Jun
05

Do you know who this gorgeous woman is?

Well if you aren’t familiar, her name is Chris Freytag–a woman who I look up to for many reasons. Chris is a health and fitness expert, author and national speaker…. oh, and my group fitness instructor!

Chris has been teaching fitness classes and personal training for over 20 years and is currently a contributing editor for Prevention Magazine; the fitness contributor for the NBC affiliate in Minneapolis; and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the American Council on Exercise. Chris has authored 5 books; has created dozens of fitness DVD’s; and sells her signature line of healthy kitchen and fitness products on QVC.

Ummm… what hasn’t she done!? And course because she doesn’t have enough going on already (kidding here), I asked her to do a interview for my blog. I’m thrilled!

Yoga on the mountain 

If you’ve been reading Ambitious Kitchen, you know that I believe finding a passion you love is something incredibly important. I can’t emphasize that enough! Whether it’s yoga or cooking, I try to do something I’m passionate about every single day. Chris follows her passion for healthy living and exercising by encouraging others to do the same. I think it’s very inspiring.

Now besides cooking massive amounts of food and grocery shopping all the time, I thought you might find it interesting to get a glimpse into my health lifestyle a bit more. First off, I believe in being active and eating healthy (most of the time).  I try to work out 6 days a week which includes a mix of kickboxing, yoga, running, weight lifting, and cycling. Mixing my exercise routine up is important otherwise I get bored too easily. My favorite way to de-stress is to run, but I also love a relaxing mind-body vinyassa yoga. Some of my best work outs are the mix of kickboxing, plyometrics, and weight lifting — with good music obviously!

I especially love working out with others, I’ve found that it motivates me to push myself to work harder. The picture below is of my group fitness class.

I met Chris about a year ago at Lifetime Fitness in Minnesota while taking one of her cycling classes. Chris teaches various group fitness classes including: Hot Yoga, Cycling, Strike! (basically kickboxing with a bar weight), and Total Conditioning. She’s one of my favorite instructors not only because she encourages me to step outside my comfort zone and challenge my body, but because she is incredibly fun to work out with! 

After chatting with Chris, I realized we have a lot in common including a love for healthy living and pumpkin pie, but also sharing our passion with others. I asked Chris to put together some healthy living tips to share with all of you. These tips are some of my favorites because not only do I apply them to my personal life, but I believe that they can be beneficial to many of you–helping to make a huge difference in the way you think, exercise, and eat!

Chris Freytag’s Healthy Living Tips
1. Plan ahead.

Use Sundays as prep days to eat healthy all week. Get enough produce and staple needed for the week. Make double or triple of your meal, and freeze the extra for future use. Grill up extra chicken breasts and use them in salads and one-pot dishes for the rest of the week. Make a batch of brown rice and keep it in the fridge for easy lunches, burritos, and stir fry.

2. Aspire to eat clean.

Focus on eating things that come mostly from plants and trees, sometimes animals, and eat less from boxes, bags, and take-out containers. Try to get the majority of your daily calories from fresh fruits and vegetables, minimally processed whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts, seeds and lean meats and fish.  Clean eating minimizes the presence of preservatives, chemically altered fats, extra sodium and artificial ingredients.

3. Cook at home more.

We all know the portions served at restaurants are huge. Plus, you don’t always know what they are putting into your food. Escape the hidden calories and make your own food instead from fresh ingredients. Check out Chris’s recipe for her

4. Find a healthy substitute for your most tempting food.

I love ice cream, but most of the time I will substitute it with Greek yogurt sweetened with a little raw honey and I add berries and dark chocolate chips or walnuts.

5. Don’t  start and stop, just keep going!

One great way to kill your confidence is to constantly start and stop your fitness regimen. It’s common for people to get psyched up and dive in to working out only to drop it altogether when the craziness of life intervenes. If you start overly ambitious, you are less likely to stick with your routine. If exercise is new to you, start off slow and aim for a few workouts per week and then increase as you go.

 

In addition to being active Chris believes it’s important to eat healthy, but realizes that it can be tough; which is why Chris wrote a cookbook to help others.

Choose This! offers incredible, FUN, easy recipes that have kept me coming back for more. Whenever I want something quick and healthy to eat, I pull out this cookbook–even for dessert ideas! The book also offers calorie counts on recipes and nutritional information, which I find very appealing.

