December 30, 2014

Cocoa Espresso Waffles

Happy holidays!

I have wanted to make healthy waffles for years, but I haven't procured a waffle iron in all this time. Well, I must've been on Santa's nice list this Christmas because he delivered a waffle iron under my Christmas tree. Lucky me!

I've been experimenting with various types of waffles all week, trying to find the perfect crunch, chew, taste and nutrition. So far, these cocoa espresso waffles are the best. They are hearty, super filling, high in protein, and taste like dessert. Win-win.

I didn't have to have my usual second cup of coffee because the cocoa and espresso powders give these waffles that extra zing. And if you aren't a coffee drinker, see how you feel after eating these. Caffeine is a natural metabolism stimulant that helps promote weight loss. Some people are super sensitive to caffeine, however; so if you are, you can leave out the espresso powder.

Cocoa Espresso Waffles
Makes six standard size waffles

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 tablespoon salt
1 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)
1/2 cup packed coconut sugar (can sub brown sugar)
2 teaspoons espresso powder (I used a Starbucks Italian Roast VIA packet)
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
3 egg whites
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips (optional)
maple syrup, jam, or topping of choice (optional)

1. Heat up waffle iron. While it's heating, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture and add milk, sugar, espresso powder, and yogurt.
3. Whip egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold in to batter in thirds.
4. On the last third of the egg whites, also fold in the chocolate chips.
5. Spray waffle iron with cooking spray and use about 1/3 cup of batter per waffle. Heat until steam starts to dissipate and waffle is crisp. All waffle irons are different, so refer to your waffle iron's settings.


December 22, 2014

Maple & Sage Brown Butter Roasted Butternut Squash

Hello, hello!

Are you in need of a delicious holiday side dish this week? I have just the thing. And guess what? It's grain free, refined sugar free, and probably the best way I've ever had butternut squash prepared. How can you go wrong?

Behold: Maple & Sage Brown Butter Roasted Butternut Squash

Seasonal ingredients come together seamlessly and leave an explosion of holiday flavors in your mouth. (And brown butter makes everything better.)

Simply roast cubed butternut squash for ~30 minutes at 425F.

While it's roasting, brown two tablespoons of butter. Right before it's done, throw in some chopped fresh sage leaves. It should be golden brown, but not burnt. If you aren't sure how to brown butter, watch a tutorial. I'm telling you, it is ah-mazing. Life changing. Brown butter snickerdoodles, my friend. You need them.

After the butter has cooled a bit, add in maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon. I added some chopped walnuts too, but these are optional. Then toss the squash with the butter sauce once it's tender and just starting to brown. It should look like this when it's done...

Toss gently and promptly consume. You can warm it up later too.

Maple & Sage Brown Butter Roasted Butternut Squash
Adapted from Against All Grain

1 medium butternut squash (peeled and cubed, I used the prepacked Trader Joe's bag)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons salted butter
10 fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Toss the butternut squash in olive oil and salt. Spread it evenly on a cookie sheet.
3. Roast the squash, tossing occasionally, until tender and slightly browned, about 30 minutes depending on the size of your pieces.
4. Heat the butter and sage leaves over medium heat, swirling it around the pan every couple of minutes. Once the butter foams up and starts browning, remove from heat. You want it to be a light amber color, but not burned. It will start to smell nutty when it's browning. Quickly dump into a cool bowl to stop the cooking process.
5. Add the maple syrup and cinnamon, then pour the butter sauce over the squash.

Happy Holidays!


December 7, 2014

Skinny Baked Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal (GF, can be made vegan)

Good morning!

I have had the most exhausting week! And it's continuing... I got a second part time job and between that, my internship, and my other job I literally have not had a single day off in a week and am scheduled every single day this upcoming week.

Here's what happens when I don't get a break...

Granted, they look pretty similar and I did have to get dressed in the dark at 5:30am, but still. Too much work.

Anyway, enough complaining!! I have a fabulous healthy recipe for you today! And I was actually waiting on it to finish baking as I put on my mismatched shoes. Maybe I just got so excited for this baked oatmeal with a gooey peanut butter center that I just stopped paying attention to everything else.

