July 26, 2014

Baked Pumpkin Pie Oats

Is it too early for fall foods? Not for me! I could eat pumpkin year round... and I do!

In a month and a half, it'll be September, which is technically fall, right?

This is a filling and tasty breakfast food (or snack or dinner) that you can make ahead and warm up. Great for rushed mornings.

Drizzle a little pure maple syrup and it is divine. Other than that, it contains no added sugars. The natural sweetness from the bananas and maple syrup are perfect. It is a hardy breakfast full of protein and fiber, not to mention pumpkin.

First, you'll line a greased baking dish with 2 sliced bananas and drizzle with syrup. Bake for 10 minutes. While baking, you mix the oat ingredients together and simply pour on. Bake for another 35 minutes and enjoy!

Baked Pumpkin Pie Oats

2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
2 small-medium sized ripe bananas, sliced
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup liquid egg whites
1/4 cup pure maple syrup, divided
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 cups milk of choice; I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a baking dish with cooking spray or butter. Slice 2 bananas and line pan with the slices. Drizzle bananas with half of the maple syrup. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together all wet ingredients. I used an electric mixer, but you can use a handheld or good ole' fashioned hand mixing. Whisk dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then slowly combine dry with the wet. When bananas are done, pour oat mixture on top. Bake for about 35 minutes until center doesn't appear gooey.

Remove from oven and drizzle remaining maple syrup on top. Spread with a spoon. It will look shiny and wet at first, but in the morning the syrup will have been soaked in. Eat right away or warm up for a quick snack.

Just after pouring on the syrup.

The next day after the syrup has soaked in.



July 22, 2014

30 Minute Easy Pepper Steak

So, I don't personally eat red meat. However, my boyfriend does and since we live together, I like to indulge him every once in awhile. He eats a lot of chicken. ;-)

I found this recipe for a simple sounding Asian pepper steak stir fry and decided to surprise him. He loved it! So, based on his opinion, this recipe is a keeper.

I never cook red meat so I was a little nervous, but this might just be the simplest way ever! I bought a pound of flank steak and sliced it into thin strips. Marinate the steak with some soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, corn starch, and of course pepper. Slice up some bell peppers, green onions, ginger, and garlic. Stir fry it all together and that's it! Serve with rice or quinoa on the side. Not counting the marination time for the steak, this took a mere 30 minutes. I'd say that's worth all the smiles and kisses I got from Greg when he walked in on a steak dinner. :-)

I just love all the colors in this. You could easily sub out the steak with chicken, shrimp, or tofu. If you do, let me know how it is! I'll have to try it sometime.

30 Minute Pepper Steak Stir Fry

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

Pepper Steak:
1 lb thinly sliced pepper steak (I sliced it myself and bought the steak at my local Sprouts)
2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
Multi colored bell peppers, thinly sliced (I used those precious mini ones that come in a bag, about 10 if you use those)
2 green onions (thinly sliced, separating the white from the green)
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger (I am not a big fan of ginger so I put a little less)
4 garlic cloves, minced

Add all marinade ingredients to a gallon sized bag or a large bowl. Stir to combine, then add sliced steak. Make sure all steak is covered in the marinade and refrigerate. I let it sit for about an hour.

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the sliced peppers, white part of the onions, ginger and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Remove veggies and set aside.

Add half the steak with a spoon with holes to conserve the marinade and saute for 2-3 minutes until browned. Toss steak to ensure both sides cook. Remove and set aside with veggies. Repeat with the remaining steak. Add reserved marinade to the pan and saute until thickened for about 1 minute. Add all veggies, steak, and the green part of the onions and stir to combine for an additional minute. Remove from heat.

Serve over rice or quinoa or eat a side of veggies. I sprinkled sesame seeds for looks.



July 15, 2014

Strawberry Avocado Salad with Toasted Walnut Vinaigrette


I hope all my readers are enjoying the summertime. I've been trying to slowly redecorate my apartment, but it's hard on a part time income. Do any of you guys have tips for inexpensive websites or shops for home decor?

Besides redecorating, I've been eating a lot of salads lately and I stumbled upon this deliciously healthy strawberry avocado salad with the most amazing toasted walnut dressing. I found the original recipe here, but adapted it slightly.

It looks so beautiful doesn't it? All those colors mean lots of great nutrients!

