Monday, March 17, 2014

Banana Bread Granola

Banana Bread Granola recipe

Okay, I saw this recipe on Pinterest and I had to make it immediately.  I often pin things that look delicious, but I rarely get around to making them.  I'm sure you are the same way.  Pinterest is how my life would be if I had about 20 extra hours in every day to make my life pretty, perfect, and full of delicious food, fabulous clothes, and fantasy vacations.  I love my life the way it is though, and as much as I wish it looked more like my Pinterest boards, I'm definitely more than happy with reality.  BUT, sometimes, life is better if you really do reach into those boards and actually try something new.  And this is definitely one of those occasions... this granola is amazing!  Your house will smell fantastic and your tummy will be very happy.  I had to give some of it away because I would have eaten it all myself (in a day).  I also served it at brunch during the Olympic Gold Medal hockey game, and I think it was a hit.

Banana Bread Granola recipe

Banana Bread Granola

Slightly Adapted from The Minimalist Baker

3 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup pecans
1/3 cup whole, raw almonds
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon flax seed
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 medium ripe banana, mashed (approximately 1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix the oats, cinnamon, sugar, salt, flaxseed and nuts together in a large bowl (see photo).

Whisk together the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract until well combined, then whisk in banana puree. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well.

Spread the mixture evenly onto one or two baking sheets (making sure it doesn’t get crowded) and bake for 23-28 minutes or until golden brown. The coconut oil will help it crisp up well, but be sure to watch it carefully as it can brown quickly. It is up to you whether you stir or toss the granola while it is baking. The less you stir it, the clumpier it gets, but watch to make sure its not burning if you do not stir it!

Once the granola is visibly browned, remove from the oven and toss just a bit to let the heat escape.

Cool completely on the baking sheet or in a heat-safe bowl.  Seriously, make sure it is completely cool so that it stays crispy, if you put it in a jar too quickly it will soften (which is still delicious, but I like mine crispy).  Store in a container or jar with an air-tight seal – it should keep for a couple weeks (if it lasts that long without you eating it all!).

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Roasted Pepper, Kale and Goat Cheese Frittata

I've hosted two brunches now and served a variation on this fritatta.  It has been a good go-to and it is healthy enough that you can add something sweet to your brunch menu without feeling bad.  This frittata also goes particularly well with mimosas.

It feels good to be blogging again.  I know that 2014 has been a little bit spotty on the blog front, but hopefully things have calmed down enough that I can start cooking new recipes.  In January and February, my diet was pretty boring as I was trying to stay with my carb cycling plan.  It worked and I ended up losing about 10 pounds through the combination of the Vemma Bode program, carb cycling, and my triathlon training.  Now that I am in full training mode, I've adjusted my carb cycling a bit (though still need to keep tweaking it) and I've just been focused on getting enough fuel for my workouts.  But, I am finally into my routine, so there should be more time (and energy) for me to cook up some new dishes!  And of course, I will continue to experiment with low-carb meals -- not just for my own sake, but also for my group that has been following the Bode plan too.  We have had so much fun and everyone has had such amazing transformations since the start of the year.  People have dropped 10, 15, even 20 pounds just by making some simple changes to the way they eat and by ensuring that they are getting some exercise.  I'm so proud of everyone!  And I get to see many of my challenge group next week on our family cruise! My mom even bought her first bikini in years!

Anyways, back to the frittata.  When a dish is this full of flavor and also packed with nutrients and protein, healthy eating is a breeze.  The trick really is to make your meals exciting - colorful and flavorful.

Roasted Pepper, Kale and Goat Cheese Frittata

1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
3 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups kale
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup goat cheese
5 eggs
1/4 cup skim milk
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Cut the peppers into 1/2 inch pieces, then toss with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and sea salt.  Spread the peppers out on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

While the peppers roast, sautee kale in remaining olive oil with minced garlic until the kale is slightly wilted.

Vigorously whisk together eggs, milk, sea salt, pepper, and chili powder.  Stir in the kale, peppers, and cherry tomatoes.  Pour the egg and vegetable mixture into a casserole dish.  Top with chunks of goat cheese.

Bake the frittata for 35-40 minutes or until the center is firm and doesn't jiggle.  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Skinny Strawberry Dark Chocolate Muffins

I love muffins.  Easy to grab and go, but sometimes muffins are calorie bombs full of sugar and more like dessert than a healthy on-the-go breakfast.  These muffins could be made with a little bit less sugar, and I'm definitely going to keep tweaking this recipe, but they are significantly better than what you'll find at your local coffee shop.  These muffins are also reminiscent of chocolate covered strawberries, so even though they are on the healthier side, they taste very indulgent!

