Archive | September, 2011

Grrrranola!

30 Sep

Sorry about that, I miss Tony the tiger.  Is he still around? 🙂

I have to admit, there was a time when granola ruled my life.  The amount I would consume on a daily basis was borderline embarrassing.  One day,  I took a step back and reevaluated my relationship with it, and since then have been working on eating normal amounts – like a normal person!  It also helped that I tried everything in my power to not turn the oven on during the summer months (even with the air on, it gets too hot), and I had become so accustomed to my granola, that I didn’t really enjoy the premade stuff that we could get at the store.  Therefore, this is my first batch of granola since May!  So exciting!  What is better than a food that you can make yourself, exactly to your liking?  I don’t enjoy nuts in my granola (odd?), but I love shredded coconut in it.  You put only the ingredients you enjoy in it, and can decide your own measurements based on your liking.  Anyway, this is my go-to granola recipe which I kicked up a bit for fall.  I believe I said I was going to cool it with the pumpkin recipes, right?  Well, I lied!  Next few posts will be pumpkin-free, I promise… Maybe 😉
 
Fall Granola
Yield: about 4 cups
 
Ingredients:

3 cups rolled oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill GF)
½ cup shredded coconut
¼ cup peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice)
¼ cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup honey
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ cup chopped dark chocolate

½ cup craisins (or any dried-fruit)

* I also added 2 tbsp chia seeds and 1/4 cup of ground flax, but this is optional

 Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients except for craisins.  Once everything is fully incorporated, spread granola evenly on a baking sheet.  Place in oven for 10 minutes.  Take out and flip the granola around a bit for even baking (this also will spread the melted chocolate around so you get those yummy clusters).  Place back in oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  While granola is cooling, sprinkle the craisins evenly over your batch. 

*I should mention that I ran out of craisins, so these pictures reflect my naked, craisin-free granola

Before Baking

After Baking

 Granola Perfection!

This is going to be a problem, I feel my old habits coming back already!
 
Do you have any foods that make you weak?  What are they?

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Healthy Meal on the Go

28 Sep

As I have already mentioned many times, I’m a busy gal.  Before school started and my weekends started filling up like crazy, it was easy for me to post new recipes multiple times a week.  However, as much as we would all love to cook a home-cooked meal or bake something every day, it’s just not possible.  Sometimes we have to suck it up and pick up food while we are out running around doing whatever it is we have to get done.  The problem is that it often seems really hard to find fresh, nutritious food – and even harder to find it at a cheap price.  I mean, remember my Panera post?  $5.50 for a bowl of soup that is filled with sodium and preservatives.  So this post is for those who are determined to eat well and stay within their budget when they have to grab food to go.  It is possible.
Last night, I was in class and Steve sent me a text that he was going to Whole Foods to pick something up for dinner, and asked if I wanted anything for when I got home.  Um, yes!  He knows what I like, so I left him in charge of picking what was for dinner.  When I got home, I saw that he had bought 6 huge pieces of fresh turkey with spices rubbed on (I mean big, thick, meaty pieces), and a half pint of a whole foods specialty salad.  It had brown rice, quinoa, corn, bell peppers, basil, and scallions.  It was such a good, filling, and healthy dinner – we even had leftovers!  The best part is that the grand total was $12.  For two dinners and a lunch. I’ll take $4 for a quality meal any day!    Like many others, I absolutely love Whole Foods prepared food section.  They have so many options – whether you’re looking for pizza, healthy, wheat-free, vegan, comfort food, whatever, they have it and it is all so good!  I also like that they list the ingredients on every single name tag, so you know exactly what you are eating – and it is never scary, always fresh ingredients.  Even if you typically don’t do your food shopping at Whole Foods, if you are looking for a quick, healthy, and delicious lunch or dinner, try popping in.  I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

Don’t you just love our stylish Shop Rite brand paper plates? 😉

These were the BBQ sauces that we gave for our wedding favors. If you're ever in Lake Placid, stop by Tail O' the Pup - they have the best bbq and a really fun atmosphere!

*Please excuse the poor pictures, I was rushing!*

I think this is an important topic that deserves attention, so I’m going to continue to write about how to be healthy when dining out as I come across different situations. 
Stay tuned, I have some recipes coming up that I am very excited about 😉
 
Do you have any go-to spots for fresh, cheap food?

