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.

Summer Vegetable Salad with Quinoa and Pickled Cherry Tomatoes

My oh my, I can’t believe it’s been almost a week since I put up my last recipe.  Between wrapping things up for graduation (I finish in 2 weeks!) and lying in pools my own sweat (ew) in my hot apartment, I’ve been seriously lacking in energy lately.  I tend to believe that there are few problems a good helping of nutrition can’t solve…does anyone have any good tips for breaking out of a low-energy slump?  If so, I’d love to hear them.

Because of the recent temperatures and my unfortunate lack of air-conditioning, I’ve been focusing on creating meals that require little, if any, cooking, baking, or boiling.  While this one does not completely fit that mold, it comes pretty close and the leftovers kept me happy for days.  I even ate a few servings for breakfast with a fried egg on top.

This recipe was inspired by a similar one from Whipped.  I changed the ingredients based on what I had in my kitchen and I omitted the mozzarella because…well, I was dealing with the discovery that I now have cellulite on my thighs.  I really recommend taking an extra few minutes to make the pickled cherry tomatoes.  They provide amazing little bursts of flavor and are easy to make.

Summer Vegetable Salad with Quinoa and Pickled Cherry Tomatoes
makes 8 servings
adapted from Whipped

Ingredients
– 1/2 cup quinoa
– 1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
– 1 cup diced zucchini (about 1/2 large)
– 1 ear corn, kernel removed
– 1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
– 2 handfuls spinach, roughly chopped
– 1 cup pickled tomatoes (see recipe below)
– 1 Tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
– 1 Tbsp olive oil
– 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
– salt, to taste

Start by pickling the cherry tomatoes.  They will need at least an hour for the flavors to come together.

In a large bowl, toss vegetables together.  Drizzle with oil and vinegar and toss again.  Finish with a sprinkle of salt.

Pickled Cherry Tomatoes
adapted from Plate to Plate

Ingredients
– 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
– 3/4 cup water
– 4 tsp salt
– 2 tsp sugar
– a pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
– 2 garlic cloves, gently crushed
– 1 tsp red pepper flakes

Mix vinegar, water, salt, and sugar together until salt and sugar are dissolved. Mix the halved tomatoes, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Pack gently into a glass jar and pour vinegar mixture over until covered.  Replace the lid, give it a few good shakes, and leave it at room temperature for 1-3 hours.

Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

* I shared this link with this week’s Fat Tuesday and Traditional Tuesday.

Smart Cookies (with protein!)

I go back and forth on the whole concept of protein powder.  Sure, it’s an easy add-in for the morning smoothie and it can help keep me satiated until lunch.  BUT, protein powders are expensive, often contain unnatural ingredients, and can taste like, well, butt.  So lately I’ve been choosing to avoid them and to rely on eggs, nuts, meats, and raw milk for my protein.  In the meantime, a very expensive bag of protein powder has been wasting away in my cupboard.

This is the Vanilla SunWarrior Warrior Blend protein.  I bought it after trying a free sample and I thought I was in love.  When my whole 2 pound bag came in the mail, though, I found that my tastebuds had done a complete switch.  I found it to be just tolerable and, a few weeks later, not even that.  By the time I was halfway through the bag, I hated the stuff.  And so we’ve been at an impasse, with me unable to either consume it or throw it away (I figure there’s a good $20 worth of product still in that bag!).  BTW, I’m not trying to point out SunWarrior as having a worse-than-average product.  Based on the online reviews, it seems that most people love it…just a matter of taste.

This long story is to tell you that  these cookies finally vindicated my purchase.  When baked into these hearty cookies, I find the Warrior Blend to be absolutely amazing.  It lends a nice, sweet vanilla flavor and plenty of healthy staying power.  Next time I make these, I may even increase the amount of protein and decrease the whole wheat flour, just to see what I end up with.  Use your favorite (or maybe least favorite) brand and whip these up for quick breakfasts or snacks.

Have you ever found a way to repurpose something that was languishing in your cupboards?

