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Cilantro

13 Jun

Summer has certainly hit NYC.  We had two days last week that were well into the 90s!  Not mention the ice cream trucks are out in full force and most women are wearing skirts or shorts that would make their mothers blush.  Not me of course (Hi Mom!).

One of my favorite summer time traditions is brunch.  Now you may be wondering, why is brunch reserved for the summer?  Well, in theory, it isn’t just a summer time activity but it’s just so much more enjoyable in the warmer weather.  There’s nothing quite like strolling to brunch in the sunshine after spending a lazy weekend morning in bed knowing that I don’t have to cook or clean.  Bliss.

This past weekend, Alex and I went to one of our favorite brunch locales; Cilantro.

Cilantro is a favorite for a number of reasons.  The environment is casual and family friendly, the food is top-notch, and the prices cannot be beat!

As usual, we started our meal with a basket of chips and salsa.  They also offer fried plantains which are great!  Crunchy, salty, and… gone.

For our entrees, I got the shrimp fajitas with an array of sides and whole wheat tortillas.  The thing I love about fajitas is that you have the ability to make it what you want.  You can be sure that I ate all the shrimp, peppers, and guacamole 🙂

Alex got his usual dish; steak and eggs.  He got this entire dish for $8!  I’m telling you the prices are ridiculous.  Let’s just hope no one from Cilantro reads this and increases the prices, haha (highly unlikely, indeed).

As always, we left as two very happy customers.  If you’re ever looking for a great brunch place on the upper east side, Cilantro never disappoints.

What’s one summer time tradition that you love?

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Five Favorites Friday – 6/3/11

3 Jun

Hello there!  Who’s ready for the weekend?  I know I am.  Even though this was a short week, it was still incredibly busy.  Alex and I had something to do every night this week and tonight I’m flying home to Buffalo.  My mom, sister, and I are going to do more wedding planning and shopping.  I’m so excited as I love all things wedding.  The goal this weekend is to find my sister a dress!

So, as I mentioned before, I’m trying to incorporate more protein into my diet.  At lunch and dinner, it has been easy as I can add cottage cheese to a salad or incorporate chicken into a dish, for example.  However, I tend to have a harder time finding high protein breakfasts and snacks.  This week I’ve compiled some of my favorite recipes as well as a couple I’d like to try.

My five favorites for Friday June 3, 2011 (btw, I must be in denial as I just typed May instead of June!):

  1. Whey Protein Cookies (from Fat Loss School)
    This is one of the recipes that I have yet to try but it sounds great!  Since protein powder is the main focus of this recipe, it’s important to find a powder that tastes good.  I’m still working on finding a powder I love but once I do, I plan to make a batch of these cookies!
  2. Protein Truffles (from Peas and Thank You)
    These vegan protein truffles sound like a great way to refuel after the gym or a nice way to curb hunger before dinner.  Either way, I can’t wait to give them a try!
  3. Microwave Protein Muffin (from Smoothie Girl Eats Too)
    I know I’ve mentioned this recipe before but it bears repeating because it’s that good!  You can follow Deb’s version exactly or adapt it to your liking.  It’s quick too, which helps on busy mornings or late night snacks!
  4. Lemon Yogurt Chia Seed Protein Muffins (from meals & moves)
    This is another great one!  I used this recipe as the base for my Chocolate Chip Protein Muffins, which I just loved.  But sometimes you just can’t beat the original 🙂
  5. Strawberry Banana Smoothie
    The last item on the list is something I’ve been having as dessert all week.  It’s incredibly easy and so tasty.  I wish I had tried it sooner!  I throw the following into a blender and blend away; 1/2 cup greek yogurt, 1/2 cup skim milk, 2-3 organic frozen strawberries, 1 small frozen banana, and 1/2 Tbsp strawberry fig jam.  This is so refreshing on a hot summer night.  I can foresee this becoming a summertime tradition.

What do you do to incorporate more protein into your diet?  Any favorite recipes?

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!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

26 May

Good morning friends!  We’re heading to Winston-Salem this morning.  Our flight was due to leave at 9:30 but it is now delayed to 10:30.  Bummer, but I guess you have to expect these things with air travel.  At least it gives me a chance to blog about breakfast!

Today I was in the mood for something cold and sweet.  A smoothie it is!  This morning’s smoothie included:

Blend, blend, blend and breakfast was served.

This smoothie was much better than Tuesday’s.  The chocolate peanut butter protein powder and the banana made for a really sweet smoothie!  The banana also added a nice creaminess factor!

I try not to use the BSN Syntha-6 Chocolate Peanut Butter too often because of it’s extensive ingredient list but the flavor is pretty spot on.  It’s a pretty good option while I shop around for other powders.

Well, that’s about all I’ve got to chat about!  I promise the next time you hear from me, I’ll be in North Carolina 🙂

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?

Will you hold me accountable?

23 May

Hello there!  Welcome to another week.  This week is going to fly by for me because I only have to work three days.  Love that.  This Thursday, Alex and I are flying down to North Carolina to visit some of my family.  Then on Saturday, we’re hitting the road to Hilton Head, South Carolina to see some of his family.  It’ll be a whirlwind trip as we’re due back in NYC by Monday evening.  Phew!  I’m looking forward to it and hope to blog a little bit about it on the way 🙂  Do you have any plans for Memorial Day weekend?