How amazing does this look?! And it's around 400 calories. A perfect breakfast portion. Or dessert, but who's checking?

Spray a ramekin with cooking spray or grease with butter. Line the bottom with bananas...

Top the bananas with half the oatmeal mixture (quick cooking oats, cocoa powder, baking powder, applesauce, almond milk, and vanilla). Line with bananas again and put 1 Tbsp peanut butter/nut butter in the center.

Top with the remaining oat mixture and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350F. The bananas help to give the oatmeal its sweetness since there is no added sweetener. So if you want to leave the bananas out, just add some maple syrup or sweetener of your choice.

Now I'm off to do some quick abs and HIIT sprints before I head to work!



Skinny Baked Chocolate Peanut Butter Center Oatmeal
Adapted from Southern-In-Law

1/2 cup quick cooking oats*
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup almond milk**
2 Tbsp non-fat Greek yogurt***
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 banana
1 Tbsp peanut butter*****

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Combine dry ingredients. Add in wet ingredients and mix until incorporated.
2. Spray a ramekin with cooking spray or grease with butter. Slice a banana and line bottom with banana slices.
3. Top bananas with half the oat mixture.
4. Add another layer of bananas, but put a dollop of peanut butter in the center. Top with remaining oat mixture.
5. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes.

*You may use rolled or old fashioned oats, but will probably need to increase liquids and baking time.
**Use any milk of choice
***You can sub applesauce for the Greek yogurt to make this vegan. I tried both and found I liked the texture of the Greek yogurt oatmeal better. The applesauce made it a little thicker and drier.
****Use any nut butter of choice.

December 1, 2014

Croissant Breakfast Ring

The holidays are in full effect! Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is right around the corner. I plan to go out and purchase a tiny tree for my apartment later today.

I realize many people have family in for the holidays and it's certainly not always appealing to them to "healthify" any foods. I know my family isn't really into that. My mom still won't eat turkey burgers and my dad probably couldn't tell you what hummus is. Moving on to extended family... well, let's not even go there. :-)

So, I found this super duper easy crowd pleaser of a recipe. It's versatile in that you can healthify, de-healthify, make vegetarian, make carnivorous, et cetera... I made it for the boyfriend and he LOVED it. As I don't eat red meat, I would sub out the bacon for turkey bacon and I might even go veggie and do an egg white scramble in place of the eggs and bacon.

Plus, just look how lovely it is! I promise any guest or spouse will be impressed when you set this steaming, beautiful breakfast ring in front of them. It looks like a work of art that took mad skills. But really, it couldn't be easier.

This is such an easy way to make a delicious breakfast for several people. Just pop open a can of crescent rolls, unroll them, and line them into a star-like shape.

Set your oven on 375F while you prep the filling. I used 8 pieces of bacon and 5 scrambled eggs along with some shredded cheddar cheese. This is where you can get creative.

Once you line your filling along the ring and a bacon piece along the length of each arm of the star, just roll up the crescents and tuck the ends under.

So mine ended up being a layer of cheese, a layer of eggs, a piece of bacon per arm, and another layer of cheese atop the eggs. I rolled up the ends and I brushed it with an egg wash to give it that golden color. Then I baked the ring for about 15 minutes.

And there you go! Slice and serve. Add a little salsa on the side or some chipotle crema.


Croissant Breakfast Ring

1 can crescent rolls (I used Trader Joe's, but any kind will do)
1 cup shredded cheddar (or cheese of choice)
8 pieces bacon, cooked (turkey bacon or sausage works too!)
4-5 scrambled eggs (depending on the size of your eggs)
1 egg whisked for the egg wash

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Pop open a can of crescent rolls and unroll each crescent. Line rolls into a star shape with the pointy ends being the star ends.
3. Fry up 8 pieces of bacon. Scramble 4-5 eggs. Let cool slightly.
4. Spread half the cheese along middle perimeter of star shape. Line each arm with a piece of bacon. If it's too long, just break it into pieces. Line middle with eggs. Top with the rest of the cheese.
5. Roll each arm up and tuck the end under. Brush the whisked egg over the surface of the dough.
6. Bake for 15 minutes or until crescents are golden on top. Slice into 8 pieces and serve.