 

Now I drink A LOT of smoothies, so I knew this book was destined to be on my shelf when I saw an entire chapter devoted to them.

One of Chris’ favorite breakfast recipes happens to be her Green Machine Smoothie. It’s made with frozen bananas and pineapple, almond milk, coconut extract, kale and spinach. This smoothie has vitamins A and C, calcium, fiber, folic acid, magnesium and other nutrients–it’s now my go-to breakfast! You can find the recipe on her website here.

Now last but not least, I asked Chris five questions that were on my mind:

1. Where do you find your daily fitness inspiration?

  • Like Zig Zigler said, “People often tell me that motivation doesn’t last and I tell them that bathing doesn’t either. That’s why I recommend it daily”.  That’s why I love group fitness; it’s an appointment to exercise with a whole bunch of fun people and I can’t cancel. When I teach I class I try to inspire the participants to work hard and they also inspire me! I also meditate and do my yoga breathing daily for mental clarity and strength. I LOVE any motivational saying and I save them all on my computer and share them on Facebook with my fans.

2.What is your eating approach (Low carb, low sugar, balanced, etc)?

  • Eat for health, less calorie counting for myself and more about nourishing my body with real food. By eating more fruits, veggies and salads, etc.,  you naturally get less calories, less chemicals, and less preservatives. I try to avoid fake sugars and fake foods. I call myself a flexitarian, mostly vegetarian but I eat chicken occasionally and fish. I also try to eat meatless on Monday.

3. What advice do you have for women who are looking to lose weight or begin an exercise routine?

  • Lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action. Get started and begin with baby steps; strive for progress not perfection. It’s a journey so do be so in a rush for a quick fix. Start moving your body and start trying some healthy food options. The bottom line is in order to see a change you have to GET STARTED!!!  I also advice having a support system –whether friends, a spouse, a virtual group, a trainer–support is a key component to success.

4. What is the one thing you are the most proud of?

  • My children hands down are my most prized possession. No athletic race or product is more satisfying than seeing your children grow up and make good choices and be loving healthy adults.

5. What’s your favorite snack or treat?

  • Oh well I don’t have just one! I love sweets so I have to be careful, but I love to make healthy desserts. I love ice cream and pumpkin pie the most so one of my favorite indulgences is Arctic Zero Pumpkin Spice:  http://www.myarcticzero.com/.  It’s like a protein shake in ice cream form, and it satisfies my sweet tooth. I love to try healthy dessert recipes and find lots of good ones on the internet or from friends.  For snacks I eat homemade hummus and carrots and celery sticks.

 

Connect with Chris at www.chrisfreytag.com

Find her on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/ChrisFreytagpage

On Twitter @ChrisFreytag

What are your healthy living tips? Share in the comments below!


Jun
03

Google has the answer to everything.

I mean, have you ever wondered why old people love butterscotch candies so much? I did and I googled it… here is the answer. Please read the entire explanation.

I think the best part is the last sentence. Spot on, right?

I’ve discovered that my soul must be about 70 because some of my favorite sweets include butterscotch candies, Fig Newtons, peppermint patties, and Almond Joys. Simplicity is good in the candy world. The sweet and salty versions and contrasting textures that make up a good bar.

Almond joys are great examples: coconut, almonds, and dark chocolate. I mean, it’s kind of just simple perfection. Or perfect enough for me to want to put the ingredients on top of my ice cream anyway.

When you dream and work in the food world — you always want to experiment with what you create. To be wild and explorative makes things interesting. Adding bourbon to sauces and cookies, baking with brown butter, adding green chile to eggs. These things are totally what I’m about–keeping it fearless and sassy.

Like what about cake? Sometimes baking cakes can be complete experiments. No fear. Upside Down Salted Caramel Apple Pecan and dark chocolate raspberry are so much more fun–to eat AND make. In fact the other day I got some wonderful news regarding my Chocolate-Coconut and Pumpkin Marble Bundt Cake that won a recipe contest last fall. Nordic Ware contacted me and asked if they could use the recipe in their new cookbook coming out this Fall… of course I said yes! There’s even a chance it might make it on the cover.. yay!

