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!

 

Banana Bran Muffins (sugar free!)

I have a whole bag of wheat bran to use following last weekend’s bread baking adventure and am putting it to good use.

The thing about baking is, it typically involves bunch of ingredients I don’t often have on hand and don’t particularly want to eat like butter, sugar and milk.

Health-ifying recipes for your needs is easy enough when you’re fearless in the kitchen and know the right substitutions.

bananaAlmond milk for regular milk.

Flax seed for eggs.

Oil and mashed banana/apple sauce for butter.

Stevia for sugar.

The outcome is low calorie, satisfying and delicious.

banana bran muffins

Banana Bran Muffins (sugar free!)

makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups wheat bran
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp flax seed meal
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbs liquid egg whites
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp white stevia powder (Nunaturals brand – I have no idea about the taste of other brands)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix the flour, wheat bran, flax seed, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a large bowl until combined.
  • In a smaller bowl, mash the bananas.
  • Combine the milk, egg whites, vanilla, oil and bananas with the dry ingredients and stir until the batter comes together. It should be clumpy and thick.
  • Spoon the batter into your muffin tins all the way to the top – these won’t rise much.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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!

Ready, set, health!

Are you as happy as I am that it’s finally Friday?? I’ve had a busy week jam packed with all things health. Here are a few highlights of what I’ve been doing, reading and eating.

1. Learning everything I can about shin splints and how to prevent them. The most common factor? Runner’s World says it’s “too much, too soon.”

Here’s some more advice¬†from No Meat Athlete, Live, Laugh, Eat¬†and Gizmodo.

I’m not sure if any of their advice actually works yet, but I hopefully will be able to say that it does in a few weeks!

2. Foam rolling. HOLY COW does this hurt. I can get through a few minutes on my right leg, but foam rolling on my left leg (the one where I have shin splints, duh) pretty much feels like torture. My strategy has been to apply pressure until the moment right before I feel like I’m going to pass out from the pain.

Don’t know what foam rolling is? I’ve been learning about it from No Meat Athlete, Running Times, and¬†One Twenty Five.

3. Lifting weights…and actually enjoying it! While I do go to a trainer once a week, the goal is to get myself comfortable with performing strength workouts on my own. Strength training is important for about a bajillion reasons. The internet says so.

Currently I’m following (and LOVING) an old series from Carrots ‘n’ Cake….Carrots ‘n’ Weights! She puts together great sets of moves that are super simple and definitely do the job.

4. I can’t stop eating¬†chia seeds this week! I first discovered chia seeds last summer when I tried overnight oats. I have no air condition in my apartment, so having a cool breakfast ready for me in the morning is absolutely necessary.

There are many, many people who explain the benefits of chia seeds way better than I can. But I will give you my favorite way to eat them:

Vegan Banana Breakfast Pudding

In the bowl:

  • 1 banana mashed really well
  • 1 TBSP almond butter
  • 4 oz of almond milk
  • 1 TBSP of chia seeds (that’s 12 g for scale junkies like me)

Mix everything together, store in the fridge overnight and devour the next morning.

I also have grand plans to make these coconut flour chia jam power muffins over the weekend:

Source: powercakes.net via Jodi on Pinterest

 

5. True Orange. I’ve been struggling to stay hydrated this week. I usually have no problem guzzling down water, but lately I’ve been turned off by how bland it is. Enter True Orange. This stuff is good. It makes your water taste like orange juice and has no sugar or calories or fake sugar or weird chemicals. I’m in love.

Right now I’m headed off to a session with my trainer…and if he doesn’t kill my legs I plan to do a 2 mile run on the treadmill after followed by another painful session of foam rolling and foot flexing.

What have you done for your health this week??

Quick Coconut Shrimp Curry

I know I’ve struck gold with a recipe when my taste buds crave it night after night.

And that’s exactly how I feel about this super quick and super easy coconut curry shrimp dish.

It’s bold and flavorful with a hearty amount of spice and feels rich and creamy even though it contains only a teaspoon of oil and light coconut milk.

Quick Coconut Shrimp Curry

For one

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz of frozen, cooked shrimp
  • 1/3 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • For more spice, add in a few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

  • Thaw frozen shrimp following directions on the package.
  • In a pan just big enough to lay all the shrimp flat, heat the olive oil. Over low heat, add in all the ingredients and stir until the spices are well mixed and any clumps are gone. Lay each shrimp flat in the pan. Because these shrimp are already cooked, you are really just warming them. They can become tough and chewy if cooked too long, so only cook until hot, a minute or two on each side.
  • Remove the shrimp and cover to keep warm
  • Turn the heat on the pan all the way up and cook the remaining liquid, stirring constantly, until the sauce reduces and thickens.¬†Pour over the shrimp and enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon Coconut Flour Pancakes

I have to admit, the star of these pancakes is not the apple. Or the cinnamon.

It’s the subtle sweetness of the coconut milk.

A stroke of genius by Shannon at Nourishing Days, from where I adapted this recipe.

She calls her’s Fluffy Coconut Flour Pancakes.

And oh, are they ever.