Skinny Strawberry Dark Chocolate Muffins

Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 scoop Vanilla protein powder*
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg white beaten
2/3 cup diced strawberries
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray muffin tins with olive oil cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, protein powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, whisk together sugars, apple sauce, and vanilla until well combined.  Stir in beaten egg, then add the wet mixture to the dry mixture.  Stir together until just combined, being careful not to overmix.  Stir in strawberries and dark chocolate chips.

Fill the muffin tins with 1/3 cup batter.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

*I use Vemma Bode powder. If you don't have protein powder, add 1/4 cup whole wheat flour.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Apricot Almond Bars

Apricot Almond Bars recipe
I love having easy snacks to grab on the go.  Lately, I've been reaching for bars.  I like to keep one in my desk drawer at work, or in my purse, to make sure that I don't succumb to "hanger."  And these bars are a homemade version of my favorite bars out on the market - Kind Bars.  These are so easy to make and so close to the original!  You could easily adapt these with different types of nuts and dried fruit, or leave out the apricot to make the Almond Coconut version of the bars.  The best part of these is that you always know exactly what is in them!

Apricot Almond Bars recipe

Apricot Almond Bars

Adapted from Feasting at Home

2 cups nuts (1 cup each, almonds and cashews)
1 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/2 cup finely diced dried apricots
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup honey
Pinch of salt

Lightly toast the almonds at 325F for 7-9 minutes.  Mix the nuts, coconut flakes, and apricot together in a bowl.

In a medium pot, stir together honey, water, and salt over medium heat.  When the honey mixture starts to bubble, turn the heat down to medium-low.  Use a candy thermometer to keep track of the temperature.   It will take about 15-20 minutes to bring the temperature to 255-260F.  After the temperature reaches about 230F, keep a close watch, because it will heat quickly after that.  When the temperature reaches 255-260, stir the nut mixture into the honey until the nuts are well coated.

Press the mixture into a parchment lined 8x8 inch baking dish.  Use the back of a greased metal spatula or the bottom of a glass. Let the bars cool for 20 minutes.  Before they cool completely, then cut the bars.  Store in an airtight container.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Chicken

Okay, I really need to get my computer fixed gang.  Last time I posted was for last month's SRC reveal day, and I can't believe that a month has flown by and here we are again posting for Secret Recipe Club.  This month, we were assigned Without Adornment, a blog full of amazing gluten-free recipes, including tons of delicious baked goods. Bean is a smart cookie (she's an engineer), and aims to live life unadorned, meaning to be herself and to be alive! I love the honesty of her blog and her baking and photography skills are quite evident. If you have any food sensitivities, she has you covered with gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan, refined sugar-free, etc. options.

As I flipped through Bean's recipe index, I admit, I was tempted by all the tasty baked goods, but this Coconut Curry Chicken jumped off the page.  After a bit too much indulgence over Valentine's Day weekend (hey, a single girl has to celebrate too!), I was craving something healthy and delicious, yet comforting at the same time.  Not only did I drool over the ingredients, I was also excited that it was a slow cooker recipe, because I honestly don't use my slow cooker enough.  It is a great timesaving way to make an easy and healthy meal, and this recipe from Without Adornment is definitely easy, delicious, and healthy!

For my version, I used light coconut milk and instead of adding the cauliflower florets to the curry, I put the cauliflower in a food processor to make "rice" to serve with the curry. (Just pulse in the food processor until all of the cauliflower is the size of rice, then sauté for a few minutes in coconut oil with salt and pepper over medium heat.) I also cooked mine on low, since I made it overnight and felt like sleeping longer than 5 hours haha.

Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Chicken

From Without Adornment

3 or 4 chicken breasts, fresh or frozen
1 red pepper, seeded and quartered
1 small onion, skinned and halved
2 cloves garlic
1 can coconut (light) milk
1 can tomato paste
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cardamom
3/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. salt
3 carrots, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 c. cauliflower florets, chopped (I used the cauliflower to make "rice")
cilantro or parsley

Add the chicken breasts, chopped red pepper, and carrots to the bottom of your slow cooker.

In a food processor, combine coconut milk, second pepper, garlic, spices, and tomato paste.  Process until smooth.  Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables.

Cook on either low for 7-8 hours or high for 5 hours.

Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred it.  It should fall apart easily at this point.  Set the chicken aside for a moment.

Create a roux with cold water and cornstarch.  Gradually stir the roux into the sauce in the slow cooker to thicken the sauce. Add the chicken back into the sauce. 