Anyway my point is that applying more spontenaity to my actual life could be beneficial. These days I tell myself to pursue the projects I think I might enjoy. If they don’t work out, then it’s not meant to be. Right now, I’ve got A LOT of thing I’m working on… including a guest post from someone VERY special this week!

Opportunities are endless.

Can ice cream be endless too?

Without a doubt. Especially when it’s healthy and vegan. Although I will admit that this really isn’t ice cream — it’s a one ingredient guiltless summer treat. All you need is a couple of frozen bananas and a food processor (or a blender). Once the frozen banana are processed, they turn into a creamy treat that mimicks your favorite soft serve! Make sure you use ripe bananas to ensure sweetness and an irresistable texture. You’ll be surprised by this one.

I’ve even thought up some outrageous toppings to add. Head on over to the Food Network’s Healthy Eats and check it out!

 

Banana “Ice Cream” with Toasted Coconuts, Almonds, & Dark Chocolate

To make the banana ice cream:

Start with 2-4 ripe bananas. Peel your bananas and cut them into small chunks. Freeze for just 2-4 hours on a plate or in a plastic bag. Place into food processor and process (you can use a blender as well), making sure to scrape down the bowl when they stick. Again process the bananas until they create a creamy puree. Serve in a cold bowl or in a cone. Each banana will make ½ cup of “ice cream.”

To make Almond Joy version:

Add 2 tablespoons of toasted coconut, 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips, and 1 tablespoon of chopped almonds to a medium bowl. Sprinkle on top of banana ice cream.

 


May
31

Hello. Hiiiii. Hey. Long time no talk.

It’s been a week since the last time I blogged. I’ve missed you all. There really is not a good excuse for this silence other than the fact that I’ve been super busy lately and I’ve had a string of bad luck. I was buried in work, then my computer crashed. Fun times. I didn’t cook for a good five days because Memorial Day weekend was a total blur. I don’t have to explain why.

Poor excuses, but I hope you’ll get over it and read everything I’ve loved about May.

Good, let’s get started then.

First of all I’ve been cocktailing around a bit. Summer patios call for drinking outside.

This picture was taken inside so I guess my previous statement is sort of irrelevant. I did have a really good grapefruit martini though.

Fruit, it’s everywhere. Peach bbq sauce, mango salsa, and my favorite, strawberry buttercream. Somebody needs to have a farmer’s market party.

Gorgeous sunsets on the lake. Ahhh Minnesota summers.

Trader Joe’s creamy peanut butter! I’ve got an amazing recipe coming your way soon.

Seriously this peanut butter could be the love of my life, but then I remembered these pancakes. I have made them alllllllll month long. It kind of went like this: Dinner? Pancakes. Happy hour apps? Mini pancakes. What are you thinking about right now? Pancakes.

I happen to think making pancakes is incredibly romantic.

If you are wondering how flipping pancakes can be romantic, then clearly you need to get in your kitchen Sunday morning with your sweetie and share a plate. Put chocolate chips in them. Laugh. Drink a mimosa while you’re there. Just be with eachother and eat pancakes!

Seriously make it happen.

What about banana breads with crazyyyy additions.

Brown butter strawberry. Bacon peanut butter. Nutella. You name it and it’s going in my banana bread.

My super cute new running shoes with neon laces. I’m picking up running again now that it’s nearly summer.

I’m happy to report that I’m back up to 5 miles. Unfortunately I think my legs might fall off soon. Oh well.

Cooking with kids… it’s like the best thing ever! They’re so creative, it amazes me. Here is Benjamin making homemade baked chicken fingers.

Seriously get in the kitchen with your kids, you’ll have a blast. Promise.

My grandparents! Look how cute they are. Spending time with them is one of my favorite things in the world. My grandma and I went cooking crazy. I’m sharing her famous waffle recipe soon and I’ll have a recap of my trip. I know that was like two weeks ago… I need to get it together.

Besides all of this. I really want you to check out my favorite new artist Lana Del Ray. I’m obsessed. Go listen now!

As always, come chat with me on Twitter and Facebook. Of course I’ll be back soon with recipes.

 


May
23

 

There are many things I don’t quite understand.

Things that just don’t seem to make sense.

For example: why does the guy in my yoga class have a large suitcase tattooed across his chest? Is he a traveler? Is he a murderer? Did he get too drunk one night in Vegas? These are all things I’ve wondered, but I don’t know maybe he should just put on a shirt so I can stop thinking about the what ifs.

