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Chocolate Protein Cake

15 Jul

Oh, why hello there blog world!  I haven’t forgotten about you, even though it may appear that way.  Life has been rather busy as of late.  Between working full-time and planning a wedding, I have very little time (or brain power) for blogging.  But I’m happy to report that my efforts dedicated towards wedding planning have proved fruitful.  We’ve picked out the florist and cake designer we want to help us with our big day.  I’m thrilled with how the planning is going!

If you remember, in my last post I mentioned that I’m going to tackle the Insanity 60-day challenge.  I’m two weeks into it and I have to say I’m really enjoying it.  Now don’t get me wrong, the workouts are tough but I’ve found that my body is adapting rather quickly.  Each week I’ve completed each workout before work.  I expected to be tired throughout the day but the opposite has happened.  I actually have more energy!

Along with the workouts, I’ve been watching my diet closely.  I’m striving for a clean diet composed of vegetables, fruit, lean protein, and whole grain carbs.  So far it’s been easier than I thought.  It helps that I’ve been able to create some tasty afternoon treats.

This protein cake turned out much better than expected.  Seriously, each time I eat a piece I wonder how something so healthy could taste so good.  The cake is moist with a light crumb and the smallest amount of crunch from the chia seeds.  I love adding chia seeds to different recipes because of their numerous health benefits but if you don’t have any, then you can easily leave them out. 

Before I get to the recipe, I have to show you the stats.  You won’t believe it until you see it!

How awesome is that?!  If you’re looking for a tasty, yet filling and healthy treat, this “cake” is a great choice.

Chocolate Protein Cake
(makes 8 pieces)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup raw protein powder
  • 1/3 cup pea protein powder
  • 2 Tbsp turbinado sugar
  • 2 Tbsp dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 6 Tbsp chocolate almond butter (I used Justin’s.)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2/3 cup egg whites
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine protein powders, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking soda.  Mix throughly with a fork to remove all lumps.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy; about 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add almond butter, applesauce, and vanilla to protein powder mixture.  Mix until all ingredients are incorporated and the mixture forms a thick paste.
  5. Using a spatula, fold in egg whites.  The mixture should become runny and resemble brownie batter.  Fold in chia seeds until just combined.
  6. In a greased 8×8 pan, pour the mixture and spread it out so that it forms an even layer.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow to cool before cutting into bars or squares.

What’s your favorite afternoon snack?

Peanut Butter Protein Bars

5 Jul

Isn’t it always a shame when a three day weekend is over?  If I had my way, every weekend would be a three day weekend.  Who’s with me?!

This past weekend was particularly awesome.  The weekend included:

  • Three days with my man 🙂
  • A barbecue with friends
  • Delicious cookies
  • Video games (L.A. Noire, Dr. Mario, and Guitar Hero, to be specific)
  • Watching movies and reading a book
  • And, last but certainly not least, starting the Insanity 60-day challenge!

If you haven’t heard of Insanity, you can read more about it here.  In a nutshell, it involves intense cardiovascular endurance to help burn fat and tone muscle.  I’m three days in and I’m already sore, but I’m also really enjoying it.  It’s a tough workout but afterward I feel strong!  I’m excited to see what 60 days of Insanity can do for me 🙂

Along with the workouts, came a nutrition plan that outlines a diet focused on balancing lean protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.  Most of the meals that are suggested sound great and rather easy to prepare but as I was reviewing it I was struggling with the snack selections.  Only a few items seemed portable, which is important as I’ll be eating my snacks at work.  So, I decided to create my own protein bars as the perfect afternoon snack.

I have to admit that I’m thrilled with these bars!  I was hestiant because I just made some of it up but I shouldn’t have doubted myself.  These bars are fluffy, filling, and oh so peanut buttery.  And check out the stats:

I added some raisins for texture and taste but feel free to add whatever mix-ins you like; chocolate chips, peanuts, or rice cereal would all be great options.

I have a few ideas of other flavors, so if you’re not a peanut butter lover, stay tuned.  Hopefully I’ll be able to find something that suits everyone!

Peanut Butter Protein Bars
(adapted from Peas and Thank You)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup protein powder (I used 1/4 cup Raw Protein & 1/4 cup Pea Protein.)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup flaxmeal
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (or 4 egg whites)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine protein powder(s), ground flaxseeds, sugar, and baking soda.  Slowly add peanut butter and vanilla to the dough, and mix until a crumbly texture forms.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are foamy (about 2 to 3 minutes).
  4. Fold in egg whites until just combined.  Add raisins and until incorporated.
  5. In a greased 8×8 pan, spread the dough until it is in a thin, even layer
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
  7. Allow to cool before cutting into 8 bars.

