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Cinnamon Sugar Roasted Almonds

22 Jul

Despite the heat wave that has overwhelmed the east coast, I used my oven this week.  I know; I question my sanity sometimes too.  But in the end it was worth it.  These cinnamon sugar roasted almonds really are delightful.  Each bite is a cinnamon sugar coated treat!

Cinnamon Sugar Roasted Almonds

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1/2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 and 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix almonds with canola oil and maple syrup until evenly coated.  Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over the nuts and combine to make sure each nut is coated.
  3. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet lined with parcment paper.  Roast the almonds for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  4. Allow them to cool and enjoy!
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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?

On the Lighter Side: Deviled Eggs

23 Jun

Deviled eggs always remind me of picnics.  When I was a kid, my mom would make them as a special treat to have along with our sandwiches and juice boxes.  We’d eat them on top of a picnic blanket while waiting for the 4th of July fireworks or in the backseat of the car after a fun day at the amusement park.

While I love my mom’s version and they’re great for an occassional treat, I decided to make a lighter version that can be enjoyed more frequently.  In place of mayo, I used protein packed Greek Yogurt which made for an extra creamy filling and a little bit of hummus provided a whole lot of flavor. 

These deviled eggs would be great as a healthy appetizer served before a meal off the grill or as lighter finger food when you have a few friends over.  You could even make a meal out of them, much like Alex and I did.  You and your guests won’t be disappointed.

Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp greek yogurt (I used Fage Total 0%)
  • 1 Tbsp hummus
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper and paprika

Directions:

  1. To hard boil the eggs, place them in a saucepan and fill the pan with cold water just until the eggs are covered.  Place the pan over high heat and bring the water to a boil.  Once it is boiling, cover the pan and remove it from the heat.  Leave the cover on for 12 to 14 minutes.  Drain the hot water and dunk the eggs into ice water.  Let them sit in the water until they are cool to the touch.  Peel the eggs.
  2. Slice the eggs lengthwise and place the yolks into a small bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except paprika, to the bowl and mix with a fork.  Fill each egg white with a scoop of filling and dust with paprika.

Do you have food that reminds you of summer time picnics?  Do you like deviled eggs?

Zucchini Oven Chips

19 Jun

Now that the warm weather is here and the official start of the season is only two days away, everyone is gearing up for summer.  Summer is a time for getting together with family and friends to enjoy the beach, pool parties, or cook-outs.  Often times that means heavy, unhealthy side dishes like potato salad or chips and dip.

It’s understandable as to why these foods are so popular; they’re quick and easy to prepare which allows you more time with family and friends.  However there are healthy options that will help lighten your load (pun intended).

Zucchini oven chips are very easy to prepare and they’re full of flavor.  Fresh out of the oven, they’re light and crisp.  Even the veggie haters will love this one!

Zucchini Oven Chips
(adapted from My Recipes)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1/3 cup planko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine the last five ingredients in a shallow bowl.  Mix well.
  3. Chop zucchini and dip zucchini pieces in milk.  Dredge the pieces in the breadcrumb mixture.
  4. Coat an oven safe cooling rack with cooking spray and place it on top of a baking sheet.  Lay the zucchini pieces on the cooling rack and spray with additional cooking spray.
  5. Cook for 30 minutes, making sure to flip the chips halfway through.

Next time you’re in need of a tasty and healthy side dish, give these a try.  Make sure to have an extra zucchini on hand as your family will surely be asking for more!

What’s your favorite summertime side dish?

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.

16 Handles

14 Jun

In addition to lovely brunches, I enjoy a lot of frozen treats over the summer.

Whether it be ice cream, frozen yogurt, soft serve, or sorbet, I’m a happy camper.  I don’t discriminate.

One of my favorite fro yo places is 16 Handles.

The location closest to our apartment is relatively new, as in this will be the first summer I don’t have to hop on the subway to enjoy 16 Handles.  Luckily, it’s still about a mile away so it won’t become a daily treat.  And, each time I go, I’m sure to walk at least two miles so that justifies an extra topping, don’t you think?

In case you haven’t been to 16 Handles or a similar type of place, I’m going to tell you all about it.  Each day 16 Handles offers 16 different flavors of frozen yogurt.

The flavors range from peanut butter (my personal favorite) to cake batter to watermelon sorbet, and everything in between.  Everything is self serve so you can get as much, or as little, as you want!

They also have a deluxe topping bar that’s sure to please everyone.

Some toppings include fresh fruit, mini peanut butter cups, cookie dough, and gummy bears, among many others.

On my last trip, I enjoyed peanut butter, banana, and cake batter frozen yogurts topped with brownie bites, peanut butter cups, and graham cracker crumbs. 

Yum!  I can see many more trips to 16 Handles in my near future.

What’s your favorite summer time treat?