There are a couple more things that remain unclear to me: the fact that Panera serves a side of bread with soup that is in a bread bowl, people who put cheese on apple pies, Lindsay Lohan’s new face (it strangely resembles Joan Rivers), and why I haven’t done half  of the things on my 23 things list yet.

One last thing. How come I am hungry like allllll the time?

I don’t have answers to those questions.

But I do know how to make a killer turkey burger that squashes hunger pangs. With only 300 calories per serving. Ohhhh baby.

However I can’t decide what you’ll find more intriguing: a lean, moist turkey burger or homemade peach bbq sauce. Probably the drool-worthy sauce, right?

In an effort to get myself to stop drinking  going through bottles of Frank’s red-hot and siracha, I wanted to make something sweet, savory, and absolutely mind-blowing. Helllllooo peach bbq concoction! Quite frankly, it’s less complicated than my love life… which in reality means it isn’t complicated at all.

The sauce itself is both tangy and sweet; well deserving sauce of any burger out there. Generous spoonfuls on top makes for the most amazing, juicy flavorful bite you can imagine. I promise.

Now that I’ve got you excited about the sauce, let’s move on to cheese.

You see I’ve never been a cheese girl. At restaurants, I always ask the waiter to leave it off my salad; at home I never put it on my sandwich. But seriously someone should have told me how incredible goat cheese is. I now buy it 3x per week. Call me goat cheese girl, whatever… It’s lustful.

Tangy and almost cream cheese like, goat cheese turns out be sensational in a burger. Trader Joe’s even has some interesting combinations (yes, I stared at them for a good 20 minutes). I guess I’m sort of making it my life mission to put goat cheese in and on top of everything I eat. And trust me, I like really like to eat.

I had these burgers for lunch and dinner. Plus breakfast the next morning.

When did I become a carnivore? Uhhh apparently when I stuffed goat cheese in a burger and called it a day.

Are you kidding me? I even grilled a couple of peach slices and threw them on top. And then devoured them with spicy sweet potato fries.

Omgggggg this needs to happen again soon.

 Cause these burgers are just a thing I totally understand.

 

Goat Cheese Stuffed Turkey Burgers with Tangy Peach BBQ Sauce

 

For turkey burgers:

1 pound lean ground turkey

1 egg

1/3 cup onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon ketchup

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, plus more

2 oz goat cheese, divided into 4 equal squares

4 whole wheat (or low calorie) buns

 

For peach bbq sauce

olive oil

1/4 of a red onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon ketchup

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 8 0z can tomato sauce

1 cup peach preserves

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon molasses

2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon salt

a few dashes of hot sauce

freshly ground pepper

 

Directions

To make peach bbq sauce:

  1. Heat a splash of olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minutes. Reduce heat to low and add tomato paste and cumin; combining with the onion and garlic.
  2. Add the tomato sauce and all remaining ingredients. Stir until combined and heated through. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, or other seasonings as you see fit. Transfer to a blender or use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. Add more water, a tablespoon or two at a time, if you prefer a thinner sauce. Set aside until burgers are ready.

To make burgers:

  1. Combine turkey, egg, onion, minced garlic, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and black pepper in large bowl. Divide turkey into  equal sized rounds. Make 2 equal sized patties out of each round so you have 8 patties total. Sprinkle 4 of the patties with fresh ground black pepper and top with goat cheese; top with remaining patties, working the turkey around the edges to seal burgers closed. Season with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Grill or broil until cooked through, about 6 minutes per side.
  2. Once burgers are cooked, place in bun and add peach bbq sauce on top.
Notes
  • This recipe makes 4 burgers, but you could make smaller burgers. Just divide meat into 10 patties, and top with goat cheese.
  • The peach bbq sauce is adapted from The Kitchn’s Tangy and Sweet BBQ Sauce.
  • If you choose to bake the burgers, preheat oven to 400 degrees F and bake for 18-20 minutes or until no longer pink.
  • You can omit bbq sauce and top with condiment of your choice. Another option is to use store bought bbq sauce and/or top with grilled peaches.

