Chocolate Protein Quinoa Cups

As you read this I’ll be on my way to Florida!

I’m spending the week relaxing on the beach with my sisters and the kiddos before my new job begins. I’m also escaping just as New Jersey gets hit with even more snow ūüôā

This weekend involved a lot of laying around and cleaning. I’m totally the type of person that needs to make sure everything is organized and tidy before I leave on vacation or start something new. I scrubbed down the kitchen, swept the floors, went through everything in my closet – best feeling ever!

On Saturday I was also able to make it to the park for a quick bout of fresh air. I didn’t stay long though – I was underdressed and it was freezing!

park

It felt good just to be outside and remember that spring is coming, albeit very slowly.

These dudes didn’t seem to mind the weather.

geese

There was also some successful kitchen experiments.

A few weeks ago I wrote that I started eating quinoa for breakfast. Previously,  I only enjoyed the grain in savory preparations,  but eating it for breakfast completely opened my mind to new possibilities. The following recipe is pretty hard to mess up, so feel free to experiment with whatever you have in the kitchen.

Chocolate Protein Quinoa Cups

Makes 14 regular sized ‘muffins’

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked (!!!)
  • 3 scoops chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee
  • 2/3 cup lite coconut milk
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp stevia

Directions

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare the quinoa using the directions on the package and start brewing some coffee, or use the leftovers from breakfast.
  3. ¬†In an effort to make as little mess as possible, throw all the ingredients into one giant bowl and stir it up! If the batter doesn’t start coming together, add more coffee.¬†
  4. Pour the gooey chocolate mixture into muffin tins (I recommend silicone baking cups!) and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until the tops of the muffins harden and the inside is no longer gooey.

chocolate protein quinoa cups

I usually loosely follow some kind of recipe when I cook, but this was my first time truly just winging it and the results were great! These not only taste chocolatey and delicious, but are packed with protein and whole grains. They make the perfect breakfasts, post workout snacks or even desert.

Happy Monday!

 

Red, White, and….Food!

Happy July 4th!

Are you sick of fireworks yet? My favorite fireworks experience has to be a few years ago when I was on a ferry from Delaware to New Jersey. I had no idea they were going to be set off, but right in the middle of the hour-long boat ride the sky lit up with explosions. It was a fun surprise and made the trip go a little bit faster.

This month Jenn at Peas and Crayons¬†has asked everyone participating in “What I ate Wednesday” to include some fitness along with the daily eats, so I thought I would talk about some of my fitness goals…or I guess lack of fitness goals. Because I honestly don’t have any right now.

I’ve been slacking on any kind of disciplined workouts besides taking long walks (3+ miles) every day. If I was a criminal, walking would be my M.O.¬†It’s my preferred exercise and really the only consistent exercise I’ve done throughout my weight loss.

That being said, I was on the ball with strength training for a while with twice-weekly iron pumping sessions at the gym and have kind of let that fall by the wayside. Weight training made a huge difference in how I felt about my body and I think it also sped up my metabolism, so I’m ready to kick that into high gear again.

For me, exercise is more about keeping my stress levels down and less about the effect it has on weight loss, so as long as I’m doing something to sweat on the regular, I don’t really worry about what or how intense it is.

Ya dig? ūüėČ

Onto the eats!

Breakfast:¬†More oatmeal. I’m not sure what’s going on. Usually when the temperature rises I stop craving oatmeal and start craving smoothies, but my taste buds apparently still think it’s winter, so oats it is! In the pot went 1 banana, 1/2 cup of oats, 12 g of flaxseed meal and a few shakes of cinnamon. I like my oats really soupy, so I added 1.5 cups of water and stirred until they were done.

I also put my coffee ice cubes to work this week with my lazy version of iced coffee. Here’s the secret: I make a giant pot of coffee at night. Half goes in the ice cube try and half goes in a mug. The ice cube tray goes in the freezer and the mug goes in the fridge and in the morning they all combine for iced coffee bliss. So easy and so¬†cheap!

Lunch:¬†I had the same salad I raved about last week, except I topped it with Trader Joe’s Hummus Dressing this week. Butter lettuce, baby carrots, almonds, avocado, and a 4 oz chicken breast. Perfection.