Pumpkin Pie Soft Serve

26 Sep

I know I’ve been gone for a few days, but I’ve been busy trying to get over my illness and catching up on schoolwork.  Today is Steve’s birthday and I had school until 8, so I’m going to make this post quick so I can hang out with him while it’s still his birthday!
Last night, I wanted something cool and refreshing because it was so hot and muggy out.  I’m also still trying to kick this bug, so I wanted it to be somewhat healthy.  Ok, that and the fact that I went to an Oktoberfest festival earlier in the day and ate a gigantic piece of beehive cake, which had about a 3 inch layer of bavarian cream.

So after this, I couldn’t stomach any more refined sugar.  I know I’ve been a little crazy with the pumpkin recipes lately, but I can’t help it!  I also had an opened can that I didn’t want to go bad, so pumpkin pie soft serve it was!

Pumpkin Pie Soft Serve

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

2 frozen bananas (chopped)
1/3 cup pumpkin purée
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg

Place all ingredients in food processor and process until you get a soft serve consistency, about 2 minutes.  Serve immediately.

We crushed up some graham crackers and used that as a topping- highly recommended!  This literally tasted like pumpkin pie in ice cream form.  So very yummy, and a healthy alternative to your average dessert 😉

Hope you all had a lovely Monday and enjoy the last week of September!  Happy Birthday Steve!! ❤

Healing Food

22 Sep

Yesterday I was forced to take a sick day.  I absolutely hate staying home sick, it is so boring and depressing.  Lay around, drink tea, blow nose, repeat.  All while daytime TV is playing in the background.  I actually feel like I’m in my own secluded universe when I stay home sick – and not in a good way!  I cannot wait to start feeling better and get back to work and working out.  Come on antibiotics, I have things to do!  The only thing I do have control over, is what I put into my body to help kick this illness to the curb.  However, I’m pretty dizzy so whatever I made would have to be quick and very easy.  Here’s the rundown of what I ate on my sick day and why.

Started off with a yogurt with a crumbled apple cider donut muffin in it and a glass of orange juice.  Vitamin C, protein, and whole grains.

I wasn’t very hungry around lunchtime, but I knew I had to eat something.  I decided on oatmeal because it’s hot, easy, fast, and I love that you can throw anything you fancy into oats and make it exactly what you want.  While my oatmeal was cooking, I made some very quick and easy apple cider syrup to go on top.

Apple Cider Syrup

 

Pumpkin Oatmeal

Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients for Oatmeal:

1/2 cup rolled oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill GF)

1 tbsp chia seeds

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup pumpkin puree

1 cup milk (I used vanilla almond milk)

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan.  On medium heat, cook oats for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Apple Cider Syrup

Yield: about 2 cups

Ingredients for Syrup:

1/2 cup turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)

2 tbsp arrowroot powder (can be substituted with 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

2 cups apple cider

Mix first four ingredients in a small saucepan.  Add the apple cider and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes. 

These were some of the best oats I’ve had in a while (at least I think they were, I can’t taste anything very well right now), and this syrup is killer.  I can’t wait to have it with pancakes this weekend.  This meal gave me more whole grains, potassium, antioxidants, vitamin A, omega-3’s, and fiber.

After this, I had some more tea and relaxed the rest of the day until Steve came home.  He brought me a big bowl of vegetable soup and a piece of whole wheat baguette for dipping.  He also made me a spinach smoothie for dessert/to sooth throat.  I don’t have any pictures, but it had fresh spinach, a banana, frozen blueberries/strawberries/blackberries, and almond milk.  It was a very good way to end a bad day 😉

What do you like to eat when you are sick?

Guest Post!

20 Sep

Hi everyone.  I’m taking the day off of blogging because I’m sick and bedridden.  😦

Luckily, Sarah over at Spinach and Spice must have sensed this because she posted the guest post I did for her today!  Thanks for that, Sarah!

Check it out HERE and check out the rest of her blog too – this girl can cook something fierce!

I’ll be back tomorrow at some point with a new recipe – sick food perhaps?