 


May
20

Wayyy back before my obsession with yoga, shopping for shoes,  and the Food Network, I was a child who loved the following:

-barbies

-baking

-drawing pictures of ballerinas

-reading mystery books

My mom says that I was usually happiest when I was being creative… but she’s so wrong. There was something else that made me completely happy. Uhhh no, it wasn’t a margarita… or Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys. It was something much much better.

 

Ice cream! Had you guessed by the giant picture of the ice cream cone?

Back up. Let me just fill you in for a sec. I pretty much ate ice cream in any form possible.

Bubble gum push pops.

Neapolitan ice cream sandwiches.

Snickers ice cream bars.

Moose tracks.

Bowls of vanilla bean.

Sundaes. (I always asked for more hot fudge and peanuts.)

Peanut butter cup DQ Blizzards.

Wait… Banana split? Happy for weeks.

I mean seriously what’s better than ice cream when you’re a kid?

Absolutely NOTHING.

My favorite way to have ice cream was every Sunday with my Dad. We sort of had this ridiculous tradition which consisted of eating everything my Mom wouldn’t give me. So at the end of each weekend in the summer we’d go to Dairy Queen. I’d get a vanilla cone with sprinkles on it; sometimes even dipped in butterscotch or cherry. Mom always told Dad to stop bringing me, but we just laughed about it and kept showing up at the house with ice cream cones bigger than our faces.

I totally miss the days where I could eat anything I wanted. Last summer I looked up the calories in dipped cones at DQ; let’s just say I now reserve those for special days. When I’m craving ice cream, I opt for frozen yogurt and even make my own that tastes just as good as the real thing. It doesn’t require an ice cream maker (although you can use one) and it’s perfect for the single girl (or guy).

This fro-yo is made with plain nonfat greek yogurt (good for you), cocoa powder (antioxidant), and stevia (all natural sweetener). I have a berry and chocolate obsession so that’s what happened here.

All that on top of a sugar cone? #freakingdelicious

Yep I just hashtagged in this post. Time to go eat a cone.

Blackberry & Chocolate Greek Frozen Yogurt Cones (with or without an ice cream maker)

Makes 1 serving

1 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt

2 1/2 teaspoons cocoa powder

1 packed all natural sweetener (I used Truvia-it’s less bitter))

6 berries (blackberries or raspberries)

1 sugar cone

 

Directions (without an ice cream maker)

  1. Mix yogurt, cocoa powder, and sweetener together in a small bowl. Next scoop yogurt into an ice cube tray. Cover and place in freezer for at least an hour or two.
  2. One yogurt is frozen, remove from freezer and let it thaw out for a bit until it starts slightly melting or becoming creamy around the edges.
  3. Once yogurt is a bit thawed, remove from ice cube tray and place the yogurt in a blender. Blend for about 5-10 second or until yogurt is slightly creamy, scooping down the sides if needed. Add berries and scoop out of blender and immediately place in cone.

Notes

  • If you are using an ice cream maker, simply mix all ingredients together then transfer to your ice cream maker
  • Feel free to omit the berries and add sprinkles instead
  • This recipe would make great frozen yogurt pops

 


May
16

 

A few simple favorites.

Brown butter & sea salt chocolate chip cookies. An absolute sweet and salty favorite.

Getting my aggression out. Kickboxing, cycling, yoga is all good… plus then I can eat more of the above.

My new camera. It MIGHT  be more important to me than cookies. It’s certainly more important than a boyfriend.

Grandma’s buttermilk waffles. Crispy with a lovely fluffy texture. Don’t worry I snatched up the recipe to share.

Peanut butter and banana (and chocolate chips sometimes) sandwiches. Forget the jelly; I’m all about diversity.

Maxi dresses and big sunglasses. I live in this.

Smoothies made with coconut milk. It’s like I’m drinking a tropical vacation!

We all know I’m big into margaritas and all things spanish inspired. I eat spanish food more than anyone I know. And of course I love a good cocktail type beverage during the warm summer months.

Piña Coladas  are the official beverage of Puerto Rico (where my family is from), and I thought that I would share with you a lightened up version that you can slurp down whenever! Typically made with coconut creme, pineapple juice, and rum–these tropical beverages can be super high in calories. To make them lighter, I removed the coconut creme and replaced it with coconut milk, added frozen bananas, and said adios to the rum.

Buttttt where did the rum gooooo?