November 25, 2014

Skinny Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

Are you worried about your waistline with the upcoming holiday season? I know I am! Sweets, pastries, and pies are my ultimate weakness. Throw in pumpkin and I'm in some serious trouble!

It's fine to indulge a little bit though. Honestly, who's going to eat salad and a protein shake on Thanksgiving day? Pfft. :-)

But sometimes it's good to substitute something unhealthy with some lightened up modifications so you don't feel like you're totally depriving yourself. You'll also be more likely to stay on track if you can feel like you're eating what you want. Continuous deprivation ultimately leads to bingeing. And that's never good.

So I have a solution for you! Try my skinny pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. No one will know they're healthy! They taste downright amazing. Pumpkin itself is 100% healthy. It's all the sugar, cream, flour, and butter that causes pumpkin desserts to be naughty.

Stay on Santa's nice list with this recipe... ;-)

Made with Truvia and coconut oil, these little dudes have all the flavor of a cupcake but the nutritional content of a decently healthy breakfast treat. Or treat at any time, really.

Bring them as a gift, make people feel less guilty at the office, or enjoy yourself. Poppable, delicious, and adorable, I know you'll enjoy these any time of the year.

Skinny Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
Adapted from Yummy, Healthy, Easy

Makes 36-48 mini muffins

1 c. canned pureed pumpkin
¾ c. Truvia Baking Blend (or 1½ c. sugar)
½ c. coconut oil
½ c. water
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1⅔ c. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. cinnamon
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ cup mini chocolate chips


1.Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a mini muffin tin (I used paper baking cups, but then realized it doesn't come off super easily so go with greasing the pan!). I also used two 12 cup muffins tins and had to bake two different sets of muffins.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, Truvia, coconut oil and water. Beat together until mixed. Add in one egg at a time and beat to incorporate. Then add vanilla and mix again.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice together.

4. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet and mix just until combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.

5. Pour into prepared muffin tins. I used a spoon because the batter was a little too thick to pour and the mini tins are really small. Fill 3/4 of the way. Bake for 16 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake. The pumpkin and oil cause them to look a little underbaked, but trust me, you want them to be very moist.

November 17, 2014

Baked Salmon with Herb Butter, Green Beans, and Tomatoes

So it's already snowing in the Midwest and northeast. My mom was just out here for a visit last week and she was so happy to be in the 70 degree sunny weather. But really, snow?! It's not even Thanksgiving. I'm worried about making it to Iowa for Christmas at this rate. If I get stranded on my way there or back, I might have to solicit you guys to tell me what can keep me entertained in Des Moines. But I degress...

On to this week's recipe.

This is a one dish meal which is always a plus. All you need is salmon, green beans (I used Trader Joe's frozen and let them thaw, but you can use fresh to skip the thawing step), cherry tomatoes, olive oil and herb butter. Maybe some salt and pepper.

I bought Kerrygold Garlic and Herb butter, but you can easily make your own herb butter by mixing whatever herbs you desire into softened butter.

Then line everything up neatly in a 9x13" baking dish. Top each filet with a pat of butter and drizzle olive oil over the veggies. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes and voila. Done.

The butter melts and drips down each filet, seasoning the fish and giving it a delectable buttery, herby flavor. I usually make salmon with a teriyaki type glaze, but I think I prefer this method.

Baked Salmon with Herb Butter, Green Beans, and Tomatoes

1 lb salmon filet
2-3 cups fresh or frozen green beans (not canned or French cut)
1 container cherry or grape tomatoes
4 Tbsp herb butter (I used Kerrygold Garlic and Herb)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a 9x13" baking dish with cooking spray. Place full or portioned salmon filets in the middle of the dish. Line one side with the green beans and the other with the tomatoes. Place about 1 Tbsp of herb butter on each filet. Drizzle veggies with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat all veggies.

Bake dish for 20-25 minutes until salmon is cooked through and flakes with a fork.



November 10, 2014

Savory Turkey Pumpkin Meatballs

Guess what?

I have a pumpkin recipe for you.

Hint: it's not a dessert.

Give up?