Smart Cookies
makes 12-15 large cookies
adapted from Blissful Bites

Ingredients:
– 1/4 cup coconut oil
– 1/4 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
– 2 Tbsp peanut butter
– 1/4 cup honey
– 1 egg
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 1/2 tsp almond extract
– 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/2 cup vanilla protein powder (I used Warrior Blend)
– 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
– 1/2 cup dried cherries
– 1/4 hazelnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.  Beat oil, milk, peanut butter, honey, egg, and vanilla and almond extracts until smooth.  Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and protein.  Mix until thoroughly combined.  Fold in oats, cherries, and hazelnuts.

Form cookies with large scoops of dough and place them on a nonstick baking sheet.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until beginning to brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

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.

Cherry Tomato Focaccia

Bread-making is something of a tradition in my family.  My grandma, Alice, was famous in her Minnesota town for the making and sharing her perfect loaves of sandwich bread.  We would often spend part of our summer vacations at her lake cabin catching frogs, wakeboarding behind my uncle’s speedboat, and helping Alice make bread.  I still remember how satisfying it was to watch the dough slowly rise and then to punch it back down.  When my grandma passed away, each of the grandchildren were allowed to choose one item from her house (the same one my mom grew up in) to remember her by.  I took the enormous, battered bread pan.

My mom started her own tradition of making bread as a way to remember grandma Alice and she has become quite accomplished at it.  I gave it a few tries in my first post-college kitchens without much success.  I would have trouble getting the dough to rise, it would come out too dry, or after a day of work and care I would burn it.  I decided that perhaps I just wasn’t a baker and gave up for a while.  And then I made this focaccia.

Ok, so I burned it just a little but otherwise it was amazing.  I couldn’t believe that bread with such flavor and such a dense, springy crumb had come out of my kitchen.  On top of that, it was easy!  You make it over two days, which helped me sidestep the problem of bread-making becoming an all day project.  You just put the dough together, set it in the fridge, and forget about it until you have time to bake it the next day.

Who knows, maybe I’ll be tackling (and mastering) grandma Alice’s bread recipe next!

Cherry Tomato Focaccia
makes 1 large loaf
recipe adapted from the August issue of Vegetarian Times

Bread:
– 3 1/2 cups high-gluten bread flour, plus more for kneading
– 1 tsp instant yeast (you will need water and sugar to activate it)
– 2 tsp salt
– 1 Tbsp sugar
– 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for the bowl and the pan

Topping:
– 2 Tbsp olive oil
– 1 tsp thyme, chopped
– 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
– 1/2 tsp coarse salt

On the first day, activate yeast according to package directions.  Place flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and mix.  Add activated yeast, olive oil and 1 cup of water.  Use your hands to mix together until a soft, shaggy dough forms.  It should be quite soft and sticky, but still knead-able.  Add a little more flour if it seems too sticky.  Knead gently for a couple of minutes and then pour some olive oil over the dough so that it does not stick to the bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap or a cloth and set in the refrigerator to rise overnight.

The next day, take the dough out a few hours before you plan to bake it so it can reach room temperature.  Preheat the oven to 450 F.  Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper and gently stretch the dough into a large rectangle.  Let it rest for about 10 minutes and stretch a little bit more, dimple-ing the top with your fingers.  Drizzle 2 Tbsp olive oil over the top, sprinkle with salt, and press cherry tomatoes, sliced side up, into the dough.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

* I shared this post with this week’s Foodie FridayMelt In Your Mouth Monday, Mix it Up Monday, and My Meatless Monday.

Totally Addictive Tali Sauce

What you see here is the last serving of the condiment that saved my week.  If you don’t live in Portland, OR you may never have heard of Tali sauce.  This creamy, lemony, garlicky wonder was one of the first culinary delights I fell in love when when I moved to this city 5 years ago.  It’s served at The Whole Bowl, a downtown food cart, and it has the amazing ability to turn a plain ol’ bowl of rice and beans into something extraordinary.  Of course, they don’t just give their recipe away, but I managed to find a good approximation at The Improbable Farmer blog.

Part of the amazing flavor comes from nutritional yeast, which I once heard described as catnip for vegans.  I thought that was hilariously accurate.  Moving on.

I’ve been enjoying this with brown rice, pinto beans, and avocado.  It’s also good with a chicken breast and steamed broccoli.  And I’m about to sauté some zucchini to eat with the last of it.  The point is that you can let your imagination run wild.  May your lunch never taste boring again.