I’m all about the goodness of coconut milk; it’s creamy, rich, and full of nutrients. I’ve been putting it in cupcakes. I pour it over my oatmeal. I’d take a straight shot of it.

Look I don’t know where my heads at, but I do know that blending up this healthy smoothie made me feel like I was in Mexico on spring break. Until I realized I actually wasn’t… annnnd the fact that this drink didn’t actually have any alcoholic in it– which meant I still needed to go to yoga because I was completely capable.

I say after hitting the gym we add the rum and say hello to Summer!

Just a simple favorite.

Vegan Piña Colada Smoothies

1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple chunks
1 cup coconut milk (I like Silk coconut milk, unsweetened)
1 large frozen banana (chunks)
1/2 cup ice cubes

Directions

  1. Place pineapple chunks, banana, coconut milk, and ice cubes in blender. Puree until smooth and creamy. Pour into two glasses. Top with pineapple for garnish, whip cream (vegan if desired), or drizzle with honey.

Notes

  • For frozen banana chunks, simply cut up banana, place in small ziploc bag and place in freezer
  • Recipe would be great using coconut milk ice cream or yogurt instead of coconut milk

 

 


May
13

Recently the college I attended interviewed me for an article. I thought it was sweet, but also a little funny. In college I was the girl who baked way too much; I used to bring fresh homemade cookies and cupcakes to everyone. Once I even wore my “baking is sexy” t-shirt to a house party.

Totally screams date me, right?

Wrong. I am a nerd. A nerd who thinks it’s fun to make smores with raspberry jam, peanut butter, bananas, and chocolate. And then take pictures of them and write about how delicious they were.

Did you know that it takes an incredible amount of time to run a food blog? Reading about blogging platforms, learning about photography, figuring out how to work wordpress plugins; it’s time consuming! Somedays I could pull my hair out. I’ll spend four hours on a photoshoot with a bunch of different recipes and end up not writing about any of them. (Figuring out who to pawn off food to gets tricky.) But you know what? I can’t get wrapped up in trying to make everything perfect. I’m just happy that I get to share some of the food I create with readers like you. It’s a little magical to me.

Kinda like this super magical vegan rainbow asian edamame salad. It totally makes me feel like a pot of gold.

 

Another great thing about blogging is being sent products to try. Companies often ask me to do product reviews and/or giveaways on my site. Over the past 6 months I had been travelling for work so much that doing giveaways was fairly difficult… but that’s about to change! From new products to my favorite color lipstick, I’m going to be doing to fun giveaways. I’m totally excited and you better be too cause we’re starting today!

I’d like to share the revolutionary whole wheat Mara’s Pasta.

Mara’s pasta asked me to review their whole wheat pasta months ago and sent me samples. Recently I got around to using it in my healthy fresh veggie spring pasta with butternut squash sauce. I was completely impressed by the unique texture and flavor of the pasta. Some whole wheat pastas tend to taste like cardboard and be excessively grainy in texture, but not this pasta. Eating it was a great way to get more whole grains in my diet. In fact, Mara’s pasta is higher in protein and fiber than most other whole grain pastas, so it made a great meal after one of my workouts.

You won’t be able to find Mara’s pasta in most retail stores since they are a fairly new product, but you can certainly order it online (ummm yes, they ship for free!). Learn more about Mara’s Pasta on their website. You can also keep up to date through Facebook page and Twitter.

You know you want to sample these delicious pastas for yourself and you can! Mara’s pasta has kindly agreed to sponsor a giveaway where you will recieve a gift box full of Mara’s pasta. All you have to do is head over and like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter, then simply tell me (by leaving a post on my wall or tweeting me) what your favorite pasta dish is. Winner will be chosen randomly next week.

I hope you all enjoyed your Mother’s Day weekend!

 


May
11

Before we get into life updates let me just inform you that I’m writing to you from a Starbucks in the middle of the desert (also known as the state of New Mexico). I’m here visiting my grandparents for a week.

Do you know what one of my favorite things about my grandmother is? She knows how much I appreciate good food. She even had green chile chicken stew waiting for me when I got off the plane. How sweet is that? 

