

Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter (4 tablespoons), room temperature

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup very ripe mashed bananas (about 2-3 large bananas)

1/2 cup all-natural creamy peanut butter

3 tablespoons plain greek yogurt or sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup skim milk

 

Directions

  1. For topping: Spray 9-inch round cake pan (or larger cake pan) with nonstick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan; add dark corn syrup and brown sugar; bring to a boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and immediately stir in walnuts. Spread topping in cake pan.
  2. For cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until creamy. Next, add eggs 1 at a time; beating again until mixture is smooth and creamy. Add mashed bananas, peanut butter, yogurt (or sour cream), milk and vanilla; mixing again until well combined. Add in dry ingredients slowly until just combined. Add batter to cake pan.
  3. Bake cake until knife into center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool at least 15 minutes. To remove cake, gently cut around cake with a knife to loosen. Place plate or platter over pan. Holding pan and platter together, turn over, and remove pan. Scrape any extra caramel and walnuts on top of cake. Cool at least 15 minutes for topping to set. Serve warm with your favorite ice cream.

Notes

  • Adapted from Bon Appetit’s Desserts! Cookbook
  • Your baking time may be slightly longer. The original recipe called for 55 minutes of baking time, yet I found I only needed about 45
  • Make sure to place a baking sheet on the bottom rack of your oven; the caramel sauce may boil over the edges of your cake pan
  • This cake serves 6-8 people and is best served warm

 

 
 
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