Because I’m going to be in and out all week, I thought I’d discuss my daily eats.  I also want to start using the blog as a way to hold myself accountable.  I know I’ve mentioned a few times before that I’d like to lose a little weight before my wedding.  (What bride doesn’t, after all?)  Unfortunately, I’ve found that since I got engaged my weight has been going in the wrong direction.  Now I know that the number on the scale isn’t the best measurement of overall physique.  After all, muscle weighs more than fat.  But I’ve noticed that my clothes are a little tighter and my energy levels are lower.  So, I’m going to work hard to change things up and I hope this will help me stick to it!

My latest challenge has been to cut back on the amount of nutbutter I consume.  I know that nuts are a great source of healthy fats but I think I’ve been over doing it lately.  Changing up the proportions of each micronutrient will help me a lot.  My plan right now is to aim for 30-40% protein, 50-60% carbs, and about 10% fat.  I do not have any support for those numbers besides what’s worked well for my body in the past.  (Please remember that I’m not a nutritionist and am not recommending you do the same.  Be aware of your own body and do what’s best for you.  But please read along as I try to figure what’s best for me!)

Let’s start the day, shall we?

Breakfast

For breakfast I made one of my latest (and greatest) creations.  Greek yogurt ice cream!  I know you’re probably thinking I’m crazy for eating “ice cream” for breakfast, but allow me to explain.  What you’ll need is 3/4 cup greek yogurt (I use Fage Total 0%), 2 to 3 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk, and 10 drops of stevia vanilla.  Mix until all three are well incorporated.  Now taste and tell me that doesn’t taste like ice cream!  On top, I dumped 1/2 cup Kashi GoLean, 1/2 cup Fiber One, and 1/4 organic blueberries.  Yum!

Lunch

Today’s lunch is brought to you by Tossed.  Tossed is a great salad and sandwich place located in midtown.  They have a wide variety of ingredients and a nutritional calculator so you have an idea of your micronutrients.  Very nice.  Today’s salad included:

  • Roasted Chicken
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Apples
  • Bean & Corn Salsa
  • Egg Whites
  • Fat Free Raspberry Vinaigrette

I also munched on a fuji apple that went unpictured.  But I’m guessing you know what an apple looks like 🙂

Snack


Today’s snack was a treat!  I had a chocolate chip protein muffin.  It was just as scrumptious today as the day they were baked.

I also nibbled on a couple handfuls of Kashi GoLean because my stomach was still grumbling.

After completing a full workday, I still had energy to work it out at the gym.  Tonight’s class was Chisel.  I may have mentioned this before, but just in case I didn’t, this class uses weights and calisthenics to sculpt and shape muscles.  Woo hoo!  It was a tough workout and just what I needed.

Dinner


Now dinner is not as in line with my new goals as I would have hoped but I had to clean out the refrigerator since we’ll be gone for a few days.  Besides, a little cheese, bread, and wine never hurt, right?  I think “a little” are the key words there.  Alex and I shared the above plate and had a glass of red wine each.  It’s such a nice indulgence that we both really enjoy 🙂

That’s about all for today.  I might try to find something in the way of fruit for dessert.  Hopefully I’ll find something good!

How do you hold yourself accountable when it comes to healthy eating?  I can use all the help I can get!

Cookies and Cream Granola

13 Apr

I am so excited to share this recipe with you. 

This granola turned out so well that I had a hard time not eating it all before snapping some pictures.  But I knew I couldn’t do that to my readers.  I had to share!

If you do one thing today, you must make this granola.  Can you promise me that?  Pretty please?

Okay, I promise to stop begging.  It must be all the chocolate I consumed.  It’s making me do crazy things.  Like daydream about what this would taste like sprinkled over vanilla bean ice cream, or in a bowl with a little bit of milk, or just poured into my mouth straight.  I’m serious.  It’s that good.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because when there is chocolate involved you usually can’t go wrong.  But this recipe far surpassed my expectations.  The granola tastes like it was baked in chocolate pudding.  Some pieces turned out slightly chewy, some had a little bit more crunch.  My favorite pieces were the large clumps of chocolatey granola goodness.  Oh and the cookie pieces.  I can’t forget to mention the cookie pieces.

I used the vanilla bean sandwich cookies from Late July.  I’d never tried them before but the nutrition stats and ingredient list couldn’t be beat.  You know, because, when mixing crumbled cookies into chocolate granola, nutrition is of the utmost importance 🙂 

By including organic cookies in this decadent granola, I was able to rationalize the five two bowls I ate last night.  Whatever allows me to consume more chocolate, am I right?

Cookies and Cream Granola

Ingredients:
(loosely adapted from Jessica’s Chocolate Gingerbread Granola)

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 2 Tbsp flaxmeal
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
  • 2 Tbsp dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup crushed cookies

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, wheat germ, flaxmeal, chia seeds and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine vanilla, butter, applesauce, brown rice syrup, and cocoa powder.
  4. Pour wet mixture into dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.  Fold in chocolate.
  5. Spread onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  Bake for about 20 minutes stirring every few minutes to make sure the granola doesn’t burn.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Once granola is cooled, add crushed cookies.

Have you ever made homemade granola?  If so, what flavor(s)?