Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I have a new favorite cookie. I apologize to you and you and you.

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies
from Martha Stewart's Cookies
makes 2 dozen
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 oz good quality milk or semi-sweet chocolate, divided
  • 1/2 cup butter (I used EB vegan buttery sticks and it worked fine)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

I used semi-sweet chocolate because I wanted more of a dark chocolate cookie...and I couldn't have been more right on that choice. :)

Preheat oven to 325F. Chop 4 oz chocolate coarsely and place in the top of a double boiler (or bowl rested above boiling water) with the butter. Stir until melted. Set aside.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. 

Transfer chocolate to a large mixing bowl. Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until combined.

Slowly add in flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined. The consistency should be between brownie batter and cookie dough.

Chop remaining 4 oz chocolate into 1/4 inch chunks. Fold into batter.

This batter is much easier to scoop with a cookie scoop because it's really sticky...and pretty hard to roll into balls. And if you don't have sil-pats, definitely use parchment paper! You will need it later.

Bake until cookies are flat and surface begins to crack, about 15 minutes. Almost immediately, carefully transfer sil-pat or parchment paper to a cooling rack. Cookies are very, very soft right now but they need to stop baking so this is a must. Just be careful! :)

Nutritional information (per cookie): 158 calories, 7g fat (3.5g sat), 23.5g carbs (1.4g fiber), 2g protein

My oh my, these babies are DELICIOUS. I wasn't lying about having a new favorite cookie. I'm craving them as I type. They're really soft when they first come out but they harden a bit and become heavenly chewy.

Happy HUMP DAY everyone!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lentil Enchiladas

Last week was supposed to be the week of Peas...but then I tried a recipea that didn't turn out so well. And while this may sound like I'm too blinded by Mama Pea's greatness to criticize, I honestly don't think it was the recipe's fault.

I tried to make Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Ganache. Heaven, right?! BUT, I doubled the recipe and used a much larger pan, which in hindsight was a bad idea with a vegan blondie. I should have used two smaller pans to keep the consistency the same. Or just left them in the oven A LOT longer The flavor was spot on but the texture was completely gooey and under cooked. Then, I tried to make the frosting ridiculously fast. Silken tofu into hot, melted chocolate = no bueno. Not to mention I'd never used silken tofu before...does it need to be pressed or drained? I was confused.

However, it was only fitting that a recipea fail be followed with such an EPIC recipea win.

Lentil Enchiladas
from Peas and Thank You, the book
makes 6 flour enchiladas, 8 corn enchiladas

  • 1 can (30 oz) green enchilada sauce, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 jalepeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 Tb. chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tb. nutritional yeast
  • Mexican blend cheese and sliced olives, optional, for topping

The nutritional yeast isn't pictured because it was a last minute addition. I honestly don't think it made any flavor difference but I always aim to throw it in when I can because it is the only vegetarian source of B12. 

Preheat oven to 350F. Bring 1/3 can of enchilada sauce and water to boil. Add lentils, onion, and jalepeno. Cook over medium-low heat until liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. 

Stir in chopped cilantro and set aside. 

Warm tortillas by placing them in a damp paper towel and microwaving for 30 seconds. This makes them more pliable and easier to fill.

Pour 1/3 enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Divide lentil mixture into tortillas and fold. Place enchiladas in dish seam down and top with remaining sauce, cheese and olives, if wanted Bake for 20-25 minutes and serve with salsa and sour cream. 

Nutritional information (per enchilada, with flour tortillas): 329 calories, 7.7g fat (2g sat), 51g carbs (7g fiber), 9g protein

Nutritional information (per enchilada, with corn tortillas): 200 calories, 4.2g fat (1.7g sat), 32g carbs (5.3g fiber), 9 g protein

These. were. the bomb. For real. The lentils had such a creamy texture that it was like eating cheese enchiladas, with a ton more nutritional value! Lentils are ridiculously high in protein, fiber, folate and are a good source of iron. I loved how easy these were to put together, too. I kept trying to make sure I got all the ingredients because it didn't seem like much but simplicity is better in this recipe.

You have no idea how excited I am for leftovers. :)

Except for the fact that the microwave blew yesterday. So heating leftovers will be interesting...yes, I know it can be done in the oven but then I have to heat the apartment and it takes like 20 minutes. It's hard to wait for these babies. ;)

What's your favorite meal for leftovers?
Mine is definitely lasagna. No idea why, but second-day lasagna can easily beat first-day lasagna!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

FTW Wednesday

One of my favorite bloggers is Running off the Reese's. Don't know her? Go stalk her. You'll thank me.

Every Wednesday, she does a tirade called WTF Wednesday. Like everything on her blog, it's hilarious. A freakin ab workout.

But for some reason, I'm in a really good mood today (don't question the mood gods) and wanted to do something different. So I reversed it: FTW Wednesday.

I'm so freakin clever. (Not really but still.)

I haven't bitten my nails in over a week and a half. No one is as impressed with this nail growth as I am but whatever people. I've been biting my nails since I was two. 9 days is ahmazing. Small victories.

I have lost 17 lbs over the last 4 months. I'm only 2 lbs away from my original goal weight that I made 3 years ago. Two freakin pounds. How glorious does that sound?!

It was just like this. Except not really. (source)
After sitting in traffic for an hour and a half last night, I still went running and lifted weights. Rockstar motivation. No idea where it came from.

What's your FTW? Tell me something fabulous!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tofu Scramble Burritos

It's the week of PEAS! Luckily, though, none of the recipes actually have peas in them. I tried my first recipe from Peas and Thank You last night and loved it. Super easy, super delicious, and super healthy. Mama Pea knows her stuff.

Tofu Scramble Burritos
serves 2
adapted from Peas and Thank You
  • 1/2 block (16 oz) firm tofu (drained, pressed, and crumbled)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp lime juice (or lemon)
  • 1 Tb. soy sauce
  • 1 Tb. nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup diced tomato
  • 2 tsp diced onion
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 2 whole wheat tortillas

This was adapted because I accidentally grabbed a lime instead of a lemon, didn't halve the seasonings, and threw a can of black beans in at the last minute. I'm sure the scrambles are excellent just the way she wrote them, but I loved the way mine turned out too!

Crumble tofu into a bowl and mix with all seasonings (garlic powder through nutritional yeast). Let sit 10 minutes.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Spray with cooking spray and add chopped veggies (mushrooms through onion). Cook until tender, about 4-5 minutes.