Snack:¬†A few handfuls of (un-pictured) granola taken from a coworker’s snack stash. Thanks Kipp, you do read my blog…right??? ūüôā

Dinner: Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna from the vegan food/family/wonderful blog Peas and Thank You. In true Jodster fashion, I used the recipe as more of a guide rather than exact road map, but it all came together in a delicious casserole. Despite the dish not actually having any noodles or mozzarella cheese or typical lasagna ingredients, the quinoa really soaked up all the flavors of a traditional lasagna. I would totally make this again and stick it under the category of comfort food.

It was easy to assemble and did not come out watery, which has been my biggest challenge when making no-noodle lasagnas. As I’m not vegan, I decided to go with sharp cheddar cheese instead of a vegan cheese and added much more than the 1/2 cup that Mama Pea suggests for extra gooey goodness.

After it came out of the oven, I divided the lasagna into six servings for a week of dinners. Healthy meal planning at its best.

Dessert:¬†Watermelon and a homemade coconut oil chocolate bar. The three-ingredient chocolate bars from Chocolate-Covered Katie turned out better than I could have ever imagined. It’s coconut-y. It’s¬†chocolate-y. It’s amazing and makes for the perfect dessert.

After my evening walk I also snacked on a few almonds before hitting the pillow.

Fun fact: I keep my almonds in a pickle jar in the fridge. The pickle jar is just because it was the only jar I had lying around, but keeping the nuts cold really helps them stay crisp and crunchy. Stale nuts are good for no one. You’re welcome.

 

Now…The Numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 166.5

This week: 164.5

Change: -2

Total loss: 78.5

Walk this way

Despite the heat here in New Jersey, my weekend included lots of walking!

On Saturday I decided to break up exercising¬†into short trips around my ‘hood. I’m lucky to live right off a main street and so was able to get my errands done while working up a sweat. Walking to Dunkin’ Donuts for iced coffee, the post office to mail my rent check, and the library to get some new chick-lit added up to about an hour of walking, but were all done in 10-minute increments – Success!

I ended up not not really liking the books I checked out though. Maybe I’m over chick-lit? I’m a quarter of the way into both and neither has really grabbed me.

On Sunday I was really craving a trip to the park, so I put on my headphones and listened to the NPR: TED Radio Hour podcast on “Food Matters” while getting in a 3-mile walk on the mostly shaded path of the¬†Wild Duck Pond. Even though it was relatively early in the day, I still ended up getting pretty sweaty.

Speaking of podcasts – they are a totally new discovery for me! I guess I always knew they existed, but didn’t realize how easily I could get them on my iPhone. I’m obsessed! I’ve been listening to NPR: TED Radio Hour casts, Freakonomics Radio and Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin – Loving them all!

What are your favorites?? I need recommendations!

I also got busy in the kitchen this weekend. My creations began with making coffee ice cubes – ¬†so simple yet so effective. I’m not sure that my upstairs neighbor appreciated the goodness of a homemade frappuccino (coffee ice cubes + chocolate protein powder + almond milk) at 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday, but I was very grateful that my Magic Bullet could grind up those suckers, albeit loudly.

The cooking continued with Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna from¬†Peas and Thank You. I used real cheese and beef broth, so it’s not vegan – but it’s really tasty! I’ll have pictures of my version on Wednesday, but for now feast your eyes on a much prettier lasagna courtesy of Mama Pea, and definitely not taken with an iPhone camera.

Source: peasandthankyou.com via Jodi on Pinterest

I’ve been dying to break into the jar of coconut oil I bought last week and Chocolate-Covered Katie’s three-ingredient chocolate was just the recipe to try for dessert.

To make the chocolate bar, you just mix together coconut oil, agave and unsweetened cocoa powder and then stick it in the freezer. I still can’t believe it worked. I guess it’s similar to a magic shell? I can’t wait to try different flavor combinations and mix-ins. This is some seriously fun chocolate.

 

I capped off my Sunday night with another walk. The temperature outside finally dropped below 90 degrees as the sun was setting…and it was actually cooler outside than in my apartment, so I laced up my sneakers for a 2-mile loop around my complex.

At the end of my street there is a giant Nabisco factory that always looks so epic as the sun is setting behind it. Not to mention that it coats all of Fair Lawn with the smell of fresh-baked cookies on the regular.

The town I grew up in was so hilly and there were no sidewalks, so I feel like I really appreciate the great location of my apartment now.

It may sound cheesy, but walking is a great way to interact with a new place on a really intimate level. You get to see a lot of things you might miss if you were driving.

