Superberry Smoothie Bowl

How is everyone doing on New Year’s Resolutions?  Losing steam?  Me too.  I went out for all 3 meals yesterday (terrible!) and may have had 1 more glass of wine than was strictly necessary.

I truly do believe that life is about balance, though, and so rather than beat myself up over yesterday’s indulgences, I woke up excited to make a breakfast full of nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber.  Doesn’t hurt to make it easy on the eyes, either.

This breakfast was light and filling at the same time.  A sweet way to start the day.

Superberry Breakfast Bowl

Ingredients:
– 1 cup frozen blackberries
– 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
– 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
– 3 pineapple rings (from a can)
– a generous handful of parsley leaves
– 2 tsp potato starch (optional, a great prebiotic!)
– 2 tsp MCT oil
– 1 tsp greens powder (I use Vitamineral Green)
– a few pinches bee pollen, for sprinkling
– goji berries, for sprinkling

Blend up all but the last few ingredients and pour into a bowl.

Top your bowl with the bee pollen and goji berries.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Banana Walnut Muffins and a Shameful Secret

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I had to cut out the back row of my muffin pan on this picture because I messily devoured one of these right as it came out of the oven.  Crumbs EVERYWHERE.

No, that’s not my shameful secret.  The secret is that the original recipe for these muffins comes from the newest batch of beachy treats from the Tone it Up girls.  “Who are they?” you might ask.  Meaning that you have never been a woman with a mission to look better naked and hours of internet time to spend searching for just the thing to get you motivated to FINALLY eat right and work out regularly.  Good for you.

I think I stumbled onto the Tone it Up website after a meal of grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream.  I wasn’t feeling to good about myself and the website’s impossibly girly aesthetic drew me right in.  It was a nice change from all the paleo sites I usually frequent.  It’s run by Karena and Katrina, a pair of Southern California best friends and personal trainers whose mission is to help you become a “beach babe”.

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Yeah, I kind of wanted to barf, too.  But I also kind of wanted to BE them. So I kept visiting the website, joined the online community, and coughed up a stupid amount of money for their nutrition plan.  Never mind the fact that I almost never go to the beach and when I do, it’s in Oregon so I’m dressed like this.

With my mom, in July.

With my mom, in July.

Oh well, everyone has to have their guilty pleasures and the muffins are pretty good.

Chocolate Banana Walnut Muffins
adapted from Tone it Up
makes 12

Ingredients
– 1 cup brown rice flour
– 1/4 cup xylitol
– 1/4 cup brown sugar
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
– 1/2 cup cocoa powder
– 2 bananas, mashed
– 3 Tbsp maple syrup
– 3 drops vanilla-flavored stevia
– 1 1/4 cups milk
– 5 Tbsp melted coconut oil
– 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds
– 2 tsp baking soda
– 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
– 1/2 cup toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, xylitol, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, protein, and cocoa powder.  In a separate bowl, mix bananas, maple syrup, stevia, milk, coconut oil, and flax seeds.

Mix baking soda and apple cider vinegar together in a small bowl, let fizz and add to the wet ingredients.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just blended.  Fold in walnuts.

Divide batter among 12 muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes.

Banana, Chocolate, and Hazelnut Muffins (Gluten-Free)

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I think it’s been too long since I’ve posted a tasty baked item on this blog.  I’m not sure why that is.  I always seem to have some kind of homemade treat lying around the house.  Perhaps the issue is that I’m always on a mission to “health-ify” my baked goods.  I’ll adjust flours, fats, and sugar content until I end up with something I don’t have to feel too bad about eating every day.  The problem is, I often end up with something that perhaps not everyone will appreciate.  I end up with healthy-tasting cakes, brownies, cookies, etc that just can’t compete with the utterly Southern pound cake shipped to us by Jeremy’s mother.  Or if I make something AMAZING it gets eaten up and I don’t take any pictures (that was the fate of a recent lemon custard pie).

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So I feel pretty proud about having gotten things together for this post.  These muffins are good enough to inhale in an afternoon, but recent New Year’s resolutions have allowed them to stick around for a few extra days to be photographed and savored.  The recipe is adapted from the gluten-free cookbook La Tartine Gourmande, which I can’t recommend highly enough.  Just as in her blog, the recipes and photos are a delicious inspiration.  Everything I have made from the book has turned out beautifully.