Add tofu and cook until lightly browned and warmed, about 3-4 minutes.

Add black beans and cook until warm, about 1-2 minutes. Throw on a tortilla, top with salsa and serve!

Nutritional information (for 1/2): 463 calories, 11g fat (1.5g sat), 69g carbs (20.5g fiber), 33g protein

HOLY MOLY. One of the most filling meals I've ever had. And how could it not be? 20g fiber and over 30g protein...and still under 500 calories? Seriously. Who says vegetarians can't get enough protein?! :)

UPDATE: I have successfully added 2 cups fresh spinach with the chopped veggies and it's delicious!

The apartment is sloowly coming together. I made sure to get the kitchen together pretty quick so I could cook but everywhere else doesn't have as much motivation for me. ;)

No Bake Cookies

If you have never been subject to No Bake Cookies, I apologize in advance. These are easy to make, delicious, and so freakin addictive. Dieters, beware.

No Bake Cookies
makes 10-12 cookies
  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk (I've used both cow and soy and both tasted the has less calories, though)
  • 2 heaping Tb. cocoa powder*
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (I like chunky because of the addition of nuts but creamy works well too)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats

*Use a good quality cocoa powder. How do you know if it's good quality? It just tastes more like real chocolate when baked and it doesn't loose it's flavor while baking. There's a very popular brand out there that I used to use until I tried other brands and tasted the difference. I don't know why, because the ingredients are the same them but it just tastes better. Trader Joe's brand has an excellent variety with great flavor and is inexpensive. Score!

MEASURE OUT ALL INGREDIENTS PRIOR TO STARTING. This recipe moves fast and doesn't take long so there isn't much time to dawdle with measuring. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. 

Cut butter into small pieces and place in a large saucepan with sugar, milk, cocoa powder, and salt. 

Bring ingredients to a rolling boil while stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute and remove from heat. 

Add in vanilla and peanut butter. Stir until peanut butter is melted completely. Add in oats and combine.

Drop by large spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Let sit in the fridge for about an hour before enjoying. 

Nutritional information (per cookie): 200 calories, 8.5g fat (3.5g sat), 30g carbs (2.2g fiber), 4g protein
(This was calculated using soy milk and with a yield of 11 cookies)

These are not "health" cookies. But then again, when I want a cookie, I want a cookie. I don't want something made with mashed black beans instead of oil. Not to mention that homemade treats made with wholesome ingredients, however unhealthy they may be, are still healthier than any treat out of the vending machine. And taste better too. So next time you're tempted to go grab a nutrition-depleted (seriously, that's how they last so long!) twinkie from the vending machine, hold off 'til you get home. Then, if you're still craving something (even though, most of the time I forget...), make a batch of something without chemicals or artificial ingredients and enjoy it

I know that most people completely abstain from treats while trying to lose weight or lead a healthier lifestyle. But I truly believe that treats, when made with wholesome ingredients, are a part of a healthier lifestyle. And I never cut anything out unless I plan to cut it out for the rest of my life. Bread, pasta or cookies? Puhlease. I will reach my goal weight while eating these things so that I don't gain the weight back when these things are added back into my diet. 

I think the main problem that most people have with this concept is the phrase "in moderation". I HATE THIS PHRASE. Seriously. It grinds my bones. Does it make sense when used correctly? Yes. But most of the time it isn't used correctly. People think moderation is only one piece of cake a day instead of two. Four sodas a day instead of seven. For something to be an indulgence, it has to be done/eaten/experienced less often than not.

So, what do you think about the phrase "in moderation"? 

Do you cut out anything when trying to lose weight?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Clean out the Fridge" Bowls

Moving sucks.

Everything is in boxes, food choices are limited, eating utensils are paper and plastic, "routine" is nonexistent, to do lists are never-ending, and I'm constantly tired.  But in an effort to clean out the vegetables in my fridge and keep dinner in one pan, I discovered an easy, delicious meal. I may just have to do this on purpose next time.

"Clean out the Fridge" Bowls
serves 2
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 large zucchini squash
  • 2 small yellow squash
  • 6 mushrooms
  • 2 links veggie sausage (I used TJ's Sausageless Italian Sausage)
  • 1 Tb. olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning, divided
  • Salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 425F. Roast potatoes using 1.5 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp Italian seasoning and salt and pepper.

Chop zucchini, squash, and mushrooms. Slice sausage into bite size pieces.

Toss veggies and sausage with remaining 1.5 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp Italian seasoning and salt and pepper.

About 20 minutes into roasting the potatoes, add the veggies and sausage into the mix. Roast for an additional 20 minutes and serve.

Nutritional information (for 1/2): 418 calories, 14.5g fat (2g sat), 55g carbs (8.5g fiber), 22.5g protein

You would not believe how much food that is, either. Those are not the tiny little paper bowls. It's a very satisfying, filling, and refueling meal. Perfect for moving or any other hectic time!

It's been a while since I've updated y'all on my weight loss progress...

That's in just over two months, folks. BALLER. I updated the About Me page to include the first half of this year and there, I highly attribute my current weight loss success to weight lifting. And I cannot rave enough. I started small (about 25 lbs) and just keep adding weight and reps as I get stronger. Here is my current workout, just so you can get an idea of how simple it is.

This is a new approach to weight lifting for me since I've long been victim to the high reps, low weights jabber that women get to avoid "building muscle". I can honestly say that that never worked for me. I always had flab, never looked toned and never really felt stronger. While I have gained noticeable muscle, it doesn't look bad at all! Muscle looks different on women than it does men so those who are scared to pick weights in fear that they'll look like Arnold, have no fear!

Another thing I have noticed from changing the way I lift is that the weight is finally coming off in the right places. Even as I lost weight before, I never felt that it was actually making me look better, not just smaller.

In other news, Mama Pea showed up on my doorstep last night right as I was heading out for a run. Sadly, not the real-life woman, but in book form...which is still pretty cool!

I was a little excited. Since the move, I haven't had much time to completely absorb the book but I did thumb through it to find a margarita smoothie, jambalaya, and blackberry cinnamon rolls. OH. MY. PEAS. (buyitnow)

How do you feel about moving?
I would like to find just. one. person. who enjoys it. I know that's impossible. 