Just the right balance of wet and dry ingredients gives these pancakes the perfect texture.

They flipped beautifully, which is the number one factor I look for in pancake recipes.

I kept them small, like she recommends, and eked out three pancakes in a single-fied version of her recipe, with a few changes.

Apple Cinnamon Coconut Flour Pancakes (inspired by Nourishing Days)

Note: this recipe has been adapted to serve one person. The batter will be THICK, not like regular pancake batter. Keep these babies small on the stove. The batter should be enough to make three SMALL pancakes. I left out the tablespoon of sweetener from her recipe because I thought the coconut milk and apple would make them sweet enough, and it did. To make up for the moisture, I added an extra 1/2 tablespoon of coconut milk, which you see reflected below. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Egg
  • 2 TBSP Coconut flour
  • 1/4 Cup + 1/2 TBSP light coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/4 Cup Grated apple (about half an apple)
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

Directions

  • Beat the egg with a whisk until it is frothy. Add in the coconut milk and vanilla and mix again.
  • Stir in the coconut flour, baking soda and cinnamon. Let the batter sit for a minute, it will be really thick! Then stir in the grated apple.
  • Heat a pan to about medium. Use a spoon to get the batter in the pan. For each pancake, I used about three spoonfulls of batter. You will not see bubbles form on top like regular pancakes. I flipped them when they slid around the pan with a little shake, after about 2-3 minutes.
  • These already have a great coconutty flavor, but I also topped with a few drizzles of honey. Get creative!

Hearty Green Lentil Soup

Two things I learned in the process of coming up with this dish:

1. Soup is ridiculously easy to make and takes barely any effort. I should make it more often.

2. Lentils are delicious when not cooked into mushy oblivion.

I never really liked lentils and now I clearly know why. I had no idea lentils could be anything other than a mushy grainy texture. These came out soft and chewy, and picked up all the flavors from the broth and vegetables.


While I made this soup on the weekend to take for lunch with me throughout the week, this could easily be made anytime. It only takes about 15 minutes of active prep and then you just let the soup do its thing, simmering away on the stove top.

Hearty Green Lentil Soup

serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried green lentils
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • 5 oz sliced baby portobello mushrooms
  • A pinch of each ground black pepper, dried oregano and dried parsley. You could add salt, but I think the vegetable broth adds enough on its own.

Directions

  • In a large pot, saute the onions and carrots in the olive oil until the onions are¬†translucent.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients. Let simmer for about an hour, stirring¬†occasionally, until the lentils are soft but not mushy. There should be some liquid left in the pot when you are done.

Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal

I know, I know fall is over.

I probably should be thinking about spring, but when I found this last can of pumpkin stashed away in the back of my cabinets, I couldn’t help but dream of the cool weather, colorful leaves and one of my favorite breakfasts.

This fall I totally jumped on the blogger bandwagon and put pumpkin in everything. 

I don’t regret it one bit! Because now I have this recipe to share with all of you.

And trust me, it is delicious.

Worth searching all the supermarkets to see if they have any cans of pumpkin left stashed on their shelves. Which may or may not be my plans for tomorrow.

Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal

serves one

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • A few shakes of cinnamon (or if you’re a cinnamon lover like me, LOTS)

Directions

  • Combine oats, milk, pumpkin and maple syrup in a pot over high heat. When the mixture starts to bubble, turn the heat way down. Stir frequently
  • About halfway through the cooking process (time will vary depending on oats) add the cinnamon and vanilla. Continue stirring until desired texture is reached. I like my oats really soupy!

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.

Indian-spiced red lentils with kale

I’m an impatient cook. Terrible at following directions. My recipes usually start with a base idea. A recipe that lights the spark.

And then the wheels start spinning.

“What if I added this…”

And

“I wonder how it would work with that….”

But the cooking happens through intuition.

By taste.

By smell.

By feel.

But not always by look, as is proved with this dish.

It’s not pretty. But, oh, is it tasty. And packed with good stuff.

Indian spiced red lentils with kale (Inspired by No Meat¬†Athlete’s¬†Red Lentil Curry)

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups red lentils

1 16 oz bag of frozen kale

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1 tbsp turmeric

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp curry powder

1 tsp (or more) crushed red pepper

salt to taste

Directions:

Bring 4 cups of water and the 1/2 cup of vegetable broth to boil. When the liquid is boiling, add the lentils, turmeric, chili powder, curry powder and salt. Reduce heat to a mild simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes. Stir occasionally.

This is where you can really see my impatience at work.

Add the frozen bag of kale. Break up any large chunks but do not stir into the lentils. Cover the pot so the kale can steam for about 10 minutes

When all the kale is soft, mix into the lentils below it and add in the red pepper flakes. I recommend adding less at first and more if you want it spicier.

Let the whole mixture simmer uncovered until you get the desired texture and most of the liquid is gone.

I poured mine into a big container to portion out for lunches during the week, but this can be served either as main course or side dish for dinner as well.

It’s the perfect meal for a day that looks like spring but still feels like winter! Light, but also warm and comforting.

Have a great Monday!