Again, these bars were great!  If you’re looking to keep them completely vegan, try substituting two flax “eggs” for the egg-whites.  I can’t say that you’ll have the same results but it’s worth a try.  Let me know if you do!

Have you ever created your own recipe from scratch?  Was it a success or not so much?

Cinnamon Raisin Muffins

16 Jun

Even before June arrived, I knew I wanted to make a foodie gift for Father’s Day.  I did the same for Mother’s Day and it was very well received! 

So I got to thinking about foods that my dad enjoys.  The first couple of items that came to mind were obvious steak, bacon, or anything meat related.  Since I couldn’t very well mail him a steak, I continued to rack my brain for other ideas when it dawned on me.  Some of his favorite foods involve cinnamon; cinnamon ice cream and brown sugar cinnamon Pop-tarts to name a couple.  I scoured the internet for cinnamon based recipes and ultimately decided to customize my own cinnamon raisin muffins.

One key component to adapting a baked good recipe is keeping the correct ratio of wet to dry ingredients.  If you have too much of the former, your muffin will end up soggy or under cooked but with too much of the latter, you’ll have a dry, hard rock-like muffin.  I didn’t want to send my dad rocks for father’s day.  Nobody likes a repeat gift.

Not only is the correct ratio important, but so is the quality of the ingredients.  This recipe was the perfect opportunity for me to use a new-to-me brand of coconut oil.  Tropical Traditions was nice enough to send me 32 ounces of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil to sample. 

source

I have cooked and baked with coconut oil in the past and I continue to do so because I love the hint of coconut flavor it adds.  A small amount goes a long way and keeps me satiated for hours.  What I like about Tropical Traditions, is that their virgin coconut oil is unrefined and is made from fresh, organic coconuts.  To find out more about their coconut oil, check out their website.  Many thanks to Tropical Traditions for the sample!*

Cinnamon Raisin Muffins
(adapted from Cooks.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (4 oz)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (2 oz)
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (2 oz)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • dash of salt
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp applesauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup raisins
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flours, oats, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk sugar, applesauce, oil, and egg until combined.
  4. Add raisins to flour mixture and make sure to coat all the raisins lightly with flour.
  5. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir just until combined.
  6. Lightly oil a 12 muffin pan or use paper liners.  Pour the batter evenly among the 12 cups.
  7. Bake at 400 for about 20 to 25 minutes.
  8. Allow for some cooling time and enjoy!

Do you like to make foodie gifts for holidays?  If so, what was the last gift you made?

*Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review in return for the free product.

Pepperoni Pizza Pull Apart Bread

12 Jun

My infatuation with bread baking has not ceased.  Last weekend, when I was home, I made a loaf of Victorian Milk Bread that I hear was great.  Unfortunately, I was on a flight back to NYC when my family was enjoying it, so I never got a chance to try it.  At least they got to partake in some of my culinary experiments!

This weekend I attempted a different kind of bread all together; pull apart bread.  If you’ve never heard of it, I’m sure you can figure out what it’s all about from the name.  Let me tell ya, it’s a lot of fun to pull the loaf apart and enjoy it layer by layer.

I’d never made pull apart bread before so I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out.  I needn’t have feared.  This bread was phenomenal!  Between Alex and I, the loaf was gone in a day.  What can I say?  We love soft, pizza flavored bread that melts in your mouth.  And chances are, you will too.

Pepperoni Pizza Pull Apart Bread
(adapted from Kirby’s Cravings)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 packet of active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp of melted butter, divided
  • 2 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup Italian blended cheeses
  • 10 to 20 pepperoni slices, chopped

Directions:

Gather your ingredients.

In a small bowl, mix sugar, yeast, and water.  Allow the mixture to stand for 5 to 10 minutes, until the yeast becomes foamy.

Once the yeast is foamy, add two tablespoons of butter and mix.

In a separate, larger bowl, add the flour and one teaspoon of salt.  Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture.  Pour the yeast mixture into the well and slowly beging to incorporate the flour.

At this point it may seem that you have too much flour but continue mixing and the dough will come together.  Once most of the flour has been incorporated, turn the dough onto a clean counter and knead for 8 to 10 minutes.  The dough should become smooth and elastic.

Grease a large bowl with olive oil (or cooking spray).  Insert the dough and turn it to cover with oil.  Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave in a warm place for one hour.