Do you lift weights or have a weight routine?
Tell me, tell me! I want to steal your ideas. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Peas and Thank You Doughballs

I am in full MOVING swing this week. I've packed 3/4 of the stuff into boxes. And I've had to open boxes a million times to find my shampoo, can opener, pizza pan, and other various essentials. Needless to say, the food in my kitchen has not been phenomenal lately. Or even photographed. But a couple weeks ago, I finally took my shot at some doughballs from one of my favorite blogs. And in honor of the book being released today (EEK!), I thought I'd share these lovelies.

Snickerdoodle Doughballs
from Peas and Thank You
makes about 24 doughballs
  • 3/4 cup vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance)
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar*
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1-3 tsp soymilk
  • Cinnamon and sugar to coat

*Organic sugar is important to note because it isn't as sweet as regular sugar.

Blend together margarine, sugars, salt, vanilla, flours, and cream of tartar. It may seem like it won't come together at first but just be patient.

The final dough will be crumbly but can form balls. Add milk as needed but be sure not to add too much. I added 2 tsp and that's what made my balls flatter than Mama Pea's.

Still beyond tasty, though. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on a prepared baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes.

Nutritional information (per doughball): 103 calories, 6g fat, 12g carbs, 1g protein

Freakin yum. The balls are nice and doughy and taste even more fabulous when cooled. Which, trust me, is almost impossible to let them do.

I am so. beyond. excited. for this to be on my doorstep tonight or tomorrow. I pre-ordered it in MARCH. Because I'm a stalker. BUY IT NOW.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Vegan Carrot Cake

Let me start with a disclaimer: vegan cakes are not healthier than non-vegan cakes. They may have less saturated fat from the dairy...but they're still cake.

Here's another one: putting vegetables in a cake does not make it acceptable to eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It's still cake.

Damn good cake.

Vegan Carrot Cake with Vegan Buttercream Frosting
from The Grit cookbook
serves 16
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tb. plus 2 tsp AP flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tb. brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tb. white sugar
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 10 oz crushed pineapple in juice (normally 1/2 a can)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance buttery sticks), softened
  • 16 oz confectioners' sugar (approx 3 cups)
  • 1-2 Tb. soymilk or water (soymilk is much creamier)

The measurements are a little wackadoo because the original measurements were already weird and then I halved it - why? because I don't need 3 giant layers of carrot cake in my fridge! ;)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans and dust with flour. The easiest way to shred 2 cups of carrots is with a food processor! I used 7-8 carrots and had some left over. 

Sift flour, baking soda, spices and salt together into a large mixing bowl. Add sugars and combine with the dry mixture.

Add all remaining ingredients (only 1 tsp vanilla extract, save the other tsp) and stir together thoroughly until mixture is uniform, using a rubber spatula to scrape down sides of bowl. If batter appears too thick, a small amount of additional water may be mixed in. I tried my best to show the optimal consistency in the picture; you're looking for a thickness in between regular cake and brownie batter. 

Divide batter between prepared pans.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or just until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pans and allow layers to cool completely before icing.

Which is hard, trust me.

To make frosting, blend vegan butter, confectioners' sugar, remaining tsp of vanilla extract, and 1 Tb. soymilk together until smooth. It won't seem like it will come together, but just it time. 

You may need to add another Tb. of milk, but don't go overboard. I always "play" with my icing spatula to make sure the spreading consistency is right. 

When cakes are cooled, or when you have had enough already, spread about 1/3 of the icing between the two layers. I do completely recommend waiting for cakes to completely cool before icing but it was already 11 PM and I was cranky. Bahaha.

Place the rest of the icing on top of the cake in a giant mound. Spread the icing out and down the sides. An icing spatula really comes in handy here. I'm normally not a unitasker tool type of person but this one is definitely worth it. And it normally looks much better when you're not falling asleep while icing. I challenge you to make an uglier cake.

But looks don't always matter, taste does. And this baby is a winner. You can garnish with chopped walnuts if you'd like. But that had to wait for the next day.

Nutritional information (for 1/16 slice): 370 calories, 18g fat (5g sat), 52g carbs (1.2g fiber), 2g protein

The one requirement I have for splurges: they have to taste worth it. And this cake was worth every. single. calorie. However, I recommend inviting 15 friends over to help you eat it. Or pass it out to your neighbors. Otherwise, you won't be able to resist.

What's your favorite cake?
Mine is definitely carrot cake. Although red velvet is a close second! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Caribbean Jerk Fries (and the final vote!)

These sound like mean fries, don't they? ;) But really, they're pretty freakin delicious. I tried this seasoning on both russet and sweet fries. Both were winners which makes the decision that much harder...

Jerk Seasoning
from Allrecipes database
makes 1/4 cup
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Combine. Super easy. Not to mention, I could use this in place of the cumin in my black bean burgers. DELICIOUS.  

Caribbean Jerk Fries
serves 2
  • 1/2 bag Alexia french fries*
  • Juice of one lime, about 2 tsp
  • 2 tsp jerk seasoning

*I used 1/2 of a bag because there's only two of can definitely use the whole bag if you're feeding more. Just be sure to double the seasoning too.

Toss fries with seasoning and lime juice. I find that seasonings tend to stick better when the fries have "thawed" for about 10 minutes.

Bake at 400F or 450F, depending on which fry you choose, for 20-25 minutes. (Check the bag!)

This is the end of my fry trials. I have to submit my final fry TOMORROW! Eeek. So, let's review....

Caribbean Jerk Fries - Sweet Waffle or Yukon Julienne??

Disclosure: Alexia Foods has provided me with product coupons and monetary compensation for my participation in this program.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Black Bean Burgers

Summer is all about burgers....which can be hard for vegetarians. I've had my share of veggie burgers. I've tried just about every. brand. possible. There have been some winners and some losers. I've also tried bean burgers at home a few times. They're cheaper (sometimes!) and less processed but they can also be frustrating and mushy. So, after much trial and error...I've learned a few things and found my favorite black bean burger recipe. It shouldn't be surprising that it's from Mama Pea. ;)

Black Bean Burgers
from Peas and Thank You
serves 4
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans
  • 1/3 c. onion, minced
  • 1/2 c. mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 c. oats, ground to a coarse texture
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tb. vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves)

Be sure not to grind your oats too much. You don't want a bread-crumb like powder; you want ground oats with some texture to them.  

Chop mushrooms, onion, and mince garlic.

Mash beans in a bowl until chunky. (Originally, I cheated and used a food processor. But this made the beans wayyy too mushy, so follow directions, unlike me.) Combine all ingredients. Let sit for at least an hour. 

