Jun
19

Learn how to make homemade almond butter with vanilla, honey, and sea salt. This is better then the store bought version!

You guys know I’m a peanut butter lover for life. I mean whoever thought of grinding a nut into a magical spread is a FREAKING genius!

I literally slather peanut butter on everything in sight. I dream about it. I also wake up with peanut butter sandwiches next to my bed.

Yeah, don’t even ask.

Know what else I’m head over heels in love with? Homemade almond butter! It’s ridiculously smooth and perfect on muffins, pancakes, and in chickpea blondies. After making this vanilla bean honey almond butter, I just don’t know if I can go back to the plain PB.

Almond butter is packed with nutritional benefits too; this includes fiber, protein, and good-for-you fats. I’m not sure about you, but I kind of want to dive face first into the jar.

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Jun
13

Yes, the weekend is here. I should be thrilled, but to tell you the truth, I am sooooooo tired. The only thing I’m thrilled about is the chance to sleep in.

I don’t think I’ve recovered from last weekend yet, plus my new job started on Monday so I’ve been going, going, going. Maybe I’ll take the weekend to recover just a little bit. This is really just me explaining why I haven’t been posting as frequently.

But here’s something to look forward to: A brand new redesigned Ambitious Kitchen! Yes, each day we’ve been plugging away on my new site! I’m excited for it to launch, but let me tell you, it takes more work than you would think!

Anyway since I’ve been on the go lately, I’ve needed to make sure that all of my meals and snacks are prepared ahead of time.

I’m also kind of on this no-wheat experimentation diet, thus I’ve been eating high protein breakfasts  — including these awesome veggie-packed egg white muffins.

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Jun
11

Ummm hi. I’m recovering from a food coma — a deep and scary one. I guess that’s what happens when you attend food conferences in a city where there is magical Mexican food.

I can’t even think of anything except salad right now! I need it. Because apparently I think that it’s okay to eat ice cream sandwiches the size of my face, buttery muffins for breakfast, and ohhh I don’t know about a million peanut butter m&ms (give or take a few).

I’ll be paying for my decisions for the next week; however, with salads that include strawberries, goat cheese, quinoa, and crunchy sunflower seeds; I’m not sure I mind too much. Especially when it’s tossed in my absolute favorite lemon dressing.

I would have to say that this salad is absolutely perfect for summer. It’s slightly sweet, but oh so fresh! Often times I add chia or poppyseeds to the lemon dressing for a little fun crunch and extra nutrition. The goat cheese adds in a nice tang and along with the dressing, I found it to be irresistible! The sunflower seeds are different and lovely, but you can use pecans if you’d like.

Other optional add-ins that I’d suggest: chickpeas or pulled chicken breast. You can serve this over spinach and pack it for your weekly lunches.

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Jun
03

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

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

I’ve taken a new job!

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

So what does this mean for Ambitious Kitchen?

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

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

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

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May
31

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Ahhh the weekend is here. I’ve been craving it like chocolate.

Now it’s unusual for me to bring you a recipe on a Friday, but I just had to share this epic banana bread with you.

Strawberries + Coconut + Chia Seeds. Have you ever heard of such a lovely combination? It’s like a cozy little slice of heaven.

Speaking of things that need to be shared: I have some exciting news to tell you… but I have to hold off a bit (sorry!). Ugh keeping secrets is pretty difficult for me too! Look for a fun announcement very, very soon!

Anyway this banana bread is something I can share. In fact, it’s pretty major — beautiful even! And guess what? It’s also full of healthy ingredients that most certainly deserve a little special attention.

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May
28

First thing’s first: How was your Memorial Day Weekend? I hope you had the chance to relax and eat some delicious food.

I was able to finally catch The Great Gatsby in theaters and HOLY heaven… Leo! I don’t think he’s been that good looking since his Titanic days. Besides staring into Leo’s eyes via theater projection screen, I was able to accomplish a lot this weekend. I cleaned my room (MAJOR DEAL), booked some flights, spent time with my family, cooked, and instagramed my food like a freak.

Yes, I’m totally one of those people.

I wish I could say I instagrammed and ate this salmon this weekend, but that’s just not truth. I actually created this dish several months ago and completely forgot about it until recently when I was strolling through my photos. Please forgive me! How could I deny you this magical meal?

This salmon. Um, words really won’t do it justice, but I’ll try to describe it in the best way I know how: through super delicious adjectives (obviously) and dramatic descriptors.

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May
22

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

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

Here are some examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to enter:

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

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

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

 

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

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


May
20

Monday’s here! Don’t cry… I made you waffles.

Man, I love waffles. They remind me of when I used to go to the diner with my Dad; I always ordered the giant, crispy Belgian waffle with strawberries. Mmmmmm.

I’ve been hoping that waffles make an epic comeback for years. Instead I’ve watched cookies-stuffed-in-cookies, cupcakes, mini pies, and baked donuts take over. So I need you to get on the waffle train with me. If you need convincing, these waffles should do the trick.

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May
15

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

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

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

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

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May
13

How was your weekend?

Of course… mine was delicious! I took the day off Friday to spend time with my mom; we had a fun lunch at Panera and got pedis. Then I spent the better part of the afternoon getting organized in preparation for a move. I have come to the conclusion that will never like packing things or getting rid of clothes.

On Saturday I had a fun date night at Borough in Minneapolis (more to come on that another time).

Yesterday was Mother’s Day; my family celebrated with a light brunch and they also forced me to make my best apple crisp. Afterwards I got in a beautiful 6 mile run, then dabbled in the kitchen a bit with some cooking. Some days there’s nothing better than doing exactly what your passionate about, you know? Grocery store runs, organizing my recipes, and photographing the end result always makes me feel a bit accomplished.

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