Savory turkey pumpkin meatballs. Mm mmm... Just a hint of pumpkin makes these meatballs fall apart moist. Don't be skeptical; you really can't taste the pumpkin and the oats in the mixture give the meatballs a nice texture. A fall twist on the typical Italian meatball. Serve it up with your favorite sauce and top spaghetti, pizza, or serve alongside some veggies. I bet these would be amazing with pumpkin spaghetti sauce. (Note to self.)

Pumpkin, oats, and sage create a pleasant seasonal flavor. Just a handful of ingredients and you'll have dinner ready in no time.

Turkey Pumpkin Meatballs
Adapted from Dishing Out Health

1 lb package of 94% lean ground turkey
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup old fashioned oats
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3-4 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for cooking
Salt and pepper
Optional sauce: spaghetti sauce or a pumpkin spaghetti sauce to really kick up the fall flavors a notch

Preheat oven to 350F.
Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté for 5-6 minutes until the onions become caramely and golden brown. Add garlic, reduce heat and simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine turkey, pumpkin puree, oats, egg, sage, shallot & garlic mixture, salt and pepper. Mix until combined. Avoid over mixing. Roll meat into 2" balls. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray. Line meatballs ~1 inch apart and bake for ~20 minutes.

While meatballs bake, heat sauce in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add baked meatballs and let simmer in sauce for an additional 20 minutes.

November 6, 2014

Two Fabulously Healthy Pancake Recipes: Cinnabun Pancakes and Carrot Cake Pancakes

Good morning!!

I have been a pancake nut recently. Protein pancakes, that is. I feel like I'm eating dessert for breakfast, yet it's healthy, filling, and full of protein.

Not to mention the options are endless!

I'm going to share two recent concoctions with you, both amazing. Cinnabun and Carrot Cake. (OMG).

Think you're too short on time to make them? If you can throw ingredients into a blender for a protein shake, this is just about as easy. A little more ingredients, and a few minutes on the griddle. 15 minutes tops.

I'll start with the Cinnabun pancakes.

I recently purchased Trutein protein in Cinnabun flavor which I highly recommend. Oh, the possibilities...

You just add oats, Greek yogurt, egg whites, Cinnabun protein powder, baking powder, and almond milk to your blender. Then pour out 1/4 cup at a time onto a hot griddle.

Cinnabun Protein Pancakes
1 serving


1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I used 0% plain)
2 egg whites
1/2 scoop Cinnabun protein powder (you can use vanilla or whatever flavor you want. The Trutein scoop is huge, so if you're using a standard scoop you might want to do 3/4-1 whole scoop)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1-3 Tbsp almond milk (add more or less to reach desired consistency)

Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Add more milk depending on the consistency you want. You don't want super watery or the pancakes will spread and be odd-shaped and thin in the pan. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto medium heat greased griddle and cook for about 2-3 minutes until edges start to brown. Flip and cook another minute until done. Mix 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt with 1 Tbsp of real maple syrup and use as topping. Or use regular maple syrup or other topping of choice. Sprinkle with cinnamon as a garnish.

Moving on...

These pancakes incorporate a veggie into the batter. How's that for healthy? Yet, they taste like heaven.

Classic spicy carrot cake topped with a decadent (yet low fat) cream cheese icing.

This recipe makes enough for two servings, so you can easily warm up the second half for breakfastlunch. ;-)

Check out those little carrots in there. And the dripping cream cheese icing... sigh.

Carrot Cake Protein Pancakes
2 servings

1/4 cup vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup Plain low fat Greek yogurt (or plain vanilla yogurt)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
Pinch Ground ginger and nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice
Pinch Salt
1/2 tsp Baking powder
2 Egg whites
1 cup Old fashioned oats (gluten free if sensitive)
1/2 cup Water
1/3 cup Carrots, chopped fine (these will be blended into the batter. I used pre-shredded carrots from Trader Joe's and just added them to the mix before blending.)
Optional: 2 tbs walnuts, chopped, 2 tbs golden raisins, carrot shreds for topping
4 oz cream cheese, low fat
1-2 Tbsp real maple syrup

Optional Cream Cheese Icing
Whip softened cream cheese and maple syrup together until combined. Add milk to thin out if desired.