After sitting, form 4 patties. Saute the patties in a skillet over medium heat, flipping half way through, about 7-10 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.

Nutritional information (for 1 burger, without bun and toppings): 172 calories, 1.7g fat (0.4g sat), 31g carbs (8.5g fiber), 9.3g protein

You'll never buy a box of black bean burgers again. It's easy, tastes delicious and is healthier. WIN!

  • Always let mixture set 1-2 hours before forming.
  • Don't mush beans too much or use a food processor (no matter how tempting!).
  • If possible, cook the day before and reheat - this gives the best results. For real!
  • Be sure to get your pan hot enough before putting the burgers in or they won't get that nice crust!
Have you ever made your own bean burgers? Any tips I missed?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"Everything" Fries

Sometimes you have to try some losers...

to find a winner.

"Everything" Fries
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (this should be around 3/4 tsp if fries aren't already salted)
  • 1 1/4 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 16 oz bag Alexia Oven Crinkles Classic frozen fries

By the way, these are the easiest fries ever.

Combine all spices. Toss fries in spices until well coated. It may seem like they won't stick but they will, just keep tossing and turning, continually grabbing the spices from the bottom of the bowl and putting them back on the fries.

Bake at 450F for 20-25 minutes. Viola

Crinkle russets being my favorite so far?! Now that's a surprise

My favorite thing about these fries? They go so. well. with ketchup. In fact, I ran out of ketchup and drove to Trader Joe's at 9 pm to get more. Because I'm insane like that. Wanna see a crazy picture of me with a ridiculously long fry? OF COURSE YOU DO.

You're welcome. And while I'm really enjoying having an excuse to eat a ridiculous amount of fries, I think eventually half a bag of fries every day will have an adverse effect on my waistline. Just maybe.

It's been really hot for my runs lately and I'm starting to sweat off every ounce of sunscreen I put on...which leads to the ever-so-coveted sports bra tan line. It's gorgeous, let me tell you. NOT. I bought new "sweatproof" sunscreen since mine was still from high school...yiiiikes. Can you tell I'm used to a treadmill for the summer?

Do you have a problem sweating off your sunscreen? What brand do you use?
I never have a problem with my face lotion, thank goodness, so I don't get it in my eyes or anything...but my neighbors think I'm kinda weird since I sweat milky white stuff. 

Any suggestions on what to call these fries?!
They remind me of an everything I thought it made sense. But something along the lines of Garlic Peppered fries would be more appropriate? FEEDBACK PLEASE. thank you. :)

For more information on Alexia's "Reinvent a Classic" program and to give more input (yes please!!), see this post.

Disclosure: Alexia Foods has provided me with product coupons and monetary compensation for my participation in this program.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chili Lime Sweet Potato Wedges

I was so excited to try my first idea for Alexia's "Reinvent a Classic" program. And of course my first try had to be with sweet potatoes...because I'm obsessed. Don't worry Yukon, you'll get your shot too. And I'll try to be fair. ;)

Chili Lime Sweet Potato Wedges
serves 2
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 Tb. lime juice
  • 2 Tb. olive oil
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin

To make wedges, I always choose really round potatoes without a lot of curves. 

Preheat oven to 450F. Chop off the ends to make flat surfaces. Cut each potato in half lengthwise.

Lay each half on one of the ends and cut in half. Cut each half into 3 wedges.  

Toss wedges in oil and lime juice. Coat with seasonings. (I sprinkled them on afterwards on the pan but that made the pan all black with excess don't do that. ;) lol)

Bake for 15 minutes. Flip wedges and bake an additional 10 minutes. You may get worried when they're "black" but it's not a bad black! It's the lime juice caramelizing. Which is definitely a good thing! ;)

I could definitely taste the lime juice and thought it was delicious! I used these babies as a "bed" for my black beans and corn, adding some sour cream and salsa...

In case you were wondering, black beans + sweet potatoes is one of my favorite. combinations. ever. And throwing everything into one big bowl may seem weird but it's ridiculously delicious! I'm a big fan of the one bowl concept

Are you a throw-everything-in-one bowl person or does it gross you out?

For more information on Alexia's "Reinvent a Classic" program and to give your input (yes please!!), see this post.

Disclosure: Alexia Foods has provided me with product coupons and monetary compensation for my participation in this program.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Let's Talk about Fries!

I am a huge fan of Alexia products. I think y'all know that from here. or here. or here. ;) So when they asked me to help "Reinvent a Classic", I jumped at the chance! Last year, Alexia asked consumers to choose the next new flavor for their all-natural fry line-up. After 20,000 votes, Lemon Parmesan Waffle fries will be available this fall!

This year, they've enlisted some of the top food bloggers to create new fry creations! Eeek! While I'm not sure about the "top food blogger" part, the pressure is on. Over the next four weeks, I'll be trying different combinations and trying to come up with the perfect fry! And there's way I could do this without y', let's talk about fries!

Answer carefully. (source)
What type of fry do you like best? Russet or sweet potato?
I'm definitely a sweet potato fry girl! I adore them. Buttt, there is always a time for regular fries, which tend to be more crunchy to me.

Does the cut (julienne, crinkle, waffle, wedge) actually make a difference? Which is your favorite?
It depends on my mood! I think the cut of the fry makes a texture my opinion, from crunchiest to softest: waffle, julienne, wedge, crinkle. But if I had to choose, waffle! They. are. just. so. cute.

Do you like simple or complex seasonings on your fries? Any ideas?
I prefer complex seasonings! Warm fries with some sea salt are delicious but I like my mouth to sing with flavor! ;) I have a feeling when those Lemon Parm fries come out, I'm gonna be a huge fan :)

What kinds of condiments do you use to dip fries?
I'm pretty standard: barbeque, ketchup, mustard. My parents are from the west so I grew up eating a lot of "fry sauce" which is a combo of ketchup and mayonnaise. I haven't used that in a while though...I know what I'll be doing next time! ;)

What about you?! 

Disclosure: Alexia Foods has provided me with product coupons and monetary compensation for my participation in this program.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Triple Tangent Tuesday

Welcome to I-ran-out-of-every-household-item-possible-and-have-no-money-to-spend-on-food week. This week the budget was tight so that dinners have been spaghetti. No joke. So since I have no food to show you, I thought I'd entertain you with three random things about myself which I'm seeing all over blogspace lately. Shall we?