Last year: Danish(?) Trabak (which I have now learned is probably “Tvebakker”)

Banana, Chocolate, and Hazelnut Muffins
makes 12 muffins

1/3 cup hazelnuts, soaked and dried if possible (benefits of soaking nuts here)
2 eggs
1/2 cup xylitol (or you can use regular sugar)
8 Tbs butter, melted
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup hazelnut flour (you can make this by simply grinding about 1 cup hazelnuts)
1/2 cup white rice flour
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Toast hazelnuts until lightly browned.  Place in a kitchen towel and roll to remove some of the skins.  Roughly chop them and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare 12 muffin cups with paper liners or cooking fat of choice.

Beat eggs and xylitol together in a large bowl.  Add melted butter and yogurt and whisk until well combined.  In a separate bowl, combine flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda, lightly mixing.  Add to the wet ingredients and stir just until mixed together.  Add banana, hazelnuts, and chocolate and stir in.

Divide the batter among the muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool and serve with a healthy pat of coconut oil or butter.

Nourishing Italian Ragù

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone was able to enjoy a relaxing holiday last month.  My December felt so busy that I didn’t feel I got much of a break until the last few days!  Between my new nursing job, a trip to visit family and friends in Minnesota, and attempts to carve out some quality time with my boyfriend, I’ve been running around like a madwoman.  Luckily, I’ve been able to spend the last few days at home with no agenda other than some light housework, cooking, and catching up on some much needed sleep.  Perhaps other new nurses can attest to the utter energy wreckage that happens after a few busy shifts?  I’ve been reassured by my co-workers that this is completely normal in the first few months of being an R.N.

Along with the New Year come the inevitable resolutions.  I’ve stopped making a big deal of them because I am the kind of person who seems to have a new resolution every week. But, of course, I am hoping that January will be a good time to focus on cleaning up my diet.  Like most people, I ate with abandon last month and now feel ready for a healthy change.

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Luckily, I just finished a wonderful book called The Perfect Health Diet by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet.  It takes a Paleo-esque type of approach but seems a bit more carb-friendly than some other versions of the diet that I have seen.  It’s exquisitely researched and seems quite do-able and so I’ve decided to give their advice a go.  I’ve managed to stick to their recommendations for a whole 2 days now (sadly, this is better than I’m able to do on most diets) without feeling hungry or having overwhelming cravings for unhealthy foods.  We’ll see if this is the case in a few months.

This ragù was the first dish I prepared with the Jaminet’s principles in mind.  It has a healthy portion of veggies, organic beef, and small amounts of sardines and liverwurst for good measure.  If you don’t have those last two ingredients or feel wary of them, feel free to leave them out.  Because the Perfect Health Diet is gluten-free, I opted to serve the sauce over boiled potatoes.  Rice noodles would be another good option.  Apparently meat and potatoes are coming back into style 🙂

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Nourishing Italian Ragù
adapted from Pinch and Swirl

– 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
– 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
– 2 carrots, diced
– 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
– 1 pound ground beef (I used 5% fat)
– 1 cup red wine
– 1 jar tomato sauce
– 1 can sardines in tomato sauce (about 4 oz), optional
– 1/2 cup chopped liverwurst, optional
– 1 bunch collard greens, finely chopped
– salt, to taste

– boiled potatoes, for serving
– olive oil, for serving

Saute onion, pepper, carrots and celery over medium high heat until vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.  Add ground beef and sauté until browned.  Pour in wine and allow to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Add tomato sauce, sardines, liverwurst and collard greens to the pot.  Cover and allow to simmer for about 1 hour.

Serve over potatoes or noodles with a healthy drizzle of olive oil over everything.

Vegetable-Packed Miso Soup

Today, I needed to take a break of all the holiday indulgences I’ve been enjoying.  They’ve been impossible to avoid.  I baked my first pie this week, the break room at work has been littered with cookies and candy, and yesterday we got a package in the mail straight from Jeremy’s mom in Georgia with southern-style holiday treats.  I recently heard that the average American gains 1-2 pounds during the holiday season each year.  Which doesn’t sound like a lot…except that most of us never lose it again.  Add that up over the course of a few decades and you’ve got a pretty sizeable problem.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to sit here and tell you to deprive yourself of all the sweetness that the holiday season brings.  I am the worst (THE WORST!) at staying away from tempting goodies.  For me, the best solution is to load up on healthy foods when I can so that I’m simply not that hungry when I’m faced with items that don’t fit into my healthy eating plan.  Yeah, I’ll still eat them, but I’ll have smaller portions.

