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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?

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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?

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)?

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

2 Apr

These chocolate chip cookie dough truffles taste so much like cookie dough that you’ll be surprised to read the ingredient list.  Trust me, that really is all you’ll need to make these.

You might also be surprised at just how simple they are to make.  The dough comes together in a matter of minutes.  So the real test is how patient can you be while they chill out in the fridge?  Trust me, I know it’s hard to wait.

Ultimately, they are well worth the wait.  Once you sink your teeth in their rich, doughy texture and the chocolate melts in your mouth, you’ll be scrambling for another.  And trust me, it’s impossible to eat just one.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • dash of salt and cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup and 2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips, divided
    *This recipe could easily be made vegan friendly by using dairy free chocolate chips.*

Directions:

  1. Place cashews, maple syrup, nutritional yeast, vanilla, salt and cinnamon into a food processor or high-speed blender.
  2. Blend until mixture comes together into a thick paste, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Add chocolate and pulse about 10 times, until chips are chopped into smaller pieces.
  3. Remove mixture from the food processor and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Once your “dough” is chilled, melt chocolate chips in the microwave on 30 second intervals or over a double boiler.
  5. Measure dough into one tablespoon increments and roll into balls.
  6. Roll the balls in melted chocolate and place on a baking sheet.  Once all the truffles have been covered, place the sheet in the refrigerator to chill for another 30 minutes.

For any of you that don’t like nuts, go ahead and try this recipe anyway (unless you have a nut allergy; that’d just be silly).  The only nut Alex (thinks) he likes is the peanut.  But he gobbled these up with a grin on his face.  And before I told him what they were made of, he truly believed it was cookie dough.

Have I said enough to convince you to try these?  If not, leave a comment letting me know what else I could possibly say to persuade you 🙂

The Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group Concert

30 Mar

source

Omar Rodriguez Lopez is one of Alex’s favorite musicians.  He’s best known for his work as a composer, guitarist and producer of The Mars Volta, a progressive rock band.  According to wikipedia, “he has cited Crimson’s Robert Fripp as an influence, as well as jazz fusion guitarists John McLaughlin and Jimi Hendrix.”  In addition to his work with The Mars Volta, he’s released several solo albums as the Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group.

We were lucky enough to get tickets to their show last night at the Highline Ballroom.

Highline ballroom is on the westside of Manhattan, in Chelsea.  It is a small, intimate space without being too crowded or loud.  They also have several tables along each side of the stage and in the balcony.  We got there with plenty of time to snag a table right at the end of the balcony. 

Please forgive my photos.  I only had my iPhone with me and as you can imagine, the lighting was very low.  At least the shot above gives you an idea of our view for the night.

Since we got inside almost an hour before the show started, we had time to order some dinner.

I went with a classic; grilled cheese and tomato soup.  Perfect comfort food for this spring weather bitter cold that New York hasn’t been able to shake (ps… for all you New Yorkers out there, they’re calling for snow on Friday.  Yes, snow!).

This meal really hit the spot!  The tomato soup was so rich and creamy.  It was so much more satisfying than regular old Campbells.  And the grilled cheese was perfect.  The bread was lightly buttered and toasted just right.  The melty cheese and toasted bread paired nicely with the rich tomato sauce.  I definitely dunked my sandwich in the soup more than once!

And done!

Alex had the Kobe skirt steak.  He was also very happy with his dish.

Around the time we finished our entrees, the opener, Zechs Marquise, started.  Omar’s brother is the bassist of Zechs Marquise.  You can check out their music here.  Their set had a great beat.  Alex put it best when he said that their music is very “accessible”, meaning it is appealing even to those who don’t know it.  I certainly fall in that category as last night was the first time I’d heard them. 

As the show went on, we decided to get a few small bites to share. 

We choose the assorted cheese plate, the spring rolls, and fried mozzarella sticks.  I only nibbled on a each since I had my eye on the ultimate prize; flourless dark chocolate cake with cappuccino crunch ice cream.

Wow, this cake was decadent!  It was so moist and instantly melted in your mouth.  The cool cappuccino crunch ice cream was a great compliment to the warm, velvety chocolate cake.  The flavors came together so well!  Needless to say, between the two of us, this lasted less than five minutes 🙂

After we demolished dessert, the group came on!  The show focused mainly on the latest work of the group along with the accompaniment of Cedric Bixler-Zavala, also from The Mars Volta.

 

We had such a good time.  I love going to concerts because it’s nice to be exposed to new music and I LOVE to people watch.  The crowd at a concert is like no else!   Last night was no exception.  Not only was the music enjoyable but the food was delicious and the Highline Ballroom was the perfect venue.  If you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend you do.

What was the last concert you went to? 

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

17 Mar

Happy St. Patricks Day!

What have you done to celebrate?  The extent of my celebration includes these cookies (I’ll take any reason to bake!) and to wear green.    Have you ever heard of the tradition that you’re allowed to pinch someone who isn’t wearing green on St. Patty’s day?  I’d never heard this before I met Alex.  When he first told me, I thought he was using it as an excuse to flirt with me (which was totally okay by me :-)).  But then over the past few years, I started hearing it from other people.  It’s a strange tradition, no?  At any rate, since that year onward, I’ve made sure to wear green!

Now, let’s talk cookies.  These cookies are tasty and so festive!  I followed a chocolate chip recipe from Janetha (at meals & moves <– LOVE her site!).  She claims this is the best chocolate chip recipe ever and I’d have to agree.  These cookies always turn out soft and chewy in the center.  They seriously melt in your mouth!  I made a few changes and added some green food coloring to make them more festive 🙂

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup and 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 and 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 and 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 rounded tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp green food coloring (optional)
  • 1 cup mint chocolate chips (I used Andes mint baking chips)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugars, egg, vanilla and peppermint extracts.
  3. In a separate bowl, measure flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Mix thoroughly.
  4. Slowly add your dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.
  5. Mix in green food coloring, if using.
  6. Slowly fold in the mint chocolate chips.
  7. Using a tablespoon, roll dough into balls and place onto baking sheets.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes.
  9. Let them cool and enjoy!

Tell me one thing you like to do every St. Patrick’s Day!