Apple Cider Donut Muffins

18 Sep

Hello friends 🙂  I hope you all had a lovely weekend and are ready for the new week.  I know I’ve been gone for a few days, this is because we were away this weekend for an engagement party.  It was a lovely party that really got us excited for the wedding in Aruba in April!  Getting back nice and early this morning gave us a chance to go food shopping, and run the usual weekly errands that needed to get done.  It was 65 and sunny here and I loved being able to enjoy it, even if it was just driving around with my windows open.  One of our stops was Williams Sonoma because I have been looking for a donut pan to no avail for a while now and I know I have seen it on their website.  Of course they didn’t have it (I’m beginning to think I should take this as a sign), but they did have a donut cutter, so I bought that.  I knew all week that I wanted to make apple cider donuts this weekend, and I spent the week researching recipes and health-ifying them.  I knew it would be more of a batter than a dough, because I wasn’t using any yeast in my recipe, but I figured I would try to scoop the batter into the donut cutter and get it onto my baking sheet.  After all, they didn’t need to be perfect, just have a somewhat donut shape.  Then this happened:

DONUT FAIL

Ok, so this obviously wasn’t going to do – I have my pride!  So, I grabbed my muffin pan and made donut muffins. 

Apple Cider Donut Muffins with Pumpkin-Cider Glaze

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

2 tsp cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

1 egg (I used regular but a flax egg would work too)

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup apple sauce

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup apple cider

1/3 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt (I use chobani)

3 tbsp canola oil

Muffins:

Preheat oven to 325F.  In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients and set aside.  In a different bowl, mix together remaining ingredients until well incorporated.  Slowly add dry mixture to wet until blended.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tbsp apple cider

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

pinch of cinnamon/nutmeg

Whisk all ingredients until you get a glaze-like consistency.  Dip cooled muffins in the glaze, one at a time and set on a cooling rack.

*Note – If glaze isn’t your thing, you can sprinkle them lightly with cinnamon/sugar mixture, or you can just leave them plain. 

These came out perfect!  They brought my right back to the farms we go to for apple/pumpkin picking without leaving my house.  And the best part is that they are so easy and take no time at all to make! 

I just want to note that using whole wheat pastry flour instead of regular whole wheat flour will make a huge difference in your baking.  Regular whole wheat flour is very coarse, and therefore causes baked goods to become heavier and more dense.  Whole wheat pastry flour gives you all of the nutritional benefits of regular whole wheat flour, but it is ground so fine that it has the same light, powerdery consistency as all purpose flour.  This will result in a much lighter, fluffier outcome.  I use Bob’s Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat Pastry Flour:

I would like to meet Bob and shake his hand.  This product will change your baking in a serious way.  Anyway, hope you all have a good Sunday evening and Monday!

Anti-Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

14 Sep

Good (late) evening! I’m going to keep tonight short and sweet because I’m exhausted. The past two nights of classes after working a full day has left me drained. I guess I just need to get back into the swing of things- although I don’t know if one can ever really get used to classes that end at 10:45! Anyway, I have a confession. I love Panera. Their broccoli cheddar soup to be specific. With a side of bread for dipping. Very healthy! I leave with my stomach bloated and my heart beating a little slower, yet I always return because it’s so good! Until I went the other day by myself and ordered a soup to-go. $5.50. For a bowl of soup! Ouch. I felt ashamed to be taken for a fool by my beloved for so long. Never again! You hear that Panera? We’re through!

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup (lightly adapted from food.com)
Yield: about 4-5 servings

Ingredients:

1 bag frozen broccoli (steam-in-the-bag variety is nice and easy)
1 cup carrots, finely grated
1 14oz container vegetable broth
2 tbsp flour
4 chopped shallots (onion would work too)
1 tbsp earth balance
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (not low-fat)
1 cup at free half and half

Prepare broccoli in microwave according to directions on packaging. Chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside. In a large saucepan, cook shallots in earth balance until translucent. Add flour to pan and whisk. Add broth, carrots, and broccoli and bring to a boil. Add cheese and half and half and stir constantly until cheese is melted and incorporated.

*Do not use low-fat cheese in this soup because it doesn’t melt good. You will end up with a plastic-y, cheese like blob in your saucepan.

Needless to say, my embarrassment increased when I realized how easy this was to make. I would typically use low-fat cheese in a recipe, but I’m not going to stress about it because this is certainly not an everyday kind of soup. But, whenever I get a craving for the “P” word, I now have a go-to recipe that will do the trick and save me money.

Do you like Panera? What is your guilty food pleasure?