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This soup, with its nourishing veggies and umami-filled broth is a good way to step back from the holiday fray…so you’ll be even more ready to fully enjoy that holiday meal.  I used bonito flakes in the broth for a more authentic miso flavor.  You can find them at a well-stocked asian grocery store, but feel free to substitute low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth (the miso and soy sauce will add plenty of their own saltiness at the end).

Miso Soup with Vegetables
makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
– 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
– 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
– 1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
– 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
– 6 cups water
– 2 cups lightly packed bonito flakes
– 3 carrots, halved and sliced
– 2 heads baby bok choy, thinly sliced
– 1 block medium-firm tofu, cut into small cubes
– 3 Tbs miso paste
– soy sauce, to taste

1. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms and sauté until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Add ginger and garlic, cook 1 minute longer.

2. Add water.  Place bonito flakes in a mesh container (I used a nut-milk bag) and immerse in the water to steep.  You just want to be able to remove the flakes once they’ve imparted their flavor.  Add carrots and white sections of bok choy and simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Lower heat and remove bonito flakes.  Add leafy sections of bok choy and stir until wilted.  Add tofu.

4. Ladle some broth into a bowl and add miso paste.  Stir until miso has dissolved and return to stock pot.  Taste and add soy sauce, if desired.

Quick Pickled Onions

I was so excited when, at the grocery store last week, I noticed the first of this season’s walla walla onions.  For those who’ve never have them, walla walla onions are an incredibly sweet, ridiculously huge variety of onion grown in and around Walla Walla, Washington (yes, real place).  They have a short shelf life and are only available this time of year and so they are quite a treat.

I bought one without having any plans for it and proceeded to let it sit on my counter for a few days.  My favorite way to enjoy walla wallas is to grill them and put them on a burger.  But it has been way to HOT to grill, if you can believe it, and I began to worry that this precious onion would go to waste.  That’s when I got the idea to pickle it.  While red onions are usually the ones I see turned into pickles (so good on sandwiches, salad, and tacos!), I decided that the walla walla would be a perfect variation.  And I was right.

Quick Pickled Onions
adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients
– 1 onion, thinly sliced (walla walla or red would work well)
– 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
– 1 cup water
– 1 Tbsp sugar
– 1 1/2 tsp salt

In a large jar, mix vinegar, water, sugar, and salt until dissolved.  Add onion to the jar, place the lid on top and shake until the onion has been coated.  Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

* I added this post to this week’s Fresh Bites Friday and Thriving on Thursday.

And the winner is… (plus a smoothie)

Today I’m excited to announce the winner of my first-ever giveaway.  For those who missed it, it was sponsored by the site/app Slimkicker and they wanted your ideas about fun and creative fitness challenges that their users can implement in daily life.  We got some great responses and Slimkicker has chosen Camila’s challenge to sponsor on their site.  Camila’s response was “to slow down while you exercise. Lots of people just rush thru their workout without actually focusing and concentrating on the movements.”  Congratulations, Camila, you’ve won the Ozeri professional kitchen scale!  You can email team@slimkicker.com to claim your prize!

And after sweating it out at the gym (or in your 100+ degree apartment) you can cool yourself off with this blueberry-cucumber smoothie.  Seriously, so necessary on days like today.

Help!  What’s your favorite way to cool off on a hot summer day?

Blueberry-Cucumber Smoothie
serves 1

Ingredients
– 1 cup frozen blueberries
– 1 medium cucumber, sliced
– 1 cup spinach (optional)
– 1 Tbsp coconut oil
– 1 tsp matcha powder (optional)
– 1/2 cup water

Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth.  Drink cold.

* I shared this post with this week’s Real Food Wednesday, Gluten-Free WednesdaySlightly Indulgent TuesdayFat Tuesday and Monday Mania.