In fact she’s been going crazy in the kitchen: homemade whole wheat bread, corn muffins, raisin bran muffins, sopapillas, and much more. Going to the gym twice a day is necessary when she’s cooking. In fact we did Zumba together yesterday… then several Ludacris songs came on. Yeah I can’t even describe what a 77 year old doing Zumba to hip-hop looks like. She was literally bopping around to ‘how low can you go’. WHAT IS HAPPENING!

You don’t want that picture in your head. Let’s move on.

I’ve been writing over at the Food Network’s Healthyeats.com recently. I’m sharing recipes and creative inspiration from my kitchen. Check it out and get my fresh spring veggie pasta with butternut squash sauce recipe (pictured above), along with links to my other favorite pasta dishes.

Can I just say that I love the Food Network? I’m hoping one day I can pay for it as a single channel because it’s all I watch. I’m being completely serious by the way.

 

Okay are you ready for the big news?

I’ve been waiting to tell you this.

It’s totally exciting!

I’m moving to California!

Year round sunshine and surfing here I come.

Okay I have to run, but make your Mom a nice lemon pie for Mother’s Day. It’s a present she won’t forget.

Chat soon!


May
07

I made you a snack!

In cake form.

I know you just got super excited, right? Surprise, surprise, snack cakes make me jump up and down too. But shhhh, this snack cake is full of secrets. Healthy secrets that will make yo’ abs pop. (Because after eating brownies and cookies and pies for months, I figure that it’s time to lighten it up). This snack cake actually won’t get you a six-pack nor do I suggest you invent a new ‘bundt cake diet’; this recipe just uses minimal butter because I secretly despise Paula Deen.

I’m joking! I’ve got nothing against that woman. I just enjoy giving you healthier alternatives that make it possible to enjoy something a bit indulgent while still being able to button your skinny jeans.

I bring you a snack that you most certainly can eat if you’re having a-stressed-out-of-my-mind-and-I-NEED-CARBS-OR-SOMETHING-SWEET-NOW kind of day. At only about 200 calories per serving, I’d say this might even be a breakfast cake. Or you could turn it into muffins.

I know you’d high-five me if you could right now.

I hate to admit this, but I really lovelovelovelove making bundt cakes. They’re SO pretty and perfect for sharing. Wait… when did I turn 70? Must have been last year when I started drinking tea and obsessively grocery shopping.

Maybe when I’m actually 70, I’ll act like I’m 23. That would be interesting… yet incredibly scary at the same time.

Anyway I’ll give you my full attention and provide you the deets on this lemon and blackberry cake shenanigan that I dreamt up. It began after I stopped by the grocery store (shocker!) after the gym. I’d been wanting to bake something for over a week. I realized that I haven’t made a simple cake in quite sometime and remembered how beautiful my last bundt cake was. (Bragging rights because it won a contest.) I snatched up blackberries; well because they’re like the best berry ever, and picked out a couple of lemons. Once I got home I realized that I had a ton of greek yogurt that needed to be used; this was perfect because putting yogurt in cakes makes them SUPER moist and delightful. I used a combination of whole wheat and regular flour to make the texture dense and divine.

I’ll be honest. It tastes like a muffin cake that I want to live in.

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this cake! It’s pretty, snackable, and definitely worth baking up for Mother’s Day.

I can’t wait to surprise my Mom with this!

 

 

Lemon Blackberry Yogurt Bundt Cake

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 cup skim milk (or almond milk)

3/4 cup fat-free plain greek yogurt

1 pint of blackberries

zest of 1 lemon

 

Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze

4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk

 

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk both flours with baking powder and salt; set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, one at a time, beating well. Set aside.
  3. In separate bowl mix together milk and lemon juice; add in yogurt and stir to combine. Next, combine all wet ingredients together. Turn mixer on low-speed and slowly add flour mixture to wet ingredients; mixing until just combined.
  4. In a bowl, gently smash blackberries into smaller pieces and mix with the teaspoon of flour. Add your lemon zest and stir again. Coat a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan with cooking spray. Spread 1/4 of batter in prepared pan. Layer with blackberries. Spread another 1/4 of batter on top of blackberries. Continue to do this until all of the blackberries are gone.
  5. Bake cake on bottom rack of oven until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 40-50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes. Invert onto a rack; cool completely, top side up.
  6. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving, if desired. Or make the lemon cream cheese glaze. To make glaze combine lemon zest, cream cheese, 1 tablespoon milk, and powdered sugar in medium bowl. Drizzle over cake.
Makes 12 servings
 
Notes
  • I calculated this cake to be about 200 calories per serving with the frosting. Feel free to use your own calculations.
  • I do not recommend using ONLY whole wheat flour to make the cake.
  • Feel free to make these into muffins. They would be delicious!