At this point, you can either steam your cauliflower florets and add them to the curry, or you can make cauli "rice" as described above.  Alternative serving options: rice, noodles, or nothing at all.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Blueberry-Banana Baked Oatmeal

Well, for the K and K family members, 2014 is the year we commit to healthy eating! Kelsey is leading the way for us as she switched to clean eating back in June and she finally convinced us to change our eating habits!  In December, Kelsey lead a group of seven family and friends in a Holiday Challenge of healthy eating and fitness to help us ward off the holiday weight gain.  I am happy to report that all of us were successful in actually losing weight in December.  First time ever that I came to the New Year actually losing 4 pounds instead of gaining.  So, we all committed to doing the month of January and we added more family and friends and we are a group of 30!  Some are using the Vemma Chris Powell Bode products and carb cycling and some are doing their own programs, but all are getting the fantastic daily emails from Kelsey and support of our FB group!  This month has produced even greater results with our average weigh loss over 4 weeks was 8 pounds per person.  Amazing to think at my age (50+) that I would be a part of the latest craze called social dieting.  It is so much fun.  Kelsey will be leading a new group starting on Feb. 7th.  If you are interested in learning about the February challenge, contact Kelsey. 

Tim and I just got back from five days of skiing with friends.  Each morning one couple was assigned breakfast for the group.  I knew that I wanted to make something that was hearty but healthy.  So this great recipe of Blueberry-Banana Baked Oatmeal was my choice.  The recipe contributor assured that it “would help power you through your day and guard against energy fluctuations.”  Our group of skiers agreed that it was delicious and indeed gave them lasting power until lunchtime. I made a few adjustments to recipe to up the protein level and served it with Greek yogurt and fresh berries!  It made great leftovers so your breakfast is ready for the week! 

Blueberry-Banana Baked Oatmeal

Elizabeth M. Ward, Muscle and Fitness Hers

2 cups rolled oats
½ cup walnuts, chopped
¼ cup honey
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt (optional)
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup of Vemma Vanilla protein powder or protein powder of your choice
¼ cup flax seed
2 cups non-fat milk or almond milk
2 medium fortified eggs, beaten
¼ cup butter or coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
2 tsp. vanilla extract (I did not have with me so I just had the vanilla flavor from protein powder)
2 ripe bananas
2 cups fresh, or frozen and thawed, blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease the inside of an eight-inch square baking dish.  (I used a round one as we were skiing and I used what was available in the condo.)

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, half of the walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, protein powder, and flax seed.  Set aside.

In another medium bowl, combine honey, milk, eggs, butter or coconut oil, and vanilla extract.  Set aside.

Arrange the bananas in layers on the bottom of the baking dish.  Place 1 ½ cups blueberries on the top. Cover the fruit with the oat mixture. 

Slowly pour the milk/egg mixture over the fruit and oats, making sure it covers them completely.  Sprinkle the remaining berries and walnuts on top.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and the mixture has set.  Remove from the oven.  Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting.  Storage leftovers in refrigerator. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Almond Stuffed Dates.

It's time for another Secret Recipe Club post and despite the fact that my computer is broken and no longer lets me connect to the internet, I wouldn't miss an SRC reveal day. 

Plus, this month I have an delightful little treat to share with you from a really neat blog.  Dena is the author of "Oh, You Cook," a kosher blog.  Besides being an accomplished cook and a librarian, Dena is also the author of "The Everything Kosher Slow Cooker Cookbook" (find it at Barnes & Noble or on Amazon).

Dena's blog is filled with lots of fabulous recipes, including many traditional recipes for Jewish holidays. 

I'm always on the lookout for sweet treats that aren't *that* bad for me.  Well, these Almond Stuffed Dates may be my new favorite treat.  They are so easy and perfectly satisfy my sweet tooth.  The cream cheese cuts some of the sweetness and the almond adds a nice little crunch.  Dena originally made these treats to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shevat, the New Year for Trees.  On Tu B'Shevat it is customary to eat dried fruits and nuts.  The holiday just happened to land on January 15th, so besides being the recipe that I was instantly drawn to on Dena's blog, it felt appropriate to make for the January SRC.  Of course, there were plenty of other recipes on Oh, You Cook that I have bookmarked for later - Israeli Beet Dip, Sweet Potato Mini Muffins, and Challah.  For now, these stuffed dates will be on heavy rotation in my sweet treat snacking repertoire. You need to go make these now! Thanks for sharing Dena and for being such an amazing resource for kosher recipes!

Almond Stuffed Dates

From Oh, You Cook

8 ounces whipped light cream cheese
8 ounces dried, pitted dates
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 (or a handful) of raw, whole almonds (that's the only kind I keep in the house)

Whisk together cream cheese, powdered sugar, and lemon juice until well combined.

Carefully slice the dates lengthwise, being careful to not cut all the way through.

Using a pastry bag and tip, fill the dates with the cream cheese mixture.  Top each date with an almond, pressing the almond into the opening.  Refrigerate until serving or serve immediately. Enjoy!

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