We’ve been running the air conditioning since we’ve been experiencing some really high temps.  So, I was worried our apartment wouldn’t be warm enough for the dough to rise.  To remedy this I turned on the oven and placed the bread on top so that it would heat right up.  It worked like a charm.

Once the dough has doubled in size, rolled it out onto a floured countertop until it’s about 1/4 of an inch think.  Brush the dough with one tablespoon of melted butter and sprinkle the seasonings on top.  Next, cover the seasonings with cheese and chopped pepperoni.

Cut the dough into 2″ x 3″ squares and layer them into a 9 x 5 loaf pan lined with parchment paper.

This step was tricky for me.  The cheese and pepperoni did not want to stick to the dough and I couldn’t get the squares to stand up right.  So, I tipped the pan upright at a 90 degree angle and began to insert the squares.  It worked much better.  I still had some loose cheese that fell onto the countertop so I just sprinkled it on top of the loaf.  It still turned out lovely.

Once your loaf is formed, cover it with a damp towel and allow it to rise for about 40 minutes.  I placed mine on the stove top again.

Now that the dough is nice and fluffy, place the loaf into the a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes.  To check that the bread is cooked throughly, insert a knife into the middle make sure it comes out clean.  Then you’re ready to dig in!

Yum!  This recipe is a keeper.  I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as we did 🙂

This post has been submitted to Yeastspotting.

A Recipe Worth Keeping

1 Jun

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a hoarder.  Not quite as bad as some, but I do hold onto things that will not make a bit of difference in the future.  Like, all of my notes from college or my old, ratty gym shoes from years ago, just to name a couple.  I know I don’t need this stuff and yet I can’t seem to let it go.

This hoarding has infiltrated many facets of my life.  One of the most important ones being my kitchen.  Since most food has a short shelf life I’m forced to use it or dump it (which I hate, obviously).  However, there are some that last a little longer so  they hang around for a while.  Today’s breakfast featured a perfect example; protein powder.

I think it’s common for people to try out a series of protein powders at first as each can be very different from the next.  The smartest thing would be to buy the sample packs so that if you don’t like it you aren’t left with a huge jar of a so-so product.  But this is also tough for me.  Everytime I shop for a new powder, my cheap skate self gets the better of me and I can’t help but buy the larger size.  Afterall, each serving will be cheaper that way.  So that leaves me with some food to hoard.

Lately I’ve been loving protein muffin’s for breakfast but I’m running low on coconut flour so I decided to improvise.  I decided to substitute some of the coconut flour with protein powder.  I used Biochem Acai & Cream whey protein since I’ve been holding onto a container of this powder for months.  When I first used this powder in a protein shake, it was just alright.  It was very chalky and bland but I held onto it (naturally) and used it in baking.  It’s not bad in baked goods so I was hoping it’d work in a protein muffin.  Lucky for me it did!

By the way, I didn’t realize until just now that the jam is shaped as a heart.  Isn’t it funny when things like that happen?

Berry Yummy Protein Muffin
(adapted from Smoothie Girl Eats Too)

Ingredients:

  • 1 scoop Biochem Acai & Cream whey protein powder
  • 1 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened, all natural applesauce
  • dash of cinnamon
  • stevia to taste (I used five drops of vanilla stevia.)

Directions:

  1. In a small, microwaveable bowl, whisk egg whites, pumpkin, applesauce, and stevia.  Instead of the pumpkin and applesauce combination, you can use all pumpkin, all applesauce, or even a mashed up banana.  Be creative!
  2. Slowly add the protein powder, coconut flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.  Mix until all ingredients are combined.
  3. Microwave on high for 3 and 1/2 to 4 minutes.  Remove from the dish and allow to cool.  Top with greek yogurt, jam, peanut butter, maple syrup, or any other topping of choice.
Talk about protein!  Between the protein powder, egg whites, and greek yogurt, this breakfast had just over 50 grams.  This is a recipe that’s okay to hold onto 🙂

Do you hoard things?  Please tell me I’m not the only one!

Dessert for Breakfast

25 May

I started the day off on the right foot; I had dessert for breakfast.

Looks like a brownie sundae, right?  Well, it’s probably the healthiest sundae I’ve ever eaten.  For the “brownie” part, I made a chocolate protein muffin a la Smoothie Girl Eats Too.  This recipe is seriously great.  The “brownie” always comes out moist and chocolatey!  The only change I made was to add a boatload of cinnamon.  I love that stuff.

Now, the “ice cream” part was none other than greek yogurt ice cream.  I mixed 3/4 cup of plain greek yogurt with about 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk and 10 drops of vanilla stevia.  Then, I poured the whole mixture over my “brownie”, dressed it with some fresh organic blueberries, and dug in.  This breakfast sure made for a sweet morning.