 


May
02

Guess what Saturday is?

Cinco de Mayo!

Guess what we do?

Stuff our face with Mexican goodness and guzzle skinny margaritas. Duh.  

Don’t act like you’re not intrigued with breakfast enchiladas. Psssstt… they’re healthy too! The guys who taste tested these for me even approved, buuuuttttt I have a feeling Paula Deen would not. Sorry Paula, we’re saving our calories for margaritas.

Let’s be honest with eachother for a moment. There is no pretending that we won’t chase down everything with alcoholic beverages come Saturday. Margaritas with breakfast? Why not? it’s Cinco de Mayo and I love to pretend I’m Mexican! Come on, we know how this holiday works… and how painful Sunday is going to be.

Forget about hangovers. Focus on a breakfast that gets you ready for a day full of delicious chips and guac. Since Cinco de Mayo happens to be this Saturday (and because I prefer a week full of celebrations), I thought I’d share this with you a little early.

I had been thinking about breakfast enchiladas for quite sometime. More like dreaming about them every night. Anyway I decided to wrap the traditional huevos rancheros breakfast (eggs + beans) into tortillas and load them with delicious business (also known as red sauce and avocados). 

I’m really happy with that decision because I now want to eat these everyday for the rest of my life. And I can do that because they only have about 230 calories per enchilada. Yes!

Let me break it down for you.

Whole wheat tortillas (because we’re healthy whole grain eating people, duh).

Fluffy scrambled eggs (with mostly protein packed egg whites).

Refried black beans.

Jalapeno.

Cilantro.

Red peppers.

Low fat cheeeeeese.

Uhhhh can I just tell you that basically these enchiladas are made from the best stuff on earth?

This is the fun part. The delicious business.

We combine the things I dream about into the tortillas. Drizzle with LOTS of red sauce, and roll them up tight. Time to pop in the oven and get ready for a tastebud party in less than 30 minutes. 

To be honest, enchiladas never disappoint me. And these certainly wont disappoint you.

 

Skinny Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Enchiladas

6 whole wheat tortillas (I like low carb, or you could also use corn tortillas to make these gluten-free.)

2 whole eggs + 6 egg whites

1 can (16 oz) good red enchilada sauce

1 can (16 oz) refried black beans

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

3/4 cup low-fat cheese (I like colby jack or mexican)

Pinch of salt

Black pepper

1 tomato, diced

1/2 avocado, diced

6 tablespoons fat free sour cream

 

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine refried beans, diced red peppers, cilantro, and jalapeno together in a large bowl; set aside. In a medium bowl beat your eggs together. Coat large pan with non stick cooking spray and add your eggs. Let eggs set around the edges, and then begin to stir every few seconds, until eggs are barely set and still fluffy. Sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Place your tortillas on a microwave safe plate and microwave for about 20 seconds. Next, coat 11×7 inch pan with nonstick spray.
  3. Next fill each tortilla the following way: spread 1/4 cup of black bean mixture in the middle of each tortilla, add 2 heaping tablespoons of scrambled eggs, 1 heaping tablespoon of cheese, and 2 tablespoons of enchilada sauce. Roll each tortilla up one by one and place seam side down in the baking dish. You will end up with 6 tortillas.
  4. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the rolled tortillas, then sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake 25 minutes. Let stand a couple of minutes, then sprinkle with extra cilantro, tomatoes, and avocados. Add 1 tablespoon of sour cream on top if desired.

Serves 6 

Notes:

  • You could certainly use all egg whites if desired to cut more calories from the recipe
  • These would also be delicious with a green chili enchilada sauce
  • To make gluten-free, use corn tortillas
  • For another great, healthy enchilada recipe, check out my black bean chicken enchiladas

 

Nutrition facts

Calories 228
 
Total Fat 7g
Saturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Total Carbohydrate 31g
Dietary Fiber 5g
Sugars 2g
Protein 10g
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs.The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

* I used SweeterSpoon.com to calculate the nutritional information

 
 
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