1. I have to match, or at least coordinate, my underwear to my bra. It's a compulsion. I will literally go through an entire drawer of  perfectly good underwear to find a pair that matches. I just mean that if I have a pink bra, I can't wear blue panties. Weird? TMI?

2. I take 4 times as long to do a chore if I have music on. Which is the opposite of practically everyone I know. I don't know why I get so distracted with music on. If it's just the TV on, not a problem. But with headphones on, it takes an hour to load the dishwasher.

3. I daydream a lot more than most people do...I think. I'm not sure if this one is due to my job (sitting at a desk all day with periods of nothing to do) but I can't tell you how many times people have looked at me weird because I'm just staring off into the distance.

Tell me some random things about you! (that is if my random stuff hasn't scared you off...)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Easy Sides on MyPlate

I'm a big fan of one bowl meals. Casseroles, stir frys, pastas, salads...basically anything that puts the entire meal in one giant bowl. Sometimes, though, I find myself having a meal more comparable to the standard protein-veggies-grains concept. These are my favorite easy sides for those meals.

Roasted Potatoes
makes 2 servings
  • 2 medium potatoes, any kind, unpeeled (about 12 oz)
  • 1 Tb. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
You can use pretty much any type of potato you want. Reds roast really well but I've also used russets. My favorite? SWEET POTATOES! So nutritious and just melty after being roasted. And feel free to adjust the seasoning to your tastes and the potatoes you use.

Preheat oven to 400F. Quarter the potatoes and toss with olive oil and spices.

Pour into a prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Bake 20 minutes, remove the foil, and then back into the oven for an additional 20 minutes.

Nutritional information (for 1/2 with red potatoes): 200 calories, 4.6g fat (0.5g sat), 37g carbs (4g fiber), 4.5g protein

Honey Butter Carrots
makes 2 servings
from Sunny Anderson
  • 1/2 lb baby carrots (8 oz)
  • 1 Tb. butter (or Earth Balance)
  • 1 Tb. honey
  • 1 Tb. lemon juice

Cook the carrots in the microwave for 6 minutes with 1/4 cup water. Drain and add to skillet with butter, honey and lemon juice. Cook until carrots are glazed. SUPER EASY!

Nutritional information (for 1/2): 123 calories, 5.6g fat (1.8g sat), 19g carbs (2g fiber), 0.8g protein

A while back, Alexia sent me some great products to review. I actually had these absolutely FABULOUS mashed potatoes over a month ago (yikes!) but the "meat"loaf we had them with was much less than stellar so I was waiting to share them.

Alexia Mashed Red Potatoes
makes about 5 servings
  • 1 bag Alexia frozen Mashed Red Potatoes with Garlic and Parmesan
Mashed potatoes in the microwave? I know, I was skeptical too. But these are easy and yet heavenly.

Place bag in the microwave and microwave according to package directions. Pour into a bowl and stir. Seriously. that. easy. There are also directions on the bag for just making two servings. 

I topped mine with some nutritional yeast which was the perfect complement. (and served them with the carrots!) These were some of the best mashed potatoes I've ever had and I was so surprised that they came from the microwave! At first I thought that I wouldn't be buying these because we just don't have a need for 4-5 servings of mashed potatoes...but then I saw the directions for just two servings. These are perfect, easy, and so freakin delicious!

Nutritional information (for 1/2 cup): 170 calories, 6g fat (3.5g sat), 23g carbs (2g fiber), 4g protein 

Speaking of the standard protein-veggies-grains plate, I'm surprised I haven't talked about the new MyPlate that the USDA put out a couple weeks ago.

The new image comes with some guidelines and is supposed to be easier for consumers to make healthy choices.
  • Balance calories: enjoy food, eat less, avoid over-sized portions
  • Foods to increase: fruits and vegetables, half of your grains be whole grains, switch to low-fat or fat-free milk
  • Foods to reduce: sodium and sugary drinks
My opinion? It's more of the same. The USDA is constantly trying to simplify healthy eating. I don't think it should be simplified. I think people should learn to create the time to think about what they're eating. I'm sure some TV time could be sacrificed to plan healthy meals. Just like exercise, you have to make it a priority to eat healthily, not just expect it to be made easier. And where is exercise, by the way? At least that weird side pyramid had a guy running up the side. 

I also think that being non-specific is of no help to the average person with very little nutrition knowledge. Less calories, more fruit and vegetables...DUH. No mention of decreasing artificial ingredients or processed foods...or how not just half of your grains, the majority of your grains should be whole. It always seems to me that the USDA is always trying to walk that line between telling consumers what's really healthy and not pissing off big business. Probably because they are. 

What are some of your favorite side dishes?

What are your thoughts on the new MyPlate?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Whole Wheat Blueberry Banana Muffins

I told you I'm on a muffin craze. I love everything with whole wheat. And not just because it's much healthier for me, but because I truly appreciate that nutty, hearty taste. So when I saw muffins made with JUST whole wheat flour (instead of the normal 1/2 and 1/2 proportions), I was so excited to try them! Then Earthfare tossed me a free pint of blueberries a couple weeks ago and it was a done deal. :)

Whole Wheat Blueberry Banana Muffins
from Daily Garnish
makes 12 muffins
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour 
  • 1 Tb. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg or flax egg (1 Tb. ground flax with 3 Tb. water)
  • 1 very ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup milk (I used unsweetened soy)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

I originally made these with the flax egg. I like using flax eggs while baking because flax seeds are a complete protein packed with omega 3s, antioxidants, and both soluble and insoluble fiber! However, they were kind of dry (which could have been because my banana wasn't very ripe the first time) so this past weekend, I made them again with a real egg. There were definite textural differences. The vegan ones weren't bad, I just preferred the texture of the ones made with the egg. Up to you! (The pictures are the vegan version.)

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine ground flax and water and set aside (if using flax egg).

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugars.

Mash banana with a fork and combine with vanilla, milk, and egg. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and combine until just incorporated. Do not over mix!

Gently fold in blueberries. The first time I made these with fresh and the second time with frozen (not thawed!) and both worked well.

Divide batter into prepared muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes, or until tops are turning golden brown.

Nutritional information (for 1 vegan muffin): 134 calories, 1g fat (0.1g sat), 30g carbs (3.3g fiber), 3.5g protein

Nutritional information (for 1 regular muffin): 138 calories, 1g fat (0.3g sat), 30g carbs (3g fiber), 4g protein

As you can see, the nutritional information barely varies for the vegan one (flax egg) or the regular one (chicken egg). These muffins are tasty and filling, which is exactly what I look for in a muffin. My breakfasts have to fill me up until lunch or they don't make the cut! I preferred the frozen blueberries to the fresh ones only because they were smaller. That sounds weird, I know, but I prefer to have more, small blueberries in each muffin as opposed to a few, larger blueberries.