Put all ingredients except optional into a blender and blend until smooth. Pulse in additional options if desired.

Heat a non-stick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup of batter per pancake onto the hot griddle and cook until edges start to brown and surface has bubbles. Flip and cook an additional 1-2 minutes until done.

Drizzle with additional cream cheese icing, nuts, cinnamon, and carrots.

Make these! You will not be disappointed.



October 27, 2014

Spicy Basil Chicken Stir Fry

So, today definitely feels like Monday. I woke up at 4:30am and couldn't go back to sleep. What to do... what to do... Aha! Blog post! (I was overdue to post anyway.)

Here you go, folks -- Spicy Basil Chicken Stir Fry. I took this idea from an amazing Thai basil dish I had awhile back. I'm a sucker for anything spicy and with basil. The traditional Asian flavors paired with distinctive basil does something wonderful to my tastebuds.

I found a great rice medley at Trader Joe's to pair with this dish. You can microwave it! How's that for easy?

I used to be really intimidated to make anything Asian inspired. So many ingredients, I thought. I don't know how to stir fry, I said.

But now I have several Asian dishes on my blog. If you can follow directions, you're golden. I promise.

Spicy Basil Chicken Stir Fry
Adapted from Mel's Kitchen

1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (substitute tamari for gluten-free)
5 teaspoons cornstarch, divided (you'll use part of it in the sauce and part for the chicken)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Pinch of red pepper flakes (add more for extra heat)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 - 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 teaspoons vegetable or coconut oil
4 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 medium red onion, diced or cut into thin strips (I used a yellow onion)
1/4 cup fresh basil, torn into pieces
Hot, cooked rice, quinoa or noodles for serving

In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the chicken broth, soy sauce, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, vinegar, red pepper flakes and sugar until smooth. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and remaining 3 teaspoons cornstarch.

In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat until hot and rippling. Add the chicken, breaking up any clumps, and cook until it is golden brown on all sides and just barely cooked through (it will cook a few minutes longer later in the recipe). Scrape the chicken onto a plate, keeping as much liquid in the skillet as possible.

Add the garlic, bell pepper, and onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables are crisp-tender.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet over medium heat. Whisk the sauce quickly before pouring it into the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, while the sauce simmers and thickens, 1-2 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

Sprinkle with basil and serve over rice, noodles, quinoa or by itself.

*The original recipe calls for mango. I omitted because I wanted a savory dish, but feel free to add 1 cup of chopped mango if you wish.



October 13, 2014

Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Besides the infamous pumpkin spice latte, who isn't waiting all year for these?! I know I am. Maybe even a PSL and muffin together? Ok, I might go into a coma from the sugar shock. Nonetheless, I'm sure you can tell what a pumpkin nut I am by this point. I swear I'll back off the pumpkin recipes... soon... probably.

I have to admit, I actually like this recipe a lot more than the actual Starbucks version. To me, Starbucks' version has an odd texture... like super oily? Anyway, I found this version on Crazy for Crust and they are deeeelicious! Delicate with the perfect amount of spice. The little dollop of cream cheese on the top makes these absolutely delightful.

They're simple to whip up. After you pour the batter in each muffin cup, simply add the cream cheese mixture right on top and bake.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Adapted from Crazy for Crust


1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Cream cheese filling
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pumpkin Seeds, optional (I didn't use these, but if you want to be extra copycatty, feel free to add them right before baking)


Preheat oven to 350°. Line muffin tins with liners.

Stir pumpkin, oil, and sugar together in a large bowl. Do this by hand - don’t use a mixer. Stir in eggs, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and baking soda. Stir in 1 cup flour, then stir in milk, then stir in remaining 1 cup flour. Divide evenly among muffin pans, filling each liner 1/2 full.

Stir together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Drop 1 tablespoon onto the top of each muffin. Sprinkle with 4-5 pumpkin seeds, optional.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the muffin part comes out with just a few crumbs stuck too it.

Cool at least 5 minutes before serving. Store in refrigerator. I left mine out overnight to serve the next day, but be careful because of the cream cheese.


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