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.

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