I highly encourage you to make the dressing. There is something mystical that happens with the coconut oil and balsamic vinegar... you must try it!

Strawberry Avocado Salad with Toasted Walnut Vinaigrette

1 bag of a spring lettuce mix
1/2 cup halved or chopped walnuts
1/2 cup of sliced strawberries
1/2 avocado
1 Tbsp coconut oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Juice from half a lemon or 1 Tbsp
S & P to taste

Heat coconut oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add walnuts and toast for 5 minutes; toss often to prevent burning. Remove pan from heat and add balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Allow to cool while you make salad. Pour or spoon dressing over salad and toss. Makes approx. 4 side salads are 2 large.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


July 7, 2014

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Summertime means an abundance of zucchini! And some BIG ones. While I love me some fresh sauteed or roasted zuchs, y'all do know I like to put them in baked goods right?

Last night, I whipped up a big ole' chocolate zucchini cake. And let me tell you, no zucchini could be detected! (Unless you look really closely and notice some green specks.)

But wait -- there's more!

The zucchini isn't just there for grins. This is actually a lightened up chocolate cake, with way less calories than a traditional cake. I subbed Greek yogurt for oil, and there are no eggs in this recipe.

The result was a slightly more dense cake, but that was sweet and delicious without all the guilt.

See? You can barely even see the zucchini, and trust me, you certainly can't taste it.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

For the cake:
1/2 cup low fat plain Greek yogurt
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded zucchini (1 large or 2 small zucchinis)
1 tablespoon water*
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

For the frosting:
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup butter, softened
1.5 cups powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp milk of choice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the yogurt, sugar, and vanilla until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir. Add the zucchini and mix until just combined; do not overmix. If your mixture is still very powdery, add up to 1/4 cup hot water (start with 1 tablespoon and work up from there, stirring well after each addition). It will be drier than a normal cake batter.
Bake 25-30 minutes until the brownies spring back when gently touched.

To make the frosting: Mix softened butter, cocoa, and powdered sugar with a hand mixer. Mix in milk and vanilla. Spread over cooled brownies. Cut into squares.
Adapted from Crazy for Crust

Now you can have your cake and eat it too... without the guilt! :-)


July 5, 2014

(Turkey) Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato Sandwich

My tomato plant has been faithfully producing some delicious and sweet Early Girl tomatoes for the past month or two.

Aren't they so cute?

We also have a ton of homegrown avocados from Greg's parents. They are the BEST avocados I've ever had. We try to use them up before they become overripe, but they all seem to wanna ripen at the same time.

Anyhow, I was craving turkey bacon the other day and I decided to make a healthified BLT sandwich. My mom is a huge fan of BLTs, ones that come on toasted white bread with a stack of pork bacon and a slathering of mayo. That's not quite my cup of tea. ;-)

So I modified this traditional sandwich by incorporating much healthier turkey bacon with mashed avocado to replace the mayo and a hearty whole grain bread.

This sandwich might be just about the best lunch you could eat. You meet your carb, protein, veggie, and healthy fats all for only 300 calories. What a deal! You'll get 24g of protein as well, which will keep you feeling full and your blood sugar stable.

The next day I was still on my turkey bacon kick so I swapped out the lettuce for some egg, for a breakfast sandwich.

This little baby is about 390 calories and 32 g protein. A perfectly balance breakfast of champs.

Happy Fourth of July, belated!


July 1, 2014

Caprese Chicken


One thing I can't get enough of in the summer is fresh, juicy, perfectly ripe tomatoes. I love dishes that feature tomatoes as the star. Keep reading for my Caprese Chicken recipe...

Caprese Chicken

4 skinless chicken breasts
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced (I just used jarred minced garlic)
4 roma tomatoes (any tomato will work)
10 large basil leaves, finely chopped
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced in 1/2 inch thick slices
balsamic vinegar, to taste

Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts and set aside.

I decided to grill my chicken breasts, but you could also saute or bake them.

While chicken is cooking, in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add tomatoes and continue sautéing until tomatoes skin starts to soften/wrinkle, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil. Set aside.

Once chicken has reached desired doneness, top each chicken breast with 2 slices of mozzarella and let sit on covered grill until cheese has melted. Plate chicken and pour tomato mixture on top. Drizzle with a bit of balsamic vinegar and serve.

Check out this post to see how I cooked these beautifully colored heirloom carrots.

Happy summer!

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