There are so many areas of my life that getting healthy has affected in a really positive way – and the desire to simply take walks, instead of just sitting around in front of the TV on a hot day, is definitely up high on the list.

Just wanted to share ūüôā

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

 

Broccoli Cheddar Quinoa Casserole with Cauliflower Crumb Topping

This dish is kind of like the perfect storm.

It’s the culmination of food cravings, veggies about to go bad, and a return to a more vegetarian fare.

Loaded up with cheese and baked to perfection.

Let’s discuss details.

Remember when I went paleo? Lasted about a month, but, give or take a carb, I’m mostly back to my old ways of eating. I did learn a few things, though.

1. Thou shall not be afraid of fat. Avocados and nuts are now staples in my diet.

2. Thou shall make protein an important part of a meal. It’s the¬†key¬†to staying full!

3. Thou can use cauliflower to make anything. Really.

I had NO idea. Pizza crust, hummus, mashed potatoes, fritters, risotto, and the list goes on and on and on.

Every week I would buy a head of cauliflower, vowing to make something different with it, and every week I would just stick it on a tray and roast it. It was so good that way, I couldn’t bare to mask the vegetable as something else.

Anyway, over the last few weeks I’ve been cutting back on my meat consumption. I came to the conclusion that I’m not really that into meat, and with no food allergies, it seemed silly to be cutting anything out of my diet, like grains.

My poor box of quinoa had been sitting in my kitchen untouched for weeks due to the paleo influences, and I had been craving its subtle, nutty flavor.

Then another craving hit: cheese.

Thank the universe for google, because so many, many wonderful things popped up when I typed in “quinoa mac and cheese.”

I was pulling all of the ingredients out of the fridge to start cooking when I noticed some cauliflower on the verge of going bad.

And just like that, the dish came together.

I’m calling this a casserole rather than faux mac and cheese, because while it does satisfy my cheese craving, it really is more casserole-like than a creamy bowl of macaroni and cheese.

Wow – that was a long explanation!

Here we go:

Broccoli Cheddar Quinoa Casserole with Cauliflower Crumb Topping

(loosely based on this recipe from Kitchen with Kate)

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups uncooked¬†quinoa
  • 3 broccoli crowns
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk (any kind will do, I used Silk almond milk)
  • 2 cups chicken broth (optional – you can just use water if you want)
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower
  • 4 tsp grated parmesean cheese
  • Garlic powder – as much as you want!

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Break up the broccoli crowns and throw the florets into a big pot with about a cup of water on high heat. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the broccoli turns bright green and has softened. Then mix in the quinoa with 3 additional cups of liquid. I did 2 cups of chicken broth and one cup of water, but you can change this up as long as the ratio of quinoa to water stays the same. Let the liquid come to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, grate your cauliflower in a small bowl and toss with the parmesan cheese and garlic powder. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the eggs and milk. When the quinoa broccoli mixture is done, pour it into the bowl with the eggs and milk and add in all the cheese. Stir everything together so the cheese begins to melt a bit.
  • Transfer the whole thing into a casserole dish that has been greased with cooking spray. Sprinkle the grated cauliflower mixture on top and pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the cauliflower begins to brown on top.

I was really surprised at how thick this casserole came out! The eggs really help set the whole dish.

I can’t wait to try out more variations of this dish – it can definitely made with whatever you have lying around. Get creative! Try a different kind of cheese, throw in some different veggies, the possibilities are endless.

Bon Appetit!

Healthy comfort food: Vegan broccoli quinoa

I hope everyone is having a good weekend!

I’m not a big football fan, so instead of watching the game I decided to stir up something comforting, tasty and of course healthy!

This dish comes together quickly, in one pan, and packs a lot of flavor. I had a snacky day, so ended up just having a serving for dinner, but ideally this would be best served as a side.

Comforting Vegan Broccoli Quinoa

Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups and 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 broccoli crowns, chopped
  • 1/2 of an onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • salt + pepper

Directions:

  • In a large pan, saute onions, broccoli and garlic in the 1/4 cup of vegetable broth until the onions become¬†translucent and soften. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the quinoa and remaining vegetable broth. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cover.
  • When about half the liquid is gone, stir in the nutritional yeast. Cook until the quinoa is fluffy and there is no liquid left in the pan, stirring¬†occasionally.

This dish is about 240 calories per serving.