In workout news, I'm still truckin along with my long workouts. I've scaled back on the use of Jillian DVDs (not because I don't love her!) and amped up my time in the "weight room". The weight room is in the second bedroom and it has the weight bench in it. So I have switched to doing "heavy" weights three times a week. So far I'm benching approx 45 lbs (25 + the bar, which is about 20) and curling about 10 lbs (10 + the bar, which is probably only 1-2). Small, I know, but I love the way it makes me feel! Plus, it's so easy to see improvements when weight training. The reps become easier, or you can increase the weight. It's. just. so. rewarding.

SCORE! Since my post two weeks ago, that's 1.5 lbs a week...which I am extremely excited about! And the best part is noticing the changes in how my clothes fit. I can tell that the weight training is really helping there.  Still having trouble with abs though. I found a couple pilates ab workouts on YouTube that I'll be trying tonight. My main problem with abs is that they're really weak. But it seems that no matter how consistently I train or how hard I push myself, I'm never sore the next day. Which I know isn't everything but if I'm pushing it THAT hard, shouldn't I feel something if it's working??

Do you feel like it wasn't as good a workout when you can't "feel" it the next day?
It depends. If it's something I've been doing a while, like running, then I don't expect to feel it the next day. But if I amp up my speed or train an area that I'm not strong in (ABS!), then I do expect to feel it...and it's kinda disheartening when I don't (ABS!).

How have you been doing on your goals for the week/month?
I'm super proud with my progress so far! Hoping I can keep it up ;)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Edamame Fried Rice

I made a discovery over the weekend. Fried rice is ridiculously easy to make. And doesn't have to cost $8 for a box filled with oil and a ridiculous amount of salt. This was the absolute perfect weekend lunch.

Edamame Fried Rice
from Daily Garnish
serves 3
  • 1 cup dry brown rice, cooked
  • 2 Tb. sesame oil, divided
  • 1 cup shelled edamame
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 3-4 mushrooms, chopped*
  • 3 Tb. soy sauce
  • 1 egg

*These were a perfect last minute addition so they're not in the picture. I cooked my rice in the microwave, which is my favorite way - so easy! I put 1 cup dry brown rice and 2 cups water in a large microwave safe dish and cook for 10 minutes on high and 20 minutes on 50% power. You may have to mess with this depending on your microwave and rice. White rice used to only take 20 mins total and had to add the extra 10 mins when I switched over to brown.

Heat 1 Tb. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add brown rice and saute for about 5 minutes. This gives the rice that "fried rice" texture.

Add the carrots, mushrooms, and edamame. Cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir together leftover 1 Tb. oil and soy sauce in a small bowl. Add to pan and stir quickly to coat.

Here was my favorite part. It was so easy but it just made me feel cool. Bahahaha. Make a well in the center of your pan and crack the egg into it.

Scramble the egg with your spatula; it shouldn't take more than a minute to cook through. Toss completely and serve!

Nutritional information (for 1/3): 435 calories, 16g fat (2.3g sat), 58g carbs (6.5g fiber), 15.5g protein

How good was this? SO FREAKIN GOOD. Seriously. Loved it! It's already on the menu again. I added more soy sauce than the original recipe just because I really like soy sauce. But if you don't or have problems with salt, the original recipe only used 2 tablespoons. I added the mushrooms because I had a couple leftover in my fridge and they were the perfect addition. I was also so impressed on how quick this was. Make sure to get all your veggies chopped and stuff ready to go because the cooking moves quickly.

Now I know that edamame may seem like a weird vegetable to most...but it's actually just "immature" soybeans! Edamame is a complete protein, which means that it provides all of the amino acids, so it's a great way to make this into a well-rounded meal. Normally vegetable fried rice is just a high calorie side, but the edamame adds enough protein for it to stand alone. Plus, they taste great! Frozen works just fine in this recipe and can be found almost anywhere!

Have you ever tried edamame? 
While it's not my favorite just to sit and eat out of a bowl, I love incorporating it in recipes!

Have you ever won anything?
Shuesday (3 times!) or other things that require timing or knowledge...but if it requires just LUCK. Nope, ain't happenin. ;)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins

The one thing I have been baking lately? MUFFINS. I'm on a total muffin craze for weekend breakfasts.

Would you like me to assign someone to butter your muffin?
Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins
from Eating Clean Recipes
makes 12 muffins
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 Tb. canola oil
  • 1 cup mashed, ripe bananas*
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats

*I used 3 ripe bananas but the banana flavor could've been stronger so I think next time I'd do 4. The banana flavor intensified after cooling...muffins are always best after giving them a 30 minute rest, at least. But the husband is impatient when it comes to baked goods.  

Preheat oven to 400F and line muffin tins with paper cups. Lightly spray the cups with nonstick spray. I was out and skipped this step and the result was having to eat muffin remnants off the cups...

Place flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl and combine. In a separate bowl, mash bananas and then combine with egg, sugar, yogurt, oil, and vanilla.

Add to flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in nuts and oats. Divide evenly into muffin cups (they will be pretty full).

Bake for 20 minutes, or until tops are browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove and move to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Nutritional information (per muffin): 195 calories, 7.4g fat (0.7g sat), 32g carbs (4g fiber), 4g protein

CARBALICIOUS. Just how I like 'em. These muffins were super tasty and soo filling! I thought they could've been a bit more moist but adding another banana would help that.

Speaking of carbs, I know that long-time readers know of my hatred for low-carb diets. But after doing some research, I've learned that I naturally follow a "lower-carb" diet than most Americans (the average is about 300g per day!). And therefore, my healthy balance diet would be low carb to them. And yet, I've never shunned whole grain breads or high carb fruits. Not even for a week. Interesting, no?

Do I have to say it again? Read it!
Last weekend, I read Lou's chapter on nutrition by the pool and wanted to share it with everyone at the pool. Except most of them were drunk strangers and 6 year I didn't. But I'll share it with YOU! Lou emphasized that carbs are necessary (duh) and that with the right balance of food and exercise, the body can adapt and use those carbs instead of converting them straight to fat like all those low-carb sponsored studies tell you they do. He emphasized the importance of choosing the right carbs. Fruits and whole grains are excellent choices. But my favorite part? His suggestion of when to eat carbs and how this placement can affect how they're used. Carbs eaten right after exercise provide more energy than carbs eaten before, carbs eaten along with protein are absorbed before the protein which is more efficient and so on. I loved reading a book that cautions against too many carbs but also gives ways in which they can be used the most efficiently and repercussions of not having enough carbs in your diet.