Tali Sauce
adapted from The Improbable Farmer

Ingredients:
– 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1/2 cup cooked pinto (or garbanzo) beans
– 3 garlic cloves
– 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
– 1/4 cup water
– 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
– 1/4 cup lemon juice

Place all ingredients in the blender.  Blend on high for a few minutes until smooth.  Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

* I shared this post with this week’s Fresh Bites FridayWellness WeekendSimple Lives Thursday and Pennywise Platter.

Homemade Coconut Milk

It seems that in the last year or so, coconut has taken the country by storm.  Everywhere I look, someone is touting the health benefits of this wonder-food and creatively using it in their kitchens.  Coconut milk is now one of the most popular dairy alternatives on the market today.  Coconut cream, coconut oil, coconut butter, palm sugar, and coconut flour are now ubiquitous.  And I am completely on board.

Recently I began to wonder if there was a way to make a few of the coconut grocery staples in my own kitchen.  This coconut milk is the first of my experiments and it was a success!  It’s delicious, creamy, and versatile.  You can use it in smoothies, on cereal, or in baked goods.  On top of that, it’s a simple way to save money and packaging.  Stay tuned for my adventures making coconut flour out of the leftover pulp!

Homemade Coconut Milk
makes about 5 cups

Ingredients
– 2 cups dried unsweetened coconut flakes
– 6 cups water

Place coconut  flakes in a large bowl.  Boil 3 cups of water and pour over flakes.  Stir and allow to stand until mixture has reached room temperature.

Place coconut mixture in a high-speed blender.  Add 3 remaining cups of water and blend for 1-2 minutes, until liquid is white and only small (sand-sized) bits of the coconut flakes remain.  Use a nut milk bag (a strainer may also work but the coconut milk may be more gritty) to strain liquid out of remaining solids.

Store in a clean glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

* I added this post to this week’s Wellness Weekend, Fresh Bites FridayFull Plate Thursday, Pennywise Platter, and Simple Lives Thursday.

Asian Kale Salad with Tofu

It wasn’t until I started using kale in salads that I realized that leafy things could really make a satisfying lunch.  In general, I have to admit to not being in love with raw vegetables.  Sure, I’ll snack on some carrots in order to feel healthy and I’ll choke down a restaurant salad if I’ve been overindulging, but the raw things just don’t really tempt me a whole lot.  But there are a few exceptions.

I ate this almost every day last week and was actually disappointed when I ran out of my ingredients.  The combination of kale, marinated tofu, crunchy spring vegetables, and mildly spicy (is that an oxymoron?) dressing made this salad one I could look forward to.  It came together in very little time, making it perfect for a busy first week of the summer school term.  And unlike salads with more delicate leafy greens, I could make this in the morning and it wouldn’t be soggy at lunch.  Excellent.

Let’s talk just a minute about kale.  Kale is a nutritional powerhouse that belongs to the cruciferous family.  It’s an excellent source of vitamins K, A, and C (obligatory nurse-y note: too much Vitamin K can actually be harmful if you’re on an anticoagulant drug like Warfarin…talk to your prescriber before drastically changing you intake of leafy greens) as well as antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.  It’s been shown to have anti-cancer properties and it can assist in lowering cholesterol.  In other words, you should eat it.

Asian Kale Salad with Tofu
serves 1
adapted from Vegetarian Times Magazine

Ingredients
– 1 tsp grape seed oil (olive oil would work, too)
– 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
– 2 tsp rice vinegar
– 1 tsp honey
– 1 tsp soy sauce
– 1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce (I used this kind)
– 3-4 leaves of green kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
– 1/2 cup shredded carrots
– a small handful fresh shelled peas
– 1/4 cucumber, diced
– 3 oz. Thai-flavored baked tofu, sliced (Wildwood brand is fantastic)

Make the dressing.  Combine sesame oil, vinegar, honey, soy sauce, and chili garlic sauce in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Place kale in a large bowl and drizzle with grape seed oil.  Using your hands, “massage” the kale for about a minute until it is softened.  Toss with dressing, carrots, peas, and cucumber.

Plate the salad and top with tofu.

* I shared this salad with Melt in Your Mouth Monday and My Meatless Mondays.