On the way into work, Alex and I passed a group of Jamba Juice employees passing out new samples of their natural energy drinks.  I ended up with the Pomegranate Blueberry flavor.  The nutrition facts aren’t too bad as the ingredients appear to be real food.  What I don’t love about the stats is the high sugar content.  Most fruit juices have a large amount of sugar.  I usually don’t drink anything besides water, herbal teas, and the occasional glass of wine for that reason.

But, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to try it.  In truth, I didn’t really like it.  The first sip wasn’t so bad but by the third or fourth sip all I could taste was the sugar.  The drink had a very strong berry flavor and left a strange aftertaste.  I highly doubt I’ll drink it again, even if it’s another free sample.

Moving right along to lunch.  Today I ordered another salad!

Shocking, I know, but seriously salads are such a great way to eat lots of veggies.  And since I’m going away for a few days, I’m not sure how many veggies I’ll be consuming in the near future.  Today’s salad included:

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Green peas
  • Red and green bell peppers
  • Grilled chicken
  • Egg whites
  • Low fat tex mex ranch dressing

It was delicious and protein packed 🙂

When snack time rolled around, I had one thing on my mind.  Another protein muffin.

Seriously.  So good.  Have I mentioned that?!

And I also had some fruit salad…

After work I headed to the gym for another Chisel class.  Tonight’s class was taught by a great instructor.  She’s only a sub so I’m never sure when I’ll get to see her but I’m glad I made her class tonight.  She made us work!

For dinner, I knew I needed something protein packed to refuel and it also had to be quick.  So I made pasta with meat sauce.  It’s the easiest thing to make since PB&J.

First up, I chopped up half an onion and sautéed it over medium heat for about five minutes.  Then I added 1lb organic grass-fed beef and cooked it until the beef browned.  After draining the fat, I added about 1 to 2 cups of tomato sauce and cooked it on low until it was heated all the way through.  Meanwhile I prepared some whole wheat pasta and steamed broccoli.  It was ready in less than 20 minutes and it was darn tasty!

Now I’m snacking on a small bowl of Kashi GoLean, almond milk, and blueberries.  I’m heading to bed very soon since we’ve got an extra early wake up call tomorrow!  See you from North Carolina!

Have you ever had dessert for breakfast?

Chocolate Chip Protein Muffins

22 May

Happy weekend all!  Have you been up to anything fun?  I haven’t been doing much besides getting things done around the apartment and baking.  Two of my favorite ways to spend the weekend!  Last night Alex and I watched the King’s Speech.  I thought it was well done but somewhat slow at parts.  I’m not quite sure what all the fuss was about.  Did you see it?  What’d you think?

In an effort, to incorporate more protein in my diet, I’ve been looking to some of my favorite bloggers for inspiration.  One recipe that I’ve had bookmarked for a long time is Janetha’s Lemon Yogurt Chiaseed Protein Muffins.  While I’m not a big fan of lemon-flavored baked goods, I do like the idea of increasing the protein content in them.  So I set out to create my own adaptation with one of my favorite elements, dark chocolate.

I used slightly different ingredients which resulted in a lower protein content, however, they still have great stats.  8 grams of protein in a soft, chocolatey muffin is hard to beat.

I was slightly hesitant baking with the Garden of Life Raw Protein powder for the first time but it worked wonderfully.  These muffins turned out every bit as rich and moist as their non-protein counterparts.  In fact, I have to say that I favor these because of how dense they are.  I plan to eat these as a protein-filled afternoon pick-me ups throughout the week.

Well, that is, if they last that long 🙂

Chocolate Chip Protein Muffins
(adapted from meals & moves

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup protein powder (Garden of Life Raw Protein)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt (I used Fage Total 0%.)
  • 1/3 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp egg whites (equivalent to two large eggs)
  • 2 Tbsp applesauce
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp almond milk
  • 1/2 cup all natural dark chocolate chips (optional)
Directions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients, except chia seeds.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix all the wet ingredients except the milk.
  4. Add the dry to the wet and mix until combined.  Add milk if necessary to create a thick batter.  I used about 2 tablespoons.
  5. Fold in chia seeds and chocolate chips.  If chocolate chips aren’t your thing, then you can use any number of mix-ins.  Some great choices would be blueberries, strawberries, walnuts, carob chips, dried fruit, etc.  Be creative!
  6. Pour batter into a greased or lined muffin tin.
  7. Bake muffins for about 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.
How do you incorporate more protein into your diet?  Have you baked with protein powder before?