Have I sold you on reading this book yet? No? Ok...well, my very, very favorite part was the repeated mantra of "what works for her may not work for you. Try it this way and if it doesn't work, tweak it until it does." Then add in all the workout plans with real weights....LOVE IT.  

What are your opinions on "low carb" diets? Have you ever tried one before?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spinach Feta Dip

I'm very sorry for my week long absence. It was a tough one last week. I was under the weather Monday, and I hate starting my week off sick. It was also finals week for my last class in my Associates degree so I was somewhat stressed about that. Then, on Thursday, my Grandmother passed away. I knew it was coming and had seen her for an entire week earlier this year but it still hit me pretty hard. Blogging was the last thing on my mind.

But I'm doing much better this week and I'm so excited to share one of the best dips ever! Ridiculously easy. Ridiculously good. I made this for a Bachelorette shower...unfortunately, we went out to eat right before so no one was really hungry. However, I got to enjoy this for lunch instead so I didn't mind. ;)

Spinach Feta Dip
adapted from Annie's Eats
makes 2 cups
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup organic plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup organic mayonnaise
  • 4 oz crumbled organic feta cheese
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 8 whole wheat pitas

Wanna know how easy this dip is? Three steps.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse garlic until chopped fine. Add in the Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, feta, and lemon zest.  Pulse until combined

Transfer to a large bowl and add in spinach (be sure that it is THAWED and DRAINED). Season with salt and pepper.

To make fresh pita chips, just split open the pitas and cut them into wedges. Place on a baking sheet and lightly spray with canola oil spray. Season with salt and pepper. Flip and repeat on opposite side.

Bake at 400F for 5 minutes. Flip and bake an additional 3-4 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Nutritional information (for 1/4 cup dip): 160 calories, 12.5g fat (2.5g sat), 4g carbs (0.5g fiber), 14g protein

(Nutritional information on the pita chips will vary depending on the pitas used and how much/what type of oil spray you use.)

This stuff is goood. As I mentioned before, I ended up having this for lunch. Dipped in both pita chips and baby carrots and they were both delicious. This dip would be a great addition to any crudité platter for summer. The lemon zest makes it taste so refreshing. I did let the dip sit in the fridge overnight, which makes the garlic and lemon flavors stronger. I was glad that I did this instead of adding more garlic or lemon, because I could barely taste either right after making it. I highly recommend that you make the pita chips yourself. It really doesn't take that long, it's easy, and they blow any packaged pita chips out of the water! The pita chips can also be made in advance, making this ideal for parties!

What's your favorite thing to take to summer parties?
I always look for something light and refreshing. Who wants to be weighed down when it's hot outside?! :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Meaty Green Bean Casserole

These are some of my favorite things: weddings, princesses, and lace. Yes, I was one of the crazies who woke up early just to watch the Royal Wedding. I wanted to wake up at 5 to watch the whole thing but my body just wasn't having it. So I woke up at 6 and tuned in just in time for the vows! And that dress. Did everyone else think it was just perfect in every way?! Simple, gorgeous, modern and completely royal.

Another one of my favorite things? Green Bean Casserole. Who says its only allowed on Thanksgiving? NOT ME.

Meaty Green Bean Casserole
adapted from Peas and Thank You
serves 2-3
  • 10 oz frozen green beans
  • 4 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 link Tofurky Italian sausage, sliced*
  • 4 oz water chestnuts, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used soy but I'm sure whatever milk you have will be fine)
  • 3 Tb. flour
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce, liquid aminos, or more soy sauce
  • 2 Tb. nutritional yeast
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 Tb. Earth Balance spread

*Tofurky sausages are surprisingly high in both calories (270) and protein (27g)! So I only used one link. However, if you're using a different sausage make sure to read the label to see how much you would need for calories and protein.

Cook the green beans according to package directions, but stop 2 minutes early and shock the beans in an ice water bath to stop the cooking.

Saute the sausage, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and garlic in a skillet over medium heat until browned and warm, about 5-6 minutes.

Meanwhile, process bread slices and Earth Balance in a food processor until fine crumbs form.

In a small bowl, thoroughly combine broth, milk, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and flour. Add to pan and heat until thickened and bubbly, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the nutritional yeast and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Turn off the heat and add the green beans.

Pour into a 2 qt casserole dish and top with bread crumb mixture. Bake at 425F for 20 minutes.

Nutritional information (for 1/3): 353 calories, 9.6g fat (1.6g sat), 52g carbs (12g fiber), 21g protein

Nutritional information (for 1/2): 530 calories, 14.5g fat (2.4g sat), 78g carbs (18.5g fiber), 32g protein

Mama Pea strikes again. Deeeeeelicious. I could drink that sauce. I'm a HUGE fan of green bean casserole and I loved having this as my main meal. The portion size depends on how much you want/how many calories you need.

Yesterday was my birthday (23...I'm gettin old, guys...). I made tofu tacos (which I have to tweak before posting) and had a massive pile of guacamole with some chips on the side. ;) Followed by Apple Pie a la Mode (one of my top 3 favorite desserts) and a game of Mario Party 8 on the Wii. Because I'm 4 years old inside.

Did you watch the Royal Wedding? What did you think of the dress??

What are your top 3 favorite desserts?
Molten Chocolate Cake, Apple Pie a la Mode, and Cheesecake ...and I think they're still my favorites because I don't have them that often, which makes them special!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Alexia Harvest Saute with Sausage

Yesterday was a very exciting day. One of my coworkers won a contest on a local radio station for a free limo lunch. So 6 of us ladies at work got to take a 2 hour lunch and ride to a free lunch in a limo. It was pretty sweet! I ate half a veggie quesadilla and tried my first fried pickles and mushrooms. I'm not a fan of fried food (I know, I'm weird) but those mushrooms were the BOMB. Just give them to me without the breading ;)

Then, back at work, we got our "Happy Administrative Professionals Day" baskets at work. I look forward to this all year long. Because I get these fabulous cookies. Once a year, I get to eat the entire sleeve of the best cookies ever and then pass the rest of the goodies out to my coworkers.

Thennn, I come home to a lovely package sitting on my doorstep from my friends at Alexia Foods! More samples for me to try and incorporate in recipes?! YES, PLEASE. I couldn't eat wait a day to try out the first product.

Alexia Harvest Saute with Sausage
serves 2
  • 1 bag Alexia Harvest Saute
  • 1 Tofurky Italian sausage link
  • 4 oz mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup frozen broccoli florets*

*A last minute addition so it's not in the picture but I noticed there was barely anything green so I needed to amp up the veggies!

Thaw the frozen olive oil in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes. Chop mushrooms and slice sausage.

Add oil to a skillet and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add sausage, mushrooms, harvest saute, and broccoli, if desired.

Saute until veggies are cooked and potatoes are browned, about 12 minutes.

Nutritional information (for 1/2): 395 calories, 23g fat (3g sat), 31g carbs (10 g fiber), 19.5g protein

So easy! So healthy! And not to mention so good! I looove easy and healthy meals. This was especially excellent for me because it used up ingredients I already had open in my fridge. I will be looking for these sautes to stock in my freezer for those nights where I just want something easy and nutritious. 

I loved the potatoes in this mix. Normally, frozen potatoes are gummy and don't brown well. These were not like that. They were firm, flavorful, and they browned easily in the skillet. My only complaint would be the lack of green beans. The ones that were there were crisp and perfect...but there weren't very many at all, which is why I added the broccoli. 

What else do I get to try?! Frozen mashed potatoes and a garlic baguette. I'm particularly excited to try the mashed potatoes; the concept fascinates me!

What are your favorite foods to have around for a fast meal?
Mine would have to be veggie sausage/burgers and frozen vegetables!

Disclosure: I received these products from Alexia Foods review. The opinions expressed and recipes used are my own. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Egg, Bean and Veggie Wrap

Whew. Weekends are the death of my healthy habits. The solution for too many sweets? EGGS and VEGGIES. They never fail to fill me up and get my blood sugar back down to normal levels.

Egg, Bean, and Veggie Wrap
based on Self magazine
serves 2
  • 3/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2/3 cup frozen peppers mix
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 2 cubes frozen cilantro (or 1/4 cup fresh, chopped)
  • 1/3 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 Tb. fresh lime juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1/4 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

Have I mentioned how much I love the Dorot frozen herbs? They can be hard to find but if you do, grab them! It's so hard for me to buy herbs because they go bad before I use them all...but frozen herbs? I can handle that! :)

In a large skillet, saute peppers and corn until cooked, about 4 minutes. Add beans, cilantro, and spices. Transfer to a bowl and squeeze fresh lime juice onto mixture.

Whisk eggs in a small bowl. Add to a heated skillet and cook until done. Season with salt and pepper

On one side of the tortilla, scoop half of bean and veggie mixture. Top with half eggs and 2 Tb. cheese followed by 2 Tb. salsa. Spread half of Greek yogurt on the other side. Roll tortilla, sealing with the yogurt side.

Nutritional information (1 wrap): 440 calories, 13g fat (4.5g sat), 54g carbs (12.5g fiber), 23g protein

This is pretty much a breakfast burrito. But there are some things that set this one apart. The corn (a surprising addition!), the fresh lime juice, and the greek yogurt. I love sour cream. But it can be hefty in calories. Plain greek yogurt is identical in flavor but less calories, no fat, and more protein!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Vegan Oatmeal Pancakes with Banana Syrup

HAPPY EARTH DAY! I'm really into Earth Day this year. I think it's because I've made strides over the past year to be more eco-friendly. I take my reusable bags everywhere. When I do get plastic or paper bags, I reuse them for litter boxes or housing potatoes. I wash 75% of laundry in cold water and have even cut down my time in the shower (partially to get more sleep but it still counts!). I am currently switching my cleaning products to natural ones. I am more mindful of leaving unnecessary lights on. It's all these little things that really can make a don't have to buy a solar powered house to help! :)

Vegan Oatmeal Pancakes
makes 8 pancakes
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup almond or soy milk (approx)
  • 1 Tb. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tb. flax seeds
  • 1 Tb. brown sugar
  • 2 Tb. Earth Balance, melted

If you don't have Earth Balance, you can use canola oil...although the EB is less calories and I love the buttery taste it gives the pancakes.

Add 1 Tb. vinegar to a large measuring cup. Fill with almond milk until it reaches 1 cup. Stir well. Soak oats in 3/4 cup of milk, reserving the rest. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Grind 1 Tb. flax seed in a coffee or spice grinder. In a small bowl, combine ground flax seed with 2 Tb. cold water. Let sit until 2-3 minutes. Add melted Earth Balance and brown sugar and combine.

Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add oats, the reserved milk, and the flax mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well.

The batter should be lumpy but well combined.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-heat and spray with cooking spray. Pour 1/3 cup of batter onto skillet and let cook for 2-3 minutes or until edges set up.

Flip pancake and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until fully cooked. Serve hot with banana syrup.

Nutritional information (per pancake): 123 calories, 4g fat (0.5g sat), 16g carbs (1.6g fiber), 3g protein

Banana Syrup
makes 1/2 cup syrup
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 3/4 cup unsifted powdered sugar
  • 1 Tb. lemon juice

Blend ingredients together until well combined. You may have to adjust the sugar to your sweetness, but keep in mind that more sugar increases the calories and carbs.

Nutritional information (for 2 Tb. syrup): 115 calories, 0.1g fat (0g sat), 30g carbs (1g fiber), 0.4g protein

I adore these pancakes. I really think you should try them this weekend. :) And the banana syrup is one of my childhood favorites. The original recipe calls for more than double the sugar though! It's crazy how much my taste buds have changed to where that would have been wayyyy too sweet for me.

shared them earlier on the blog but I really wanted to try them vegan. There's something so fascinating about vegan baking to me. I guess because it hasn't been normal to me during my life. Plus, I wanted pancakes, I was out of eggs, and was currently trying to find less gross ways to use up the almond milk. I've been trying out different soy milks and almond milk lately. The almond milk added a nice flavor to the pancakes but I hated it in cereal and in smoothies. And if you're wondering, I've fallen. in. love. with unsweetened soy milk! I love how becoming a vegetarian has made me so open to trying new foods. Because you have to get creative or vegetarianism could be really boring, I'm always looking for new things to try.

Are you open to